Millennials Find Higher Pay and Perks in Luxury Jobs


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Theresa Zimmerman recently received complimentary lodging at a top luxury resort in Mexico for five days with two friends because she works at a luxury hotel chain in the U.S. "The perks make working in the luxury industry that much more enticing," said Zimmerman, a sales coordinator with Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue in Manhattan. "I receive extremely discounted room rates at all the properties as well as 50% off all food and beverage."

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The 24-year-old New Yorker is among a recent wave of Millennials who studied the luxury market in college and have found higher paying jobs after graduating. In just the hotel management segment of the luxury industry alone, the average starting salary is $42,000.

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"Employers in the luxury segment of the hospitality industry offer the highest pay and typically the most comprehensive benefits to their associates," said William Frye, associate professor with the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Niagara University in New York.

It took Zimmerman several months just to learn the language of luxury, which includes phrases like "May I suggest," "My pleasure" and "Absolutely."

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"One of the standards that is universal in the luxury industry is to protect the guest's privacy," said Zimmerman who graduated from Niagara University with a concentration in luxury hospitality operations.

In addition to the travel and hospitality industry, luxury-oriented jobs can be found at high end car, clothing, accessories, retailers and jewelry companies such as Maybach, Maserati, Prada Louis Vuitton, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, Gulfstream, Cessna, Cartier and Harry Winston.

"Every single interaction and detail matters from your appearance to your body language and even down to your business card," said Amy Domiano, a 23-year-old who works as a manager at The Shops in Manhattan's Columbus Circle. "It's all a representation of the brand."

Luxury has its privileges, but as American society becomes more casual in communication, grooming habits and work ethic, fewer Millennials are equipped for jobs among the richest.

"There is a shortage of candidates who have the ability and desire to be employed in an environment where sophistication, discretion, personal presence, self-control and respect for others is de rigueur," Frye told MainStreet.

Being groomed, well-educated, articulate, discreet, friendly, respectful, punctual, reliable and consistent is only half of what's expected by luxury employers.

"Working in the luxury industry requires immense training, because it is not something that can be picked up overnight or by reading a textbook," Domiano told MainStreet.

One tenet is to leave flamboyance at the door.

"These jobs typically do not offer employees the opportunity to exhibit their personal and individual points of flair that can run the gamut from eclectic and outrageous to bizarre," said Frye.

Instead, luxury jobs require Millennials to work without placing their own personal interests and comforts at the forefront and because the ultra wealthy have the money to pay for this higher level of coddling, employees earn more money on average.

"There is a direct correlation between what customers or guests pay for hospitality services and accommodations and what employees of this segment earn," Frye said. Nice work if you can get it.

--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet

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