BOONE, N.C. — It’s Chris Mahan’s job to manage the stars — stars awarded by Forbes Travel Guide based on facility inspections and service inspections of hotels.
As the front office supervisor and manager on duty at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, Mahan ’17 manages a team that upholds the inn’s four-star rating and strives toward the “gold standard” of a five-star designation.
While on duty, the Appalachian State University alumnus oversees the front desk, concierges, bellman and valet, as well as telecommunication operations.
“I enjoy aiming to impress through hospitality and the presentation of a detail-oriented destination,” said Mahan, who is originally from Raleigh. “It is important for me to know that arriving guests feel comfortable and welcomed throughout their stay, and that departing guests feel satisfied and rejuvenated.”
Mahan earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) in management from Appalachian in 2017. He said his interpersonal skills were honed in business communications classes at Appalachian.
“Being an effective communicator is a must if you want to successfully lead and motivate a team,” Mahan said. “The hotel, and Biltmore Estate as a whole, has a lot of moving parts working for one goal, and I’ve learned that having superb communication makes for a seamless operation.”
As a student-athlete at Appalachian, Mahan learned to manage numerous “moving parts,” he said. He was recruited to play on the tennis team and balanced a challenging practice and match schedule with his studies.
During the summers, Mahan coached youths and adults in tennis at Boone area country clubs, further developing his leadership and motivation skills.
Although Mahan didn’t enroll at Appalachian with a goal of entering the hospitality industry, several of his classes through the Walker College of Business pointed him in that direction, including Dr. Carol Kline’s Survey of the Hospitality and Tourism Industry class. “We had numerous guest speakers (during the class) that provided personal insight,” he said.
Mahan commented, “From my personal experience, the business program is very broad — in a good way. No one ever wants to feel like they’re stuck with a lack of options.”
His most memorable class was in human resources, taught by now retired adjunct professor Steven Newhouse. “He used many quotes centered around leadership, management and teamwork. One that sticks with me is ‘Employees don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,’” Mahan shared.
After graduating, Mahan scored a six-month internship with The Biltmore Co., which transitioned into a permanent position. As an intern, he rotated roles through departments at The Inn, performing various housekeeping and front office tasks that prepared him well for his role in management, he said.
“Knowing what others do in their positions is very valuable, as it provides me understanding and appreciation,” he said.
What do you think?
Share your feedback on this story.
About the Department of Management
The Department of Management offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs to prepare students for managerial responsibilities in today’s dynamic environment. Learn more at https://management.appstate.edu.
About the Walker College of Business
The Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University delivers transformational educational experiences that prepare and inspire students to be ethical, innovative and engaged business leaders who positively impact our community, both locally and globally. The college places emphasis on international experiences, sustainable business practices, entrepreneurial programs and real-world applications with industry. Enrolling approximately 3,000 undergraduates in 10 majors and 175 graduate students in three master's programs, the Walker College is accredited by AACSB International – the premier global accrediting body for schools of business. Learn more at https://business.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier, public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.