Monica Corbin has rooms — a lot of them.
She’s chief operating officer of an expanding hotel enterprise owned by area man Dave Patel.
Corbin, 44, who worked her way up from a front desk/night auditor job, oversees operations of three existing hotels in the region and one inn set to open in May next year.
Every day, she stops at each of the Patel properties: the Country Inn and Suites in Cuyahoga Falls, the Best Western in Jackson Township and the Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott in Green along with the under-construction SpringHill Suites by Marriott, being built in Jackson Township off Dressler Road, west of Interstate 77.
All totaled, the four hotels encompass about 360 rooms.
She says half-jokingly that her biggest job challenge “is just knowing which building I’m in. Sometimes I answer the phone, and I say ‘Country Inn’ and I’m at the Best Western.”
Corbin, an Akron native and Buchtel High School graduate, started at the Patel hospitality enterprise 17 years ago, working at the Best Western in Jackson. She worked two days a week, at the front desk as a night auditor preparing bills.
After about two years, she was promoted to assistant general manager at that hotel. Quickly, she moved up to general manager, and in 1999, when the Country Inn opened in the Falls, she became general manager of both properties.
In 2002, the Patel enterprise grew to include the Fairfield Inn in Green, and about a year later Corbin once again added to her responsibilities, becoming general manager there as well. Corbin won Country Inn’s systemwide general manager of the year award in 2002.
She became chief operating officer earlier this year, still serving as general manager of the Patel properties.
She’s worked in the hotel industry since she attended college, more than two decades ago, working at an area Knight’s Inn.
“I just loved [the hospitality industry]. I didn’t go into anything else. I really learned to appreciate serving the guests, making them happy. ... The real fun is changing that [negative] experience someone may have had at the airport or on the road and turning their travel experience into a pleasant one.”
Life got busy, and she didn’t finish college. “Education is a beautiful thing,” she said. “Experience is equally important in the hospitality industry.”
She suggests that anyone in a hospitality management program “get some real life experience at the front desk of a hotel.”
Corbin checks with each property’s front desk and meets with the housekeeping and maintenance staff every workday. She’s responsible for hiring and marketing and works with the chief engineer on property upkeep and improvement. She often pitches in at the front desk, answering the phone.
“I have an awesome staff,” Corbin said. “That’s what enabled me to do my job.”
Her daughter Rayneisha Jones is on the staff, working as front desk manager at the Best Western in Jackson. She and her husband, Anthony Corbin, an engineer at Diebold Inc., have two other daughters, ages 14 and 6.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or email@example.com.