With technology in the hospitality industry taking over, maintaining a distinct personality at a hotel is key. dana hotel and spa, located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, is bringing those personalized experiences to guests from the moment they check-in — and it all begins with the staff. That includes Events Manager Aleen Boghossi who defines the “i am dana” mantra for herself thanks to a family connection to the industry, and a willingness to help her clients and guests with anything they need. Sometimes that even means bringing a little Bruno Mars to the table!
WHAT LED YOU TO THE DANA HOTEL?
I grew up in hospitality. My father worked for hotels for over 20 years and owned various restaurants throughout my childhood. So it’s really in my blood.
I was first working for a larger hotel, focusing mainly on weddings. When the dana opportunity came up I loved the fact it was a boutique and independently owned hotel. Along with their unique style, the events position had a mixture of social and corporate events, which was a nice change from just one market.
WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKE THE DANA UNIQUE IN THE CHICAGO HOTEL WORLD?
Being an independent property allows for continuous creativity and growth. We are constantly encouraged to see what is going on in the industry and empowered to step out of our comfort zone to bring new, unique ideas to the property. We always want our guests to feel we are working as hard as possible to make sure their time with us is the best experience we can provide.
The events team is also one of the most hands-on I have ever seen. We become a part of the event with our clients so they always feel they are our top priority. By investing ourselves and time in each event we feel the excitement along with them when the event takes place.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS PEOPLE TEND TO FORGET WHEN PLANNING AN EVENT?
That we are dealing with people! Guests can be late, guests can forget to RSVP, they can bring additional people, and more. Knowing that the element of hiccups occurring is always there, but at the end of the day, good food, great service and a nice environment will always have them leaving happy!
WHAT IS THE COOLEST EVENT YOU HAVE WORKED AT THE HOTEL?
One of my favorite events was for a corporate client who loved the Bruno Mars song “Uptown Funk.” I managed to pull off a surprise flash mob dance routine recreating the music video. We turned all the lights off in the venue as the song started and had it playing on the projector screen. Then 45 seconds into the song the lights turned back on and we had a dance crew run through the event recreating the video. All the guests joined in and the energy was contagious.
WHAT IS THE TOUGHEST PART OF YOUR JOB?
Time management really is key. One event can take over your entire work week. Knowing how to manage that and make sure you aren’t getting in over your head is vital. With that said, waiting until the last minute for any element of an event will stress you out more than you can ever imagine. It’s necessary to find that balance.
GIVEN THAT MANY EVENTS ARE AT NIGHT OR ON THE WEEKENDS, HOW DO YOU FIND A GOOD WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
Most of my friends are in this industry and my family as well. So, we all really understand a non-traditional schedule and we make it work. Using off nights to get together as well as run all of your errands is actually much better in my opinion.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO UNWIND?
Working out is my sanity. I make sure I incorporate yoga, Soul Cycle, etc in my schedule. Having one full hour a day with no phone, just to myself is amazing. Wine nights with my girlfriends don’t hurt either!
WHAT IS THE BEST PROFESSIONAL ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
That you are going to make mistakes. Not every event is going to be perfect. Don’t dwell on those and let them get you down. Simply leave them in the past, learn from them and use it as a tool to be better next time.