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Missy Handyside knows the hospitality business well – working her way up the ladder over the course of 25 years from entry level to executive.
“I started in the housekeeping department,” says Handyside, the current general manager of Oasis Hotel & Convention Center on Springfield’s north side. “I’ve done banquets, I’ve done front desk, sales and now managing. Still, 25-plus years later, the No. 1 goal is to provide excellent guest service.”
Four years after entering the industry, Handyside moved into sales and administration. She stepped out of hospitality for a few years, co-owning and launching Job Source, a weekly employment publication, which was later sold to Korpella Publishing LLC.
“The minute we sold that, I went right back to hospitality because that’s truly where my passion is,” she says.
She accepted the sales director role at the Clarion Hotel and was promoted to general manager in 2005. Four years later, she took the same role at Oasis.
But going from sales to GM came with a learning curve. At the Oasis, Handyside oversees not only 173 guest rooms and 125 employees at the Choice Hotels International Inc. affiliated property, but also large meeting and banquet spaces.
“I just surrounded myself with the right people that had that experience and knowledge,” she says.
In 2012, she led the Oasis through a $5.6 million expansion and remodeling project that added 30,000 square feet of event space connected to the hotel.
“I had to learn a lot about reading project budgets and other budgets for renovation and remodels,” she says.
But Handyside does not shy away from innovation and change. She plans to remodel 120 of the guest rooms this winter.
“The sky is the limit, and when brainstorming, the sky is usually the starting point for me,” she says.
Handyside works with staff at every level of operations, motivating them to take risks and step out of their comfort zones.
“I love to empower my associates to develop into additional leaders within our organization,” she says.
Working to combat the high turnover within the industry, Handyside leads with compassion.
“Rather than lose some valuable associates from the workplace as they start a family, I’ve worked with them to create a flexible work schedule where they can stay employed part-time, preventing resume gaps and allowing a seamless transition back to the full-time workplace when they are ready,” she says.
To develop her staff professionally, Handyside sends employees to educational trade shows and conferences, and builds their confidence through internal acknowledgments and external industry awards.
“Being able to recognize these deserving individuals for their determination and hard work, and seeing the inspiration that it sparks, is very rewarding for me,” she says.
Handyside often gets out of the office herself, too. She is currently on the board of directors for Springfield Hotel Lodging Association and Harmony House.
In an effort to provide flexibility to their workers, some area businesses are beginning to offer four-day workweeks.
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