Alex Kadota '11 Would Be Happy to Assist You
***This article originally published in 2012. Alex is now Director of Revenue Management at Downtown Grand Las Vegas.***
A typical day for Alex Kadota MBA ’11 involves sun, sand and the sound of waves hitting the beach. Though it may sound like he’s on vacation, Kadota is doing a lot more than working on his tan. In July, he relocated from Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to serve as director of guest services at Hacienda Beach Club & Residences. In his new position, he’s responsible for overseeing the resort’s operations, including front desk, concierge, valet, spa, beach activities, social media and marketing.
Kadota, born and raised in Orange County, attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and graduated with a B.S. in hotel administration in 2007. During and after his undergraduate studies, he spent five years gaining hotel management experience at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas, starting as a rooms division intern and ending as hotel assistant manager.
While working toward his MBA at LMU, he interned at a small mobile hospitality startup called Runtriz; it was there where his passion for technology and mobile-based solutions for hotels grew. As Kadota continues to climb the corporate ladder in the hotel industry, he is realizing the many benefits of having an MBA and that sometimes it takes sacrifices early in your career to get your dream job later.
When did you first become interested in the hotel management/hospitality industry?
I must’ve been about 16 years old when I got my first job at a 50’s diner called Ruby’s. I realized then that I liked working with people but would rather be eating food than serving it! I was set on studying business in college and someone popped the idea of hotel management in my head. I decided to attend UNLV and worked at the Four Seasons throughout college. I dealt with a lot of systems and technology at the Four Seasons – not only did I find it interesting, but it came naturally to me as well.
Why did you decide to get your MBA?
My dad always pushed for me to get my MBA. At the time in Las Vegas, when the economy went south, there weren’t many opportunities for growth within Four Seasons or other hospitality companies. I had already been in the same position for two years so I thought it was the perfect time to go back to school. I wanted to continue moving forward in my career and thought an MBA could get me there.
Why did you choose LMU?
I knew I wanted to move back to LA because my family was in the area. I applied to various grad schools and chose LMU because the location was perfect and the school could help develop the knowledge and skills in the area I was interested in – information technology in the hotel industry. I started with an emphasis in information and decision sciences and halfway through the program decided to double my emphasis to include finance. I also found it very easy to get along with people at LMU. I was a full-time student and got the opportunity to focus on school and become more active in student organizations, such as the MBASA.
How did the job opportunity in Mexico come about?
My boss from the Four Seasons in Las Vegas got a new job as general manager of the Hacienda Beach Club in Cabo. He was in need of a director of guest services so he reached out to me via LinkedIn and told me about the position. I had already finished my MBA and was looking to return to the operations side of the industry and it seemed like a great opportunity. People in the hospitality industry always talk about taking an international job to enhance your experience. I accepted the position for that reason and also because I knew who my boss would be and that it would be a good work environment.
How have the skills and knowledge you learned in the MBA program helped in your current position?
I took quite a few finance courses and those have definitely helped. I oversee a lot of operations (spa, valet, concierge, beach activities, etc.) so I’m constantly trying to figure out ways to generate revenue. The MBA program also helped widen my spectrum of creative ideas. Hearing different perspectives from people from other industries forced me to think outside the box. Also, by working with different types of people in group settings, I learned to work as a team and that everyone doesn’t always have to agree to come up with the best solution.
How are you adjusting to living and working in Cabo?
The adjustment period has been easy because I’ve been living on property. The hardest part is being uprooted from my friends and family, but I’m loving the work. Hospitality just comes naturally to me. It’s been very easy to adjust to the culture because everyone here speaks English. I’ve set two goals for myself while I’m here in Mexico: to become fluent in Spanish and to learn how to scuba dive.
What do you like most about working in the hospitality industry? What’s most challenging?
The best thing about hospitality is knowing that you’re making people happy. I love working with people. Sometimes the hours are crazy and you’re super busy, but being around people makes me more energized. The most challenging part is the schedule. Sometimes you don’t get holidays off and Christmas is the busiest time in Cabo so I probably won’t be going home for Christmas this year.
What are some of the current mobile/digital marketing trends that hotels are using?
The use of tablets in hotels is starting to grow. When I was at Runtriz, I saw a significant increase in companies with mobile apps. Most hotels now have iPhone/iPad docs or offer tablets to use in rooms or public areas. I’ve also seen an increase in digital signage displays which are often used for marketing purposes. Hotels have also started jumping on Pinterest. Last year it was Instagram, now it’s Pinterest. It’s the hotels that are keeping up with the latest developments in social media that are cutting edge and ahead of the game. Hacienda Beach Club & Residences already uses tablets to show pictures and videos of different activities or places in the area. We’ve also started using tablets at check-in and will be joining Instagram and Pinterest very soon.
What are your long-term career goals?
I’d eventually like to return to the U.S. and take on more of a corporate hospitality role. My dream job is to travel and open new hotels around the world. I want to stay in operations management and be involved in the development of a hotel from start to finish.