By: Hannah Ketelhut (@hannahketelhut)
For seniors, graduation is coming soon (seven weeks to be exact!) and the excitement – and intimidation – of finding a job is all too real. Public relations is a field that stretches across industries, giving us endless options to start our careers. We’ve heard PRSSA speakers from a variety of industries: automotive, medical, events, and entertainment to name a few. An industry that often gets overlooked is hospitality and tourism.
My first experience with PR in hospitality and tourism was with my internship at Experience Grand Rapids. I currently am the social media intern and work directly with the marketing team. The goal of Experience Grand Rapids is to market Grand Rapids as a desirable location for leisure travelers and conventions. To accomplish this goal, the sales and marketing teams work together to bring people to Grand Rapids, increase hotel occupancy, and make a positive impact in the economy of Kent County through tourism.
Before my internship, I had never considered working in hospitality and tourism, and I hardly ever associated PR with the industry. When I thought of hospitality and tourism careers, I often thought of tour guides, hotel staff, and travel agents. While these jobs do fall under the hospitality and tourism umbrella, PR also plays a crucial role in the industry.
So what does PR in hospitality and tourism look like? I interviewed Experience Grand Rapids’ very own Public Relations Manager Stephanie Kotschevar to find out.
A Day in the Life
As students, we’re always wondering what is their day-to-day job actually like? For Stephanie, her days are spent writing press releases, media monitoring, and assisting with PR inquiries. She also manages the two PR firms that Experience Grand Rapids has contracts with, and she organizes press trips. She is a conversation-starter for the city. “My job is constantly changing and evolving which is exciting,” she said.
Why Hospitality and Tourism?
PR is necessary for every industry, and hospitality and tourism is no exception. While the industry can often be light-hearted and fun, there’s always the risk of crisis. A part of Stephanie’s job is to think about what could go wrong to avoid possible crises. “I think a voice like that is necessary for all fields,” she said, “but in hospitality especially because it can sometimes be forgotten.”
It’s All About Relationships
We’ve heard it from mentors, professors, speakers, and PR pros – relationships are a crucial part of our industry. Whether it’s with the media, organizational partners, or coworkers, good relationships make a difference. “Maintaining those relationships and nurturing them is a big part of PR,” Stephanie said.
Let’s Get Started
Whether you’re an underclassman just getting started or a senior ready to get out into the real world, internships are a key way to gain experience and grow as a young professional. “Internships provide real work experience that you don’t get in the classroom,” Stephanie said, “Not just if you are interested in doing PR in the hospitality and tourism industry but in general.” Seek out opportunities, immerse yourself in the world of PR, and stretch your learning beyond campus.
If a job or internship opportunity comes your way in the hospitality and tourism industry, take a chance! You might just find a career that is fun, exciting, and meaningful in ways you didn’t expect – just like I did at Experience Grand Rapids.
Hannah Ketelhut is a senior majoring in Advertising & Public Relations, with a minor in Business. She is a member of GV PRSSA, GVSU Advertising Club, Eastern Ottawa Young Life, and the National Student Advertising Competition team. When she’s not busy with school or work, you can find her spending time with family and friends adventuring through the Upper Peninsula.