CEO of Landry’s, Inc., star of “Billion Dollar Buyer,” brilliantly successful hotelier and owner of the Houston Rockets, Tilman Fertitta is a giant in the hospitality industry. In fact, Forbes calls him the “world’s richest restauranteur.” You wouldn’t know this by talking to him, however.

While Fertitta has climbed every professional ladder, he has set his sights on, he also radiates the approachable, friendly and amenable personality traits needed to excel in this business. When we asked him about his advice for those pursuing careers in hospitality, he was thrilled to impart his wealth of knowledge. He also offered his insights regarding employee retention and debunked a common myth.

How to succeed in the hospitality industry

Tilman Fertitta’s roadmap for success as a hospitality professional is simple: set yourself apart by performing your job well. According to Fertitta, “If you’re a detail-oriented person who’s willing to work hard, you can start out as a waiter and within a few short years, work your way up to the corporate level.”

“The myth is that we don’t work as many hours as people think we do, but we do work days that most people are home relaxing.”

Because excellence in these fields is so performance- and customer-satisfaction based, Fertitta also believes hospitality is one of the few industries in which a college education matters far less than work ethic. He said that he never promotes within his companies due to an individual’s education level. All his employees begin with entry-level positions, and receive advanced job titles, responsibilities and salaries in accordance with their experience, dedication and demonstrated capabilities.

While speaking about the importance of your work performance and quality standards, Fertitta reiterates the significance of having a passion for the hospitality industry. He believes a person must truly enjoy serving others and ensuring they enjoy an amazing guest experience. Even as a billionaire, he remains available for customer and employee questions. Fertitta also repeats how crucial it is to set yourself apart. Clean surroundings, impeccable guest care and a positive attitude are paramount to securing a flourishing hospitality career.

Employee retention

The hospitality industry is often fraught with worker turnover. This is especially apparent within hotels and restaurants. When asked about his input regarding how business owners can reduce turnover and improve employee retention, Fertitta advises that offering plenty of hours and paying better wages are key.

The ability to pay waitstaff and hotel workers higher rates lies within the size of your business. If you run a larger restaurant or hotel, you will bring in more profit and require more staff.

Tips for implementing cloud-based systems and technology

From customer management, to payroll processing, to filing systems — cloud-based investments are necessary for business efficiency. Even owners of older hotels are beginning to streamline their operations with newer technology. Fertitta recommends to hoteliers and other hospitality company runners who are unfamiliar with these techniques to utilize their business owners associations and other groups to which they belong for guidance and software offerings that fit their needs.

Myth debunked

When questioned about the most common myth surrounding the hospitality field, Fertitta had no trouble coming up with an answer. He said the public perpetuates a common misconception about individuals such as airline employees, waitstaff and hotel workers being required to put in exorbitantly long hours. While they do work holidays, today’s hospitality professionals tend to receive shifts of regular length. “The myth is that we don’t work as many hours as people think we do, but we do work days that most people are home relaxing,” Fertitta said.