Michael Houser: Happy Valley’s Hospitality Environment Is Like No Other!

– by Cara Aungst

Michael Houser is only 19, but he says that it’s long enough to know exactly what he wants, and where he wants to be. “In the future, I see myself in a sales and management role, either in the hospitality industry or somewhere else that fits me. And I definitely want to stick around Happy Valley, as the overall environment is like no other! The area is amazing with all of the small businesses, local restaurants, and of course, the diverse Penn State student atmosphere.”

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Michael started in the hospitality industry at 14, working for HFL Corporation, which includes Sleep Inn and Comfort Suites in State College. Today, he works full time at Comfort Suites, and also is a full time student at South Hills School of Business & Technology, majoring in Business Management and Marketing.

“I started as a Front Desk Agent for Comfort Suites & Sleep Inn in 2018,” he said. “Fast forward to 2022, and I'm now the Guest Relations Manager & Director of Social Media for HFL-Hotels. My job is to make our guests happy and manage the online reputation by keeping the Facebook pages up to date, along with replying to past guest reviews.”

He says that his role has enabled him to build long-lasting relationships with our guests. “At the beginning of the check-in process, I always ask, ‘What brings you to town?’ Then, I go from there. If they've never been to Happy Valley, I like to give them a list of local restaurants that I would recommend. If they're visiting Penn State, I provide them with a campus map and ask if they know how to get to the building that they're looking for, etc. Simply, with that extra step, it makes a difference. The guest will remember that.”

Michael says that his favorite part of his job is meeting new people and making them happy. Second best? Every day of work is totally different. “I get to do anything from going above and beyond to hearing their background. I really enjoy listening to people.”

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He says that the last few years have been a challenge for Comfort Suites, like all hotels, but despite the impact of the pandemic, Comfort Suites’ ranking has gone up. “In 2020, the Comfort Suites was a Gold Choice Hotels Award-Winner (top 10% of the brand), in 2021, the Comfort Suites was a Ring of Honor Choice Hotels Award-Winner (top 3% of the brand, skipping the Platinum Award, which is top 5% of the brand), and in 2022, it has just been awarded the Best of Choice Hotels Award (#1 Comfort Suites in the brand).” he said. “This is certainly something to be proud of for our entire team.”

It all comes down to Michael and the rest of the Comfort Suites team going above and beyond, he says. “We work hard behind the scenes to make our visitors’ stay an enjoyable one. Anything from cleaning a guest room, to preparing for a group arrival… so much behind-the-scenes work goes into each guest's stay that they wouldn't even think about. Even the little things like room assignments — we go above and beyond to accommodate our guest's needs and requests, and placing their room correctly throughout the hotel is key.”

“They're spending their hard-earned money on booking their stay with us and we want to provide them with an unforgettable hotel experience.”

The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau publishes up-to-date event information at HappyValley.com/events