Vince Burneikis is the VP of Hospitality at Caruso. Before taking the position, Vince had rich experience working in the hotel industry. Furthermore, his strong work ethic from a young age instilled by working manual labor jobs gave him the multiple life and work experiences necessary to excel in his current position.
Vince started his career in the early 1990s as a bellman at the Guest Quarters hotel in Michigan. In the early stages of his career, whenever a position opened up, he applied for it, whether it be the valet, front desk, or even housekeeping. Vince graduated from Michigan State University in 2000 and attained a degree in their Hospitality and Business program. During this time as a student, he also worked weekends at the Townsend Hotel 90 minutes away, where he continued to gain work experience as a doorman and concierge. After graduation, Vince began working for the Four Seasons Hotels where he worked his way up in the operations department over a 10-year period and spent time in Chicago, Boston, and Atlanta. The Four Seasons taught him how to run a luxury property and he got great insight into the company’s systematic workings. He then transitioned to working in Human Resources and Development for Trump International, where his role was exposed to bigger thinking and an entrepreneurial atmosphere.
Based on his work experience, Vince caught the attention of Caruso, and after seeing there was a big space for hospitality in what they did, he became the V.P. of Learning, Development, & Hospitality. As the V.P. of Learning, Development, & Hospitality, his goal is to make people happy every day where the focus is on providing a great guest experience. In order to stay current, Vince believes that service, and how it is provided, needs to change with the expectation of the customer. By overseeing the quality of Caruso’s properties, checking in with employees in different departments, and onboarding and training new employees, Vince helps ensure that Caruso achieves the guest hospitality it strives for.
Vince defined success for his position both statistically and by gut. Statistically, low turnover, positive reviews, and few complaints is a success. Also, since he’s been on the job for some time, he can judge success by the smiles on people’s faces: guests and employees. The method for providing a great experience according to Vince is to provide a great product that’s safe and clean, have great service that stems from hiring the best people, set up employees for success through engagement and training, and create an atmosphere that engages the senses. As the world continues to shrink because of technological advances, hospitality and guest experience is the new competitive advantage.
Vince’s advice for current students is to get a job now—don’t even wait until graduation. Get a job that’s available in the industry you want to get into and pick a company and boss you admire and would want to work for. By working your way up, playing the game for the long run, and not worrying about title and pay right away, you will be successful.