Christopher Rondeau, Chicago Hospitality Professional of the Month (April 2018)April 10th, 2018 | hereschicago
Can you tell us your current position, company and describe what you do?
I’m the Sales Manager (Group Sales Manager) at 360 CHICAGO, the artist formerly known as John Hancock Observatory (the entire 94th floor of the John Hancock Center). May 2018 is 5 years with the company. I drive ticket sales, group ticket sales and look for leads to book events here as we double as an event space for partial and full buy out events before, during and after normal operating hours. I am the concierge liaison for our attraction and all hotels, hostels and non-hotel concierge desks in the city are my accounts. I’m active in a number of business to business networking organizations and chambers of commerce (Magnificent Mile Association, Chicago Hotel Concierge Association, River North Business Association, Choose Chicago, Chicago Loop Alliance, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Streeterville Chamber of Commerce). I have a 10 state region and travel monthly to meet with tour operators, destination management companies and motor coach companies sending groups to Chicago. I also attend national tradeshows to meet with these same targeted operators.
What aspects of hospitality do you incorporate in your business today?
All aspects as we are an icon in the city and a tourist attraction. We are connected to all aspects of the city as a result.
Where did your hospitality career begin and when was that “aha” moment when you knew you were supposed to be in hospitality as a career?
At 15 years old I was a bag boy in a grocery store. At 16 years old I worked in banquet set up at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Green Bay, WI and that was what started the path I remain on today.
How many years have you been in the hospitality business?
Why do you feel you are hospitality professional of the month? What would your friends say about you if they were nominating you?
I am extremely active in the networking/hospitality/events/concierge community. I volunteer with the Magnificent Mile Association (Membership Committee), River North Business Association (Marketing and Mentoring Committees), Choose Chicago (2017, 2018 Ambassador) and Gateway Green (Green Tie Ball annual gala). I work for 3 companies on the side as a banquet bartender (Atomic Hospitality, J&L Catering, Shiftgig). I love Chicago and promoting it. I have a lust for life because of the city and that’s why I moved here from Wisconsin in the first place.
What qualities do you feel a person needs to excel in as a hospitality professional?
Passion, interest/engagement, curiosity, the genuine desire to promote your business and city, a lust for life, meeting people and going new places, open-mindedness, humbleness, being extroverted
How did you get into hospitality field?
I knew at 16 years old in my first hotel I wanted some type of career in hospitality. Everyday felt new, different and exciting.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
In regards to where I am now – me. I didn’t have any true mentors or guides along the way. Everything has been trial and error and learning the hard way. I really like that in hindsight.
What kinds of things really make you laugh?
Chris Rock, Bill Maher, Dave Chappelle, amazing networking events with everyone having social drinks
What’s your favorite place in the entire world?
That I have been to so far – Jamaica
Who is your best friend? What do you like about him/her?
My guy Jason who I’ve known since 6th grade. I was the best man at his wedding. He’s an entrepreneur out in Washington state at present.
What is your favorite movie of all time? Why so?
Scarface. I’ve seen it more than 50 times and can recite almost the entire movie line for line as it plays.
What’s your biggest goal in life right now?
3 actually – Settle down and have kids. Retire with this company after at least 2-4 more promotions. Travel.
What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday?
I bartend high end private events 95% of my Saturdays. My favorite Saturdays are when tips are good.
Do you have any pet peeves?
Trump and his supporters
What was your family like growing up?
Blue collar military household
What were you like as a kid?
I was a skateboarder with my head shaved except for my bangs which were past my chin
What should I know about you that I’d never think to ask about?
I’m somewhat religious (raised Catholic) without broadcasting it or shoving my beliefs down anyone’s throat
Did you—or do you—have a nickname? What’s the story behind it?
I’ve have many different ones over the years, but my whole life I’ve been known by my last name – Rondeau.
Have you received any praise or accolades recently?
As of 2017 I am now the all-time top recruiter volunteer on the Membership Committee for the Magnificent Mile Association (on it almost 5 years)
What type of events you plan?
I’m involved with the entire spectrum of events and involvement to varying degrees between my 4 jobs.
What type of music do you love?
Drum and bass from 1996-1999, 80s music (almost all genres), 80s and 90s hip hop
What don’t people know about you?
I’m going to be 40 in October. My baby face has most people think I’m younger all the time.
What do you love about planning events in Chicago?
Promoting Chicago as a city, destination, the transportation hub of the US and the capital of the Midwest
What is your favorite restaurant or bar (Personally)?
Red Head Piano Bar (RIP Art). For restaurants there are almost too many to name based on category of food, but some are – Joe’s Stone Crab and Prime Steak, PRM Steak, Prosecco, Coco Pazzo, Dimo’s Pizza, NIU Sushi, Beatnik, Bottled Blonde, I could literally ramble forever with this one . . .
When not working, what do you love to do?
Travel, pro sporting events, go to new restaurants, grand openings of hotels, restaurants, etc., movies, events in general, basketball, pool, walking, biking, big name comedians live
Besides your professional talent, do you have any personal talents? (Play guitar, etc.)
I think I’m pretty funny
Have you ever sung karaoke? If so, what song?
Only like 3 songs ever – I can’t recall which as it’s been years and cocktails were involved
Future trends in event planning?
Chicago shifting back into a more positive light and increased opportunities for everyone with the new additional coming to O’Hare
What does it take to be a successful even planner?
You gotta love it, like isn’t sustainable to achieve real success and satisfaction from it
What is your favorite color?
Green or 3 way tie for non-colors (black, gray, white)
What are you passionate about?
Making people laugh and have fun
What do you recommend for others who want to get into the hospitality profession?
A very strong work ethic – work hard and play just as hard
Are you a Cubs or Sox fan?
I’m not from Illinois so I root Chicago (either side of town), but if I was from here I know I’d have to choose
What’s your go-to meal when you’re home alone?
What’s your favorite thing about your hometown?
The Packers and their 4 Super Bowl trophies
Which book(s) have you read multiple times?
I don’t read books and never read any book multiple times – I read online news – I need audio and visual stimulation
What’s on your bucket list?
Travel to all 50 states, travel to as many countries as possible, sky dive, hot air balloon, go to the Super Bowl, go to the Grammys, go to the Oscars, get married and have mentally and physically healthy babies
What’s the most embarrassing moment you’ve had?
Wow that’s a tough one – I honestly don’t really care who does and doesn’t like me so it’s extremely difficult to feel embarassment
What was your First concert?
311, Cypress Hill and The Pharcyde – Madison, WI in 1997
What are your thoughts about Hereschicago.com?
It’s a great connecting point for so many personalities that make our scene special.
Jim Grillo is a bad man. Not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good . . . .