Project SWAGS

Although I do spend quite some time out of the office doing Marriott related things, I spend a majority of time working in the office on my intern project-SWAGS.

On my first day, it was my mission to leave my impact on the office by improving it. I did not know what exactly that would entail from the get-go, so to gauge areas of improvement, I talked with each director and asked what the office needed the most help with right now. It was when I conversed with my supervisor and the GM that we determined the selling process was not as efficient as it could be.

Right now, the sales managers use “M-Drive,” which is a database containing folders for each region and property, with even more folders within that. The problem with M-Drive, however, is that there is so much information for each property, it can be difficult and time-consuming to navigate to the document you are trying to find. Due to the current drive not being the most organized, it can be hard for sales managers to locate the information the customer wants at the moment, over the phone. A lot of the files also contain a ton of information that is out of date. Ultimately, the group this effects the most are those sales managers working after hours or cross-selling properties that another person usually represents. It is difficult for them to find the information because each region also has its own section set up completely different than the rest.

In an effort to improve this, the intern team and upper management decided the best idea was to create a SharePoint in order to make each region’s properties a standardized “wiki page.” We also wanted it to have a fun acronym so we called it SWAGS which stands for Southwest Area/Group Sales. After much collaboration with my team and sales managers, we were able to narrow down the elements that were the most important for the selling process. From there, we made a template to use for each property that contained these elements and a quick glimpse of the hotel. This includes selling strategies specific to that hotel, meeting space dimensions/floor plans, catering and local restaurant menus, property photos, amenities, ownership information, etc. Making the template was a major feat since each hotel offers different things and is a different size and brand. To combat this, we decided to make a modified template for each type of property based on if it was a resort, full service, or select brand hotel.

From there, we had to scour the M-Drive to find the existing applicable information and manually input it for each page. We also had to comb through all the inaccurate and out of date information. Even after doing that we were still missing a lot of information for each property so we compiled a list of all the missing information we needed to complete the template for that hotel and then sent it to the leader of that region. After that, the leader would contact that hotel and have the property send us the missing information that we would input on the second time around.

Some properties, like resorts, are still gathering the information and will not be able to get back to us before our internship is over. To overcome this, we worked with the GM to select a cadre to carry on the project so that it can stay on track and officially launch for the entire office to use by the start of Q4. We will train the cadre on how to input the supplemental information, create pages, the process of collecting new information going forward, and how to edit the homepage. Prior to training the cadre, in order to collect the new information, we created a cadre email so properties can directly send the cadre information in the future. This will help the SharePoint remain up to date. The homepage contains resources other than property information that are useful to employees such as access to punching in/out, metric measuring tools, HR, and work-a-versaries, just to name a few. To prevent inconsistencies, only the 5 people on the cadre have access to editing it.

Since there were 3 interns and over 100 properties, this has taken a considerable amount of time thus far and is our main project. We also started with the more intensive properties to get the hard ones out of the way. This will let us end on select brand properties which share many similarities.

To break up this giant task, we also took on a philanthropy project as well. Since Marriott has a close partnership with Children’s Miracle Network, we conducted fundraisers for the annual Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) Walk. With the money that we fundraised, we sponsored volunteers from Marriott to walk in honor of the kids. Participants in this event get to walk around and have early/discounted access to Disneyland. All proceeds benefit this hospital and its good works.  To raise money at our office we held several fundraisers including a 50/50 drawing, a trip to a Marriott in Hawaii raffle, BINGO for cool prizes, and my favorite: a penny war to pie the leader with the most money in the face (which ended up being my boss!). We also coordinated cool prizes such as free Marriott stays in San Diego, LA, and Arizona, movie tickets with candy, and even our GM’s VIP parking spot. In two weeks, we raised over $2000 to benefit this wonderful cause!

My Final Week at Chick-fil-A

Hi Buckeyes!

I am sad to say my summer with Chick-fil-A has come to a close. But, of course, if you know me, you know that I didn’t leave Chick-fil-A or the Atlanta area without a bang.

During my last week at Chick-fil-A, I implemented the processes and KPI tracking system I created, presented my final project to the entire Brand Strategy, Advertising, and Media team, and had as much fun as possible!

Here are the highlights of my last week in Atlanta:


On Monday, I presented to the Brand Strategy, Advertising and Media team. I shared about myself, my key learnings, summer fun,  and the two big projects that I worked on, Cow Appreciation Day and the In-House Creative Agency KPI tracking system.

Final Presentation in The Pulse Room

Later that day, the interns drove south of Atlanta to Dan Cathy’s (the Chairman & CEO of Chick-fil-A) house for food and fun. Upon arrival, Dan gave us a tour of the property. The home featured a variety of vegetation, a garden, running trails, bee houses (a personal favorite of mine), and ample space just for hosting guests. After our brief tour, we made our way toward the garage. We all gathered around tables, shared, in conversation, and enjoyed Fox Brothers barbecue for dinner.

Of course, if you’ve ever met Dan Cathy, you know that it wouldn’t be a proper hang out if fun wasn’t involved. After dinner, Dan invited us to explore his home more. This included ATV riding through the mud trails behind his house!

Here is a group of us interns and Dan Cathy (in the driver’s seat) after riding the ATV’s around his property

Dinner at Dan’s was easily one of the most fun opportunities that I had through this internship.


Tuesday morning I hopped on a plane with Khalilah Cooper, the Director of Service & Hospitality, to Houston, Texas for the day.

One of the great things about Chick-fil-A is that they give you the ability to use your talents and passions in multiple areas within the company. Outside of my projects, I was given the opportunity to voice my experiences in the cultural intelligence space. As Chick-fil-A is growing internationally and into diverse markets, Chick-fil-A operators have seen a need for cultural intelligence training. So, with the help of the International, Service & Hospitality, and Talent Acquisition teams, a cross-functional team was formed to create the capability of cultural intelligence.

In Houston, Chick-fil-A was conducting an operator panel to showcase some of the cultural intelligence training and gain feedback from the operators. It was very interesting listening to the things that operators were dealing with within the restaurant and the growth opportunities for Chick-fil-A.

This was a quick trip and we flew back to Atlanta that afternoon, but it was awesome to be a part of a project that will later effect all of the restaurants and the Support Center.

I couldn’t have been more thankful for people like Khalilah Cooper who saw my passion and found a way for me to use it this summer.


Wednesday afternoon the interns had a celebration on the rooftop of Ponce City Market. (If any of you have been to North Market, I would describe Ponce City Market to be like North Market but on steroids.)

Ponce City Market

OKAY SO,  HERE COMES THE FUN PART OF WEDNESDAY! That night, I bought VIP tickets for a group of us to see WHATUPRG. This show was his first headliner show and what better way to do so than to have it in his hometown. WHATUPRG (Raul Garcia) is a hip-hop artist from the Northwest side of Atlanta. His story is particularly unique to the music industry because he is a Mexican-American artist who has felt the traumatic effects of deportation in his family. When he was younger, his dad got deported to Mexico. RG is rather vocal about this immigration issue and tells the story of hope through his music.

The VIP experience was amazing. Not only were we able to meet RG, but, his family served us tacos, his mother was passing out t-shirts, and we were able to mingle with some of the other opening artists in the room. What a great way to experience the hip-hop scene in Atlanta!

For those looking to read more about WHATUPRG, here is a link to an interview in Culdasac magazine.

WHATUPRG posing in the middle. I’m on the far right. (The rest of the group may not have known his music that well but they had a ton of fun and left the concert in awe.)
RG performing “4 AM” from his album RAUL


Aklesso (one of the openers) and I


Packing day. Bleh.



Our last day 🙁

The interns had a final celebration where we reflected on our internship experiences, took our final group photos, and enjoyed each other’s company before we left to go back home.

One sweet moment at the final celebration was being voted by the intern class to be “The Mostly Likely to Save the Day.” Thanks to the 2019 Chick-fil-A Intern Class for that one, you guys are too sweet.

The White Knight Award.

Picture above: April Lemons, Diversity Recruiter at Chick-fil-A. She recruited both Kiana (pictured on right) and I from Management Leadership for Tomorrow’s Career Prep Program. Can’t thank her enough for her guidance through this summer.

2019 Intern Family (minus a few)

Well, that’s a wrap on the summer. Stay tuned for more information regarding next summer’s internship opportunities. (Some of the positions are already posted on Handshake, go check them out!)

All the best,


Wrap Up

And that’s a wrap!  Just like that, my internship is over and it’s hard to believe school is starting in just a week.  Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Grand Rapids to present my project to some of the senior leadership team at Meijer!  I spent the past 12 weeks working on improving in stock conditions, and also learning about every aspect of retail.  It was truly rewarding working for a company that is so committed to their team members and communities.  I will never forget this invaluable experience!  I also attended an intern farewell event last Friday, where we had cake and tacos and got to say our goodbyes.  I am sad to be ending my internship at Meijer, but excited for the upcoming school year!  I will be moving into my house on Saturday, so I am starting to get everything ready to go.

Since it’s already August, I wanted to share some tips on finding an internship for the upcoming summer.  I think what’s most important is to start early.  Make a list of companies that you are interested in working for, making sure to note when your application is due or when on campus interviews are.  It can be hard to balance schoolwork with job hunting, but if you stay organized and keep track of application due dates and everything, you won’t feel as overwhelmed.  A great on-campus resource to help with interview skills is becoming QUIC certified.  I recently completed this process and found the mock interview to be incredibly useful.  I was provided much feedback at the end for areas to improve upon and felt more confident having another interview successfully completed.  Wherever your journey takes you, I hope that you find a job you are passionate about at a company you love working for.  I am so thankful for everyone I’ve met this summer and look forward to applying what I’ve learned in my third year at Ohio State.  Thank you for following along on my journey this summer—make it a great school year and GO BUCKS!

Behind the Scenes of Your Favorite Hotels

Thanks for returning to my blog! Over the course of my internship, I have not only redeveloped the resources that our sales managers use to represent our properties but also had the chance to visit some of these beautiful and unique hotels. These hotels varied from luxury brands to full-service resorts.

The W Hotel-Hollywood

Many shows have been filmed at this hotel. This Is Us filmed in this very room.

I made the trek from Orange County to Los Angeles to visit the W located in Hollywood. Before getting into details of the visit, it is good to have a basic understanding of this brand. When W first started in NYC, there was no intention of it expanding the way it did but after wild, unexpected success, the brand now has hotels all over the world. The W brand is considered one of Marriott’s luxury brands, however, it is a different luxury than you would expect from the Ritz or St. Regis. Unlike the Ritz’s “ladies and gentlemen” suit and tie luxury, the W is more of an edgy luxury. To paint a picture, think of a young, executive, businessman who is business by day but after a long day of work, rolls up his sleeves revealing a sleeve of tattoos, orders a drink, is out the rest of the night, then gets up at 8 the next morning ready for work. To cater to this profile, W seeks to make its hotel modern with a good night-life scene. Another central element to the W is attention to detail, especially being local to the area in terms of décor and things to do. This makes each W one-of-a-kind from each other.

The chandelier in the lobby evokes an Oscar dress and the couch under it turns into a DJ booth at night where local DJs come to perform. Prince performed here, as did Justin Bieber and many other celebrities.

Since we visited the Hollywood location, this W was very glam. Red carpets, diamond-studded everything (even the room peepholes had diamonds around them), pictures of celebrities, and many chandeliers. The Destination Sales Executive giving the tour even mentioned that this was one of the few W’s that had a recording studio in it-truly a great fit for the VIP profile of most guests here. On the flip side, the biggest challenge for the Hollywood location is the VIP guests that have high demands and often come in on very short notice. To cater to these needs,

Recording studio in the hotel where artists such as Migos have recorded!

the hotel has an entire team dedicated to these “pop-up” guests and executing events on short notice. She also mentioned when your favorite celebrities come to visit, you have to remain professional at all times. Another thing unique to W are the terms used for the different departments. This is to keep up with the fun atmosphere, veering away from a traditional

Prior to being a meeting room, this area used to be a night club. This is very on-brand with the W nightlife culture.
To the left is a record case which serves as the room service menu to go with the music/Hollywood theme of this W. Above is the rug in the elevator that gets changed out every few hours. The W places a high emphasis on attention to detail

“boring” hotel. These terms include Beverage and Food (instead of food and beverage in order to emphasize the hotel’s cocktail culture), “Style” refers to housekeeping, wet deck refers to the pool, and W insider refers to the concierge. Just these little tweaks really add to W’s fun and vibrant environment. Overall, it was really neat getting to experience the place where celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Prince, Mary J Blige, and CeeLo Green have stayed. 



Fairfield Anaheim Resort- Disneyland

Us three interns at the Disneyland Fairfield Inn. We were even able to visit the park after our site visit!

On the flip side of the W, we were able to visit the Fairfield across the street from Disneyland. The Fairfield is considered a select brand, meaning it has just what a guest needs with no extra frills, since these hotels are usually allocated for a shorter stay. However, this Fairfield is unique from the rest due to its structure and capacity. Of the 1,000 Fairfields, this is the largest one with a 500-room capacity. It is also the only one to have a restaurant on site due to the fact that it is the only Fairfield that does not offer complimentary breakfast and parking. This poses a challenge for the hotel since many people expect these amenities. Since the hotel is located across from Disney, it has to compete with dozens of similar hotels nearby, so it just would not be profitable for the property to provide these complimentary aspects.
Another thing that makes this hotel unique is that it is one of the few hotels owned by the Marriott family and is part of their trust, thus there is a lot of pressure for this property to perform well.

On this site visit, we are able to get a taste of the different departments that help the hotel to run smoothly each day: housekeeping, loss prevention, and front desk. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes before your hotel room is ready to go, with a TON of attention to detail. A housekeeper will first clean the room (which typically takes 30 minutes per room and housekeepers usually clean 15 rooms a day!).

As much as guests value good service, housekeepers value appreciation. Even a kind note from a guest holds a special place to the housekeepers.
One of HR’s proudest accomplishments is the wellness room designated to help employees relax during a hectic day (there’s even a hammock!).

If it is a room for a new guest, after it is cleaned a housekeeping inspector will come to double-check that there are no stray hairs, things left behind, etc. that the housekeeper might have missed. Once the room passes the inspection, the status of vacant ready is assigned to the room by the Rooms Controller who will keep an inventory of the all the room statuses for the entire property. This information is relayed to the front desk rooms controller who will actually assign the room to the guest according to the guest’s requests. The front desk agent is the one in charge of actually checking guests in and making this experience personalized. Lastly, loss prevention aka security serves to keep the property safe.  They will patrol the property and make sure there is no suspicious activity such as drug use or human trafficking. This is especially crucial at this location since Disneyland is the 5th highest terrorist destination in the world. They are also in charge of the lost and found and filing reports for these items. Overall the importance of their job cannot be overstated, however, it is challenging since they often have to deliver bad news but strive to be hospitable about it.

Marriott Newport Beach Resort and Spa

Tunnels like this connect different areas of the hotels. This is very similar to the tunnels under Fisher.

At this property, we were able to get more of a look at the business operations side of the hotel. We got to spend a lot of time with event planners and the Destination Sales Executive. These two departments function hand in hand because “sales makes the dreams while events create the nightmare.” Specifically, the position of DSE is in charge of selling their property by giving site tours and building that relationship face to face (versus the sales office that is more over the phone and for a wider area). The DSE also emphasized how important it is to have passion for what you are selling (in her case the beautiful resort) otherwise it’s just another person trying to sell you something.

This is the best room in hotel and is for the Marriott family when they stay here.

Another interesting point about this property is that it was actually the first property built AND owned by the Marriott family. The Marriotts also visit here often since they enjoy collecting cars and there are many luxury car dealerships nearby. Due to this, the hotel has designated the “Marriott Suite” for the family to stay in when they visit.

In short, everyone down to housekeeping loves and is very passionate about their job. This is on-brand with the Marriott culture. I hope you have enjoyed learning about everything behind the scenes that goes into making your hotel stay a good experience.

-Diana G.

The area where cleaning carts are kept when not in use. Storage like this is located on every floor.
Here is the “Housekeeping Headquarters” for the Newport Beach property. Each morning the housekeeping team will have a dance party to pump up for the day. This is led by the Director of Housekeeping who was 1 of 10 recipients in the entire company worldwide to win the Marriott Spirit award.
Storage for large kitchen items used for catering at banquets.

Intern Events

This summer, Highlights had a total of seven interns in our Columbus offices and our intern program leader (also my boss) organized a ton of events for us! All of these events gave us an opportunity to understand our company and our co-workers better, with many that were focused on networking and the job search after our internship. Between the seven of us, we are a mix of school years with graduation dates ranging from this past May to May of 2021, so we will all be job or internship hunting again soon.

One of our first events was a series of tours for each of our business locations in Columbus. Highlights has their headquarters in Grandview in addition to a second office for one of our associated companies, Zaner-Bloser, down the street. We also have a distribution center for Zaner-Bloser’s products in Hilliard. We were given tours of each of these locations and were able to learn a lot more about the history of our companies.

Other events that we all participated in included mock interviews, resume reviews, and networking sessions with some of our directors and VPs. This not only allowed us to practice our skills for the job search but also simply gave us face time with company leaders, especially ones that were in different job functions than where we currently sit. Having so many events also gave us the chance to meet these people more than once and develop a better connection with them. One person who was particularly involved in many of the intern events was our VP of Operations, Richard, who helped out despite not having an intern in his department.

We have also gotten to meet with our CEO, Kent Johnson, formally and informally a couple of times. Yesterday we had time to sit down with him and hear about how he got where he is today (he became our CEO at age 36!) and his advice for us in our careers. When asked what types of things he works on most in his job, he said that although he does spend a good amount of time looking at finances, what keeps him up at night is managing his people. This was really notable to me in HR, since I assumed his answer would be something in line with finances or strategic planning.

Finally, our biggest event of the summer was undoubtedly our presentations that we gave last Friday. All seven of us presented in the same two-hour time span to our managers, department VPs, and our CEO. Since none of us sit with each other, I think it was definitely a great opportunity to just hear about what we have each been working on in so much detail. The large group that we presented to was a little nerve-wracking but the more times you do it, the easier it gets! Since this was my second internship and therefore my second final presentation, I definitely felt like I didn’t have as much trouble with it as last year.

If you have an internship in the future where they don’t have some of these events, make sure to ask! Most internship programs are always looking for ways to improve the experience for their students and I’ve found that if you ask, they will make it happen if it is possible. Take some of these ideas and look for other events that fit your personal goals for the summer.