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Alumni Engagement

Grad profile: Crystal Hay (Hospitality and Tourism Management, 2010)

May 31, 2011

When you consider her history, it’s really not surprising that Red River College alum Crystal Hay wound up working in the hospitality industry.

For Hay — a recent graduate of RRC’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program — hotel work is literally a family affair.

“My family owned a few small rural hotels — in Grand Marais, Falcon Lake and Lake of the Woods,” says Hay, 28, who earned her major in the program’s Hotel and Restaurant Management stream.

“So I spent a lot of my summers as a teenager out at Falcon Lake, doing everything from housekeeping to serving to working in the front office, and everything in between. I guess that’s how I got my start in the industry.”

In addition to the aforementioned hotel-related skills, Hay’s summer work experience also helped her cultivate her people skills — which come in handy in her current job, as the Group Reservations and Revenue Assistant at Delta Winnipeg.

“I’m not an extrovert by any means,” says Hay. “As soon as I’m in a building like this it comes easy to me, but outside of work I’m very much an introvert. The experience definitely helped me to become more outspoken and outgoing.”

Somewhat surprisingly, Hay waited until her mid-20s — after she’d spent several years working in health care — before enrolling in RRC’s Hospitality program. But she took to her courses like a duck to water.

“It was awesome,” she says of the training she received. “The instructors all have industry background, so it’s not like you’re being lectured to out of a textbook — they know what they’re talking about because they’ve been there, they’ve done that and they have the experience to pull from.”

“And the courses are very well thought-out, as far as being able to apply what you learn in the classroom to what you do on a day-to-day basis.”

Especially useful was the blend of industry-related coursework and business expertise, which Hay says proved invaluable once she entered the workforce.

“I did have some experience going in, but I also learned a lot more from the courses, which I think rounded out my skill set,” says Hay.

“And there were a couple of courses that I refer to on a daily basis, specifically Rooms Management, the Accounting courses, and Meetings and Conventions. Those are the three areas I deal with now, and without that training, I wouldn’t be able to take on this position.”

These days, Hay handles all of Delta’s group accommodations — everything from large conventions to smaller tours — and assists with all manner of revenue-related duties. And though Delta’s hectic pace is a far cry from the vibe at her family’s old hotels, she says she couldn’t be happier in her new post.

“When you’re working with a mom-and-pop operation like that, something that’s family-owned, it’s usually a little more casual,” she says.

“Now that I’m in a larger hotel, with hotels across Canada, it’s a much different experience. The other hotels I had experienced were basically summer activity only. But this is go-go-go, all year long, which is a much better fit for me.”

Click here for more information about Red River College’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program.

Click here for more information about Delta Winnipeg.