Jane Patel, NN, Inc., AAHOA North Central Ambassador

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Tell us about how you got started in the hospitality industry.
I started in the industry with my grandfather and my father at a young age. My grandfather had a full-service hotel in Hawkesbury, Ontario, and formerly owned some motels in Georgia as well. I would always be with him in his office or helping him do something in the hotel.

Then I moved to Ohio, and being third generation, my father never went easy on me. He always had me work and also focus on school. At one point, my exact words to him were, “I will never join the hotel industry.”

While I was in college studying in the science field, I was working for Hilton. I never imagined in a million years that I would end up in the hotel industry. I moved back home after college, and my father gave me the opportunity to completely take over a hotel. I learned a lot in this process – such as how to budget and do renovations – and applied my customer service and organization skills that I learned while working for Hilton. I converted our brand to Red Roof Inn and Suites.

Now I have a passion for the hospitality industry and to help anyone who is taking their steps into the industry.

What makes a great leader?
A great leader is someone who walks with the people they are trying to lead, not in front of them. I feel it is really important for leaders to understand and educate people in the way they can relate to and lead them to their destination.

What book has influenced you most?
The book that influences me the most is “13 things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” by Amy Morin. This book gave me the mental strength to keep me on the right path and taught me how to face challenges one day at a time.

What do you think is most important for the next generation of hoteliers to learn?
The next generation needs to get well-connected with people and find ways to take the industry to the next level.

Who is your role model and why?
My role model was my grandfather. He came to Canada and later to America with little to nothing. With the help of his wife and sons, he worked really hard for all that he had. He was a very giving man, always helped others and gave 100 percent to everything he did. I wish I was able to receive all the knowledge he had before he passed.

Tell me about an accomplishment you consider to be the most significant in your career.
I turned around my hotel, which was at its low point, renovated and operated it, eventually doubling my numbers within a year and a half.

How to you give back to the industry and/or your community?
I have given back to my industry by dedicating my time and effort to host local town halls and regional meetings. I am an ambassador for our region, so I’ve since attended every advocacy conference in D.C. to fight for our industry’s laws. I also volunteer my time at our local hospital and donate my time and money to organizations that support the unfortunate.

What’s the number-one asset a skilled hotelier should possess?
In the hotel industry, it is very important for you to be a “people person” and willing to engage. Our industry is based on how we can make our guests happy, and if you have that skill, I don’t know what can get in your way!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Your mental strength will give you the path to success.”

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you want to meet?
My grandfather, to soak up all the knowledge he had about the industry.

Where do you see AAHOA as an organization in 10 years?
I see AAHOA creating a brand as an organization that will expand into different countries, so hoteliers can have an opportunity to branch outside of the United States as well.

How has AAHOA affected your career, business?
The AAHOA conferences and involvement has helped me understand the laws and industry a lot better than I did when I began. I feel AAHOA has given me the opportunity to make many connections, which has helped me become a better businesswoman.     ■

 

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