The Next Best Thing

Written by Sarah Gardner, My Place Altoona, Iowa

Editor’s Note: As many hospitality professionals can attest, maintaining one’s own spark and capacity for opportunity is imperative. So, when opportunities abound as they have recently at My Place Hotels, we wanted to shed light on the benefits of capturing a few. Here’s Sarah Gardner from My Place Altoona, who writes to spark others with how she did it and why others should too

I’ve come to believe the best things come from unexpected places. My time as a student and Assistant General Manager at My Place Altoona, and as of very recent, a student AHLA member and AHLEF scholarship recipient, has made me certain of it. Call it a delightful fact of life or harmonious circumstances, but if that is the case, we should be open and ready to capture the next best thing.

I recognized the feeling when I began my internship at My Place Altoona, an opportunity I researched and eventually captured. What I didn’t expect was to find so much purpose in my interactions with our guests and teammates and develop myself professionally—as rapidly as I have. It just felt like the right thing, and eventually, the best thing. Before long, I would recognize it again… and again in just a matter of months.

The next time was when I became a student member of the American Hotel and Lodging Association and began diving into the resources it presented to me. As a driven hospitality student and hotel industry enthusiast, AHLA is an organization I have long admired and knew I wanted to be a part of. My membership gave me access to a wealth of resources to explore, including one I graciously captured most recently as an AHLEF scholar. As I near the end of my college days, AHLA has assured me that I will have the resources to further my education outside the classroom. Furthermore, it’s prepared me to run with one of America’s fastest growing brands, for its most prolific development group yet.

My Place Hotel’s new partnership with the American Hotel and Lodging Association is an exciting and incredible opportunity for everyone. As a fellow member of the My Place family, I deeply encourage you to take advantage of this incredible opportunity we have been given. You might be wondering, how can this benefit me? Well, we know it’s up to you, but I’ll leave you with the best AHLA resources for personal, property, and team development below:

Webinars: (

Webinars are my favorite resource that AHLA offers. They are fairly short, informative, and keep you in the loop of current issues, laws, and trends! Don’t have the time? I like to listen to them while I am driving home from work or taking a lunch break.

Best Practices Center: (

The Best Practices Center is a resource I use fairly often. This part of the site contains valuable information on anything from human resources to ADA regulations. If I have a question, this is the first place I go because I am confident that the information I am receiving is the best out there!

State Facts: (

State Facts is an interactive US map that contains information about hotel industries in every state. I love State Facts because it shows the impact each state is making in employment and economy. It even includes the number of guest rooms in each state!

Certifications: (

AHLA has a variety of certifications for hospitality professionals to further their education. These certifications include the Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA®), Chief Hospitality Revenue Manager (CHRM®), and many more. The best part is that they are offered at a discounted rate for AHLA members!

Lodging Magazine: (

AHLA’s Lodging Magazine is free to its members! To sign up, go to Lodging Magazine’s website and enter your membership number. The direct link is listed above!

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