In your own words, tell us, who is Russell Edmond?
Over 25 years of progressive experience within the hotel industry, and now as an Entrepreneur and Hospitality Consultant. I assist people, companies, and organizations with connecting and collaboration. This includes Business Development, Content Creating, Brand Marketing and Financial Services. I’m also the Host of On Air with Russell of Hotels which is a radio and Facebook Live show that's dedicated to Hospitality Professionals. Oh, and did I mention that I am a Veggie-Foodie? Yes! Always looking for good non-meat eats!
Can you tell us about your journey?
My journey began at Cal Poly Pomona University majoring in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Management.
What or who inspired you to get work in the travel industry?
The lack of diversity within my college major was the main motivating factor. I think there were only three Black Students within the major at that time. I was so inspired by the lack of diversity, I wrote my Senior Thesis on “Blacks in the Hospitality Industry.”
The reason being, I wanted to know where they were, what were their experiences, and why so few were represented within the hospitality industry. This was in the mid to late ’80s, so there were very few in management positions on a national level. That interview/survey proved to be a real eye-opening experience. I interviewed 7 individuals who were all Hospitality Executives from the Restaurant, Hotel & Convention & Visitors Bureau space. Their stories were the reason I decided to dedicate my career to the hospitality industry.
In 2020, there continues to be a lack of diversity and inclusion in travel, how has that impacted you personally or professionally?
I can only relate this to space where I’m familiar and where I came from, so within the hotel space, it’s sad. However, it’s more than the lack of diversity & inclusion. The lack of awareness is also a key factor, meaning are we doing a good job in promoting our Hotel and Hospitality programs at High School Career Days? Are college & university recruiters who look like me going into inner-city schools and promoting their hotel programs? I would say not! Most people arrived in the hotel industry by accident, meaning it was not their goal to work in a hotel, they needed a job and with hard work & dedication it ended up as a rewarding career because they became aware of the many opportunities once they were “inside.” The problem lies with getting “inside” and being exposed to opportunities. Recently, I’ve spent time at my former college and found the lack of Black students is no different than it was when I attended. So there is much work to do! I have offered my assistance, so maybe we can change the narrative.
What have been any challenges you have experienced in the travel industry?
While there were challenges with going from a housekeeping manager at a limited-service hotel to Director of Sales & Marketing & General Manager at a Full-Service Hotel, most of my challenges came from hotel guests who would, at times, challenge my authority as a manager or person in charge. Some guests would ask for another manger or the number of the corporate office.
How can we as a team, community, and the public be supportive and amplify your voice as a Black travel expert and creator?
Know that I’m here to assist. Don’t be afraid to reach out & ask questions! Most importantly, I’m a hotel and travel expert and a social media content creator who happens to be Black!
What advice would you tell your younger self?
Always embrace who you are! Don’t get caught up in the noise of others!
What is your hope for the future?
The climate of our nation has changed and of course, the hospitality industry has taken a huge hit. So, my hope for the future is that we get back to 2019 levels within the next 18-24 months. And I also hope to see more associates who look like me welcome me into their hotels!
Anything else you want to share?
From the workplace setting to attending social events, you’re always on stage performing, so act accordingly!
Where can the audience find out more about you?