This York College Hospitality Management grad considers himself the ‘luckiest guy in the casino’
Customers who visit Jeff Carter’s place of work often walk in mystified by bright, flashing lights, entranced by the sounds of ringing bells and clanking coins, and filled with hope and adrenaline that their fortunes can change with the pull of a lever or a roll of the dice.
Odds are, many of those customers will leave empty-handed, but it’s Carter’s job to make sure you had a good time overall when visiting Hollywood Casino Perryville in Maryland.
And that’s where his hospitality training from York College of Pennsylvania kicks in.
“Even when those people lose, I have to make sure they have a good experience,” he says. “Often, it’s not easy, but I like the challenge.”
Making people feel comfortable
Carter, a Baltimore native, always knew he wanted to work in a casino full time.
He grew up around casinos and the gaming industry, he says. His family members are such avid gamblers that his grandmother actually taught him how to count playing 500 rummy.
While at York College, he switched majors during his junior year when the Hospitality Management major was created. He became a member of the first graduating class in December 2014.
It was something he says he was always interested in, but more from a personal side than a business side.
“I like getting to know people on a personal level. I like making people feel comfortable. I also enjoy learning about new things and new cultures,” he says.
Luck on his side
Luck just happened to be on his side when one of his professors, Shelly La Motte, brought in the vice president of casino marketing for Hollywood Casino Perryville.
Carter had already taken her class, but La Motte knew of his interests and wanted the two to meet.
From there, Carter landed an internship, which he jokes must have gone in his favor since he’s now working there full time and currently holds the title of Casino Services Ambassador.
While at York College, Carter did three work experiences that he said taught him a lot about the hospitality industry.
Between those and his classes, he felt ahead of the curve with other professionals in the field.
Those experiences helped him be more multifaceted, so he’s able to adjust and handle situations that might not be in his written job description – such as hosting parties and beer tastings at the casino.
His favorite thing about hospitality is that he doesn’t have the traditional customer to merchant relationship.
“Someone doesn't give me $20 and I give them a T-shirt or something like that. I sell an experience,” he said.
Customer not always right?
Carter says being able to work on the fly is an important part of the job – even more so when an unhappy customer loses his winnings and comes to Carter to complain.
“I've never had an upset patron leave more upset after talking to me,” Carter says. “I think that has to do with the fact that I can understand where these patrons are coming from. With me being around the gaming industry most of my life I can relate to the players’ frustrations.”
His schooling helped teach him that the customer may not always be right, but sometimes they just need to vent.
Enter the hospitality gig, where he’s usually at the front end of those frustrations, and it’s his job to turn them around.
But when it comes to that, Carter considers the odds on his side.
“I'm the luckiest guy at the casino, and I can't even gamble there,” Carter says. “I credit that to York College and Shelly.”
York College is proud to offer one of the best Hospitality Management schools in Pennsylvania, where our Hospitality Management major prepares students for one of the largest and most diverse career fields in the U.S. Where will a Hospitality Management degree take you?