Luxury hospitality management to CSM career change

Ian Schwarz
Ian Schwarz Member Posts: 1 Navigator
edited August 2023 in CS Conversations
Hello GGR Community,

I am in the process of pursuing a change from luxury hospitality management into a CSM role and was looking for any input or advice on this matter. I have 10+ years management experience in hospitality (Dept. Rev $20M+ ) and offshore transportation as well as heading up multiple SaaS implementations on the client side. 

Are there any certifications, trainings, or reading I should focus on? I am very excited about this potential opportunities in this field. If any community members have any insight, it would be greatly appreciated. 

Enjoy your weekend,

Ian Schwarz


  • Matt Myszkowski
    Matt Myszkowski Member Posts: 143 Expert
    First Comment Photogenic First Anniversary
    edited July 2021
    Hi Ian,

    This is such a tough to answer in here - I am happy to have a chat. What I would say is this:

    - Be active in this community
    - Listen to the Customer Success podcasts - GGR is one of many, you will find the ones that suit your needs
    - Read the content - there is again lots of available - be prepared to see conflicting opinions & views on topics such as owning renewals, paid vs unpaid, value of QBRs/Account health - read, learn & form your own opinions but stay open minded & curious
    - Don't worry too much about certifications but if you want a headstart I recommend - however, as a hiring manager of over 12 years I have never ask for a certification - I want people to demonstrate relationship management skills, change management, curiosity, delivering outcomes, empathy, 
    - Look for a mentor
    - Look for CSM roles in the industries you have worked (hospitality & transportation) - I have seen a number of roles recently for both of these

    I hope this is a good start?
  • Brian Hartley
    Brian Hartley Member Posts: 185 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary
    edited July 2021
    Hey, @Ian Schwarz - there are a handful of folks on here that came from hospitality.

    I would reach out to @Susan Maarup and @Tim Gilhooly as they both came directly from that space!
  • Joshua Lyons
    Joshua Lyons Member Posts: 6 Seeker
    Photogenic First Comment First Anniversary
    edited July 2021
    Hi Ian,

    Happy to have a conversation to provide insight I've gained during my time in CS.  Send me a message if you'd like to chat.


  • Susan Maarup
    Susan Maarup Member Posts: 8 Seeker
    First Anniversary
    edited July 2021
    Hi Ian,
    I transitioned from hospitality to CS earlier this year.  I would be happy to chat with you about certifications that I got, books I read and how I navigated through the process. There are lots of resources and many helpful people. Reach out!
  • Katie Baker
    Katie Baker Member Posts: 9 Seeker
    edited July 2021
    Former Director of Member Relations at private Country Clubs and now Sr Manager of CS Ops. To me, this is one of the easiest industry transitions. Your mindset is already focused on your 'customer', you're used to being proactive and having difficult conversations. Stress those things in your interviews! My advice would be to first, target SAAS companies that serve the hospitality industry or areas where you have the most knowledge. I didn't, and it worked out, but it's definitely a lower barrier to entry as those companies are dying to find CSMs with the background and ability to connect to their customers that you have. Second, take in all the general industry info you can. I'm partial to Gainsight as a thought leader in the community, but they are just one of many. There are SO many books, blogs, webinars, and podcasts out can really take your pick and make sure this is really the right move for you and potentially find an area you want to focus (ie. enterprise accounts, tech touch, onboarding) within customer success.
  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 248 Expert
    First Comment Name Dropper First Anniversary
    edited July 2021
    I'm also former hospitality. I gained my entry into CS theough a hotel revenue management software company. Usually the best way to get in. Look into Cloudbeds, Archtics, Sevenrooms, Duetto, Ideas, Agilysis, Oracle Opera, HotSos, Toast, Popmenu
  • Tim Gilhooly
    Tim Gilhooly Member Posts: 17 Thought Leader
    Photogenic First Anniversary First Comment
    edited August 2021
    There are a lot of paralells. Susan and I are from similar backgrounds. I am glad to share my experience in the transition.
  • Ashton Liu
    Ashton Liu Member Posts: 29 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary
    edited August 2021
    To Kevin's point, the hospitality industry is so specialized that many vendors prefer to recruit from the industry. That would arguably the most seamless path, but your pathway would depend on what your role and expertise is. For some context, at Duetto since we're a revenue strategy platform, we look for revenue management experience for CSMs. Every role is different of course. To give you an idea of how others in hospitality have transitioned, people with ops/rooms backgrounds have done well in our technical support team, and those with distribution/PMS implementation backgrounds (e.g., Opera administrators, BI specialists, etc.) gravitate toward onboarding and integrations. These are generalizations but highlight the broader point: the key is not just industry experience but also relates to individual experience and expertise. I've also seen people go into sales, as well as positions outside of tech (asset managers, real estate/ finance, etc.). I'll note that not all hostility vendors have CS functions and many focus heavily on technical support.  

    If you're looking outside hospitality, I'll defer to others' opinions. I'll just add that in following posts and comments here since its inception, I've seen a lot of CS leaders open to recruiting from diverse backgrounds.
  • AJ Mackey
    AJ Mackey Member Posts: 4 Seeker
    First Comment
    edited August 2021