A Career Changer on His Way to Opening an Inn
George Tsaoussis Carter spent 15 years in the art industry before pursuing a hospitality career.
After climbing the ladder from intern to director of operations at an art fair production company, George Tsaoussis Carter (Hospitality, ’19) was ready to pursue his dream of opening an inn one day. He earned a diploma from ICE’s Hospitality & Hotel Management program in 2019, and now he’s learning the ropes as a front desk agent at a luxury hotel in New York City.
"When my husband and I got engaged, we were talking about the things we wanted to do in our lives. We both had the idea of opening an inn or bed and breakfast as a retirement option,” George says. At age 36, he already had a successful career under his belt and felt stagnant, unable to grow in his position. So when his mother passed away, he was compelled to push himself out of his comfort zone.
George researched a couple of hospitality programs and was drawn to ICE’s management course. After attending an open house, he signed up immediately and attended classes at night as he continued working at his art job full time. “Once the program was ending, I decided I was going to resign from my position after 15 years because I now had the education that would launch me into a new career,” he explains.
With the support of his husband and his savings, George accepted an externship at the Dylan Hotel, which turned into a full-time role as a night auditor and front desk agent. From there, he explored other opportunities.
“I had been a client of the Denihan Hospitality Group for many years through my old company and I had fostered a relationship with the sales department there,” George says. “I knew that they treated their employees really well and that they were a good company to work for. Also being family-owned, it was more hands-on than the bigger hospitality companies.” When he saw a posting for an open position at The Benjamin, he applied immediately.
The day George interviewed for the role just happened to be the anniversary of his mother’s passing. While he was at lunch with his sister afterwards, he got the offer. “For me, it was a perfect culmination of a sign that they offered me the job,” he says. The Benjamin offered him entrance to a company that would allow him to grow.
George has been a front desk agent for about four months. “I enjoy it,” he says. “It’s a great team to work with and I’m learning a lot. Having taken the courses at ICE made it so much easier to be a front desk agent.” He’s already racked up a handful of five-star reviews on TripAdvisor, as well as good feedback on the company’s in-house survey system.
“I’m noticed for being so positive and upbeat with the guests, so I know that I’m going to grow rather quickly if I continue being the person that I always have been,” George says. “Kindness and happiness are values my mom really drove into me.”
George uses strategies he learned at ICE on a daily basis. During school, he completed a project on how to improve a hotel based on TripAdvisor reviews. He learned to thoroughly research a property in order to make it better. “Now, when I have to upsell or answer questions, I’ve done my research about the hotel, I know its landmark status and about the architect,” he says. “Having done that research in school made me realize that’s exactly what I should do for any property I work at. It prepares me to sell the property at any given time to a potential guest. Having that education from ICE and having had teachers who were very invested in how we were doing, I really benefit from having that experience.”
As for short-term goals, George would like to build upon his front desk role and expand into concierge services or sales in the next couple of years. “The joy of being at Denihan is they list all the open positions and you can apply for a transfer with the approval of your manager. They encourage people within the company to explore different departments and learn new things,” he explains. Opening an inn or bed and breakfast in the Hudson Valley is the end game. Right now, George and his husband keep a vision board of inspiration on the side of their refrigerator.
For current and prospective students, George suggests focusing on the discovery and staying open-minded. “I went into the program thinking that I knew exactly what I wanted and halfway through it started to morph a little. Don’t let your preconceived notions about what you think you want blind you from learning something new.”
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