Yaniery Arroyo Familia, general manager at the Extended Stay America (ESA) Boca Raton in Boca Raton, Fla., began her hospitality career as a housekeeper. After she moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic, Familia was in need of a job. She needed something that would allow her to not just work, but also to go to school, with the aim of improving both her English and career prospects. A part-time housekeeping gig was the perfect job to accomplish those goals.
Soon, Familia realized that a part-time job in the hotel industry could become a career, and she set her sights on climbing through the ranks. Over the course of nine years, Familia has worked in housekeeping, at the front desk, as a team lead, assistant manager, and training manager across five different ESA properties. Three years ago, she became a general manager. When COVID-19 hit and turned the hospitality industry upside down, Familia took the initiative to educate herself about the virus. She also made it her mission to stay up to date on evolving CDC guidelines. “Understanding was the very first step to effectively informing and guiding my team and guests. I had to make sure we were taking all the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe. That was my top priority,” Familia says.
Familia adds that while COVID-19 changed the dynamics of the entire industry, she is grateful it has brought everybody closer together. “The support among my employees was unbelievable, I thought everybody reacted very well,” she notes.
Familia has also focused on giving that same level of support to her guests. Just one example: When the pandemic first started, Familia had a guest who had moved out of her home to stay at the hotel to isolate herself. Familia described her as panicked and recalled that she would never leave her room. Throughout her stay, the guest would order packages, but when they arrived, she would call the front desk to have everything taken up to her because she did not feel comfortable stepping out of the guestroom.
“Yaniery’s tenacity and spirit are infectious. She inspires everyone that meets her and is one of a kind. Her energy and passion shines through her smile and work ethic every day.”
— Susan Wenberg, District Manager, Extended Stay America
It didn’t sit right with Familia that this guest felt so unsafe, so she hatched a plan. “I asked if she would give me the opportunity to show her the precautions we were taking to keep everyone safe so that she could feel comfortable leaving her room. It took a little bit of convincing, but she agreed.”
Familia showed the guest the processes followed by her team when they receive packages. Familia also showed the guest how the staff disinfects door handles, elevators, and how the team enforces social distancing.
“I took her through our processes, step-by-step. Afterwards, she ended up leaving her room and coming down to get packages because she felt confident and secure,” Familia says.
Familia adds that she loves making a difference in someone’s life, and that making sure her guests feel comfortable and consider her hotel their “home-away-from-home” is very important.
“I have such a passion for what I do, I want my guests to feel welcome and show them that I care. For me, making somebody else feel comfortable means a lot. I cannot imagine my life without working in this industry because it has given me the opportunity to help,” Familia says.