Ryan Campbell, Chicago Hospitality Professional of the Month (August 2019)August 7th, 2019 | hereschicago
Tell us your current position, company and describe what you do?
I work for AFR Furniture Rental as the Chicago and Milwaukee Account Executive. I work with venues, planners, designers, and companies to incorporate unique lounge furniture and strategic design into their meetings and events.
What aspects of hospitality do you incorporate in your business today?
First and foremost, the customer always comes first. It is extremely important for me to understand the client’s vision and purpose for their meeting or event to help the design come to life.
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?
My earliest memories of hospitality come from my parents – my dad was always hosting Church and Social groups at our house, especially surrounding the holidays. But the moment that I realized hospitality was what I wanted to do was from my first cruise – I’ve always wanted to be a Cruise Director, still do kind of! I took note of how the Cruise Director was a wealth of knowledge and their primary function of their role was to ensure that everyone was having a happy and healthy time during their vacation. I’ve incorporated a Cruise Director mentality into my daily business, that if I can’t help you with AFR’s inventory, it’s important for me to connect you with a trusted resource who can!
How many years have you been in the hospitality business?
Technically for over 20 years, but professionally speaking, post college, for 13.
What type of events you plan?
I’m a small part of planning a wide range of events including brand/product launches, annual conferences, music festivals, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, birthday parties, etc! There is a strategy and purpose behind the furniture incorporated to any type of meeting or event!
What qualities to you feel a person needs to have to be hospitality professional?
A servant’s heart and a team player. There isn’t one company that “does it all” we are all part of a team to help our client’s vision become a reality.
What do you love about planning events in Chicago?
See above – this industry is made up of consummate professionals that have a servant’s heart and are team players! Our number one goal is to make the client’s vision a reality.
What do you recommend for others who want to get into the hospitality profession?
Surround yourself with professionals and learn from your elders. I am constantly amazed at how many people are willing to go out of their way to help you, train you, develop you, connect you, etc. Find those people and rely upon them! An easy way to find these people is to get involved in one of the major associations.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My mom, and maybe Andy Cohen, but definitely my mom. She’s hardworking, honest, and selfless. I’m amazed at how much she gets done on so little sleep.
What kinds of things really make you laugh?
People falling – it is my favorite thing! To be fair, I fall more than the average person, I trip over my own feet weekly, and I always look back to see if there was a crack in the sidewalk – spoiler alert, there wasn’t.
What is your favorite movie of all time? Why so?
Beauty and the Beast, the first and only animated picture to be nominated for Best Picture category and hands down the best movie ever.
Have you received any praise or accolades recently?
The Chicago events community has been very kind and generous to me, I’ve been the lucky recipient of multiple NICE Awards for Best Team Events, Rising Star from ILEA Chicago and BizBash Hall of Fame. The awards are just a nice reminder that I’m doing exactly what I love and I owe all the praise to the people around me who have guided me through the years.
What type of music do you love?
90’s Pop, Broadway Showtunes, A Capella
What don’t people know about you?
People might not know that I ran the 2012 Chicago Marathon – I fell a lot during training that summer!
Or that I marched in marching band for 8 years through High School and College. My college marching band went on a 10 day trip to Ireland and Germany over Christmas/New Years and marched in the Macy’s Day Parade.
What is your favorite restaurant or bar (Personally)?
Bar = Marty’s Martini Bar in Andersonville, if you haven’t been – run, don’t walk, for their giant hand-crafted martinis. I highly recommend the Lemon Drop, but they have anything from a classic dirty to a grasshopper
Restaurant = Las Mananitas in Lakeview. I’m a regular there, they did the margaritas for my wedding. Some of the friendliest service in the city.
What are your hobbies?
I play volleyball, beach and indoor. A little bit of tennis and ping pong. Anything that you can keep score, I’m down to play!
What’s your favorite thing about your hometown?
I’m from Charlottesville, Virginia – I like that you can be in the ocean to the mountains to the Nation’s Capital in 3 hours each and so rich with history including home to so many past presidents and founding fathers. Central Virginia is a beautiful part of the country.
What’s on your bucket list?
Diving with Great White Sharks off the coast of South Africa
We would love to hear your thoughts about Hereschicago.com?
I love using Hereschicago.com as a resource for all things Chicago Hospitality. A big part of my role in the industry is connecting people with the right and RELIABLE vendors and Hereschicago.com makes that easy. If I can’t help them at AFR then I make sure they know who can – with confidence that they will be responsive, attentive, and reliable.
Thank you Ryan! Great interview. You can reach Ryan directly at:
Ryan C. Campbell
AFR Furniture Rental
2145 Internationale Parkway
Woodridge, IL 60517