Vice President, HVS Executive Search
Lacey Hagen, Vice President, HVS Executive Search, will provide insight into her experiences as ...
Young Professional Profile: Josh Kudisch, Account Director, Quality Assurance, LRA Worldwide
The popularity of user review sites and social media has created a new, more public arena for guests to share feedback about the quality of their stays, bringing quality assurance efforts to the forefront of branding strategies for many hotel companies. Josh Kudisch, the young professional profiled, is the person responsible for working with top hospitality companies to maximize the quality of their products and increase brand loyalty. Quality Assurance consulting could be a great career for young professionals that are willing to travel frequently and are looking for an opportunity to work with multiple properties, brands, and market segments. Although there may be a steep learning curve, young professionals like Josh have been able to capitalize on the opportunity and contribute to the changing dynamic of branding and quality of the hospitality industry before the age of 30.
Education: Cornell University, School of Hotel Administration
Degree: B.S. Hospitality Administration, Hospitality Law Concentration
Career Progression: Food & Beverage Service Director, ClubCorp; Director of Hospitality, One Key; Consultant, Client Experience Manager, Account Director, LRA Worldwide.
Lacey Hagen: Your first career post-grad was with ClubCorp and then you took a foundational role with a start-up company, One Key. Were you nervous to make that transition?
Josh Kudisch: I think at that point in my career, I was more excited about the challenge of building something from the ground up, more so than I was nervous. ClubCorp had a very established training and development program which gave me a strong foundation for providing quality customer service and understanding guest expectations. Additionally, I spent a summer interning with Ritz Carlton Hotels, so I had experience with luxury guests. The start-up environment at One Key was certainly different, but I thrived on the energy and opportunity to really have a large impact on establishing a new brand and service concept. I was the fifth employee to join One Key and every decision stemmed from a creative process that involved brainstorming and building a process from scratch. LRA Worldwide is a happy medium because it has an established reputation in the industry; but has also experienced steady growth year over year, with opportunity to learn and grow. I have been able to use everything I have learned from both types of work environments in order to better understand and consult our varied clients.
LH: LRA Worldwide is such a dynamic company with a wide array of services, what exactly are you involved with in your role?
JK: LRA Worldwide provides a range of Customer Experience Management services to various segments of the hospitality industry. I am responsible for overall account strategy and client satisfaction for my clients. I work primarily with corporate level client contacts as well as LRA's internal operations teams, including Consulting, Logistics and IT. More specifically, I am responsible for new client launches, program re-designs, technology build-out, program analysis and specialty consulting projects. Some of our clients include: Marriott Hotels International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Preferred Hotel Group, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, and Jumeirah Luxury Hotels Resorts & Residences. I also work with many of our food & beverage and resort based accounts such as FLIK International and Eurest Dining Services from the Compass Group, the Cosmopolitan Hotel of Las Vegas, and Hyatt Golf Resorts.
One of the things I like most about my job is that every day is different. One morning I could be on a conference call with a select service hotel brand discussing housekeeping trends, and that same afternoon, provide recommendations to a new four star luxury brand client regarding the emotional connection their associates are making with guests.
LH: That’s a lot of responsibility for someone still fresh from college, have you experienced any challenges about being a young professional in this role?
JK: Any time you do something for the first time, it is a challenge. I am still at a point in my career where I am learning every day, and you have to approach new experiences with a learning mentality. There have been times where hotel owners or executives may have questioned my experience or my age, but in the end, LRA's methodologies and programs speak for themselves.
LH: Any advice for young professionals that are considering hospitality consulting as a potential career?
JK: Don’t be afraid to try new things. I was positive I was going to follow a career path in food & beverage management, and somehow my career shifted to building a luxury vacation club, and then to hospitality consulting.
With regard to a career in consulting, operations experience is important. Learning the basics of the hospitality industry from the ground up will make a transition into the corporate office or consulting much more achievable. If you are creative and often find ways to improve existing programs and processes, consulting may be a good career path. When I started with LRA, I spent the first 12 months on the road, traveling the country on various accounts gaining a strong understanding of our core programs.
Also, ask for help when you need it – make sure you have a network of colleagues and friends who you are able to bounce ideas off of. The brainstorming and creative process here at LRA is what keeps us ahead of the game.
LH: Finally, how have you seen the role of Quality Assurance in the hospitality industry change over the past few years and how do you see it developing in the future?
JK: Quality Assurance has generally been a big checklist of simple things that are “black and white”, such as number of minutes for a check-in or the required brand of bath towels. Recently, we have seen strong interest from our clients in the emotional connection and qualitative elements of a guest's experience. Tapping into the emotional connection and how certain brands are cementing themselves to the guest is a more sophisticated approach to Quality Assurance that provides a more useful assessment of brand quality and the guests' likelihood to recommend and return. In addition to Quality Assurance, LRA's newly developed Competitive Competencies program provides segment and brand benchmarking at the corporate level to more than 100 brands in 120 countries. I think you will see continued increases in attention paid to emotional and sensorial elements, and how they drive customer satisfaction and loyalty, particularly in the full service, luxury and lifestyle segments.
Another trend that we've seen is companies outside of the traditional "hospitality" sphere adopting a hospitality industry approach to quality and guest experience. We've expanded our notion of our core industry verticals to include sports, entertainment, senior living, timeshare, airports, etc. as a result.
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Monday, November 05, 2012 by Cheryl
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