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Male Ally of the Month: Mr. September– Mike Dominguez, President & CEO at ALHI

New this year, “Male Ally of the Month,” a column that focuses on the men going out of their way to support women in the hospitality industry. While we all know they don’t have to help, these guys want to help, and this new column will take the time to find out how and why they are determined to help us reach gender equality.


Mike Dominguez ALHI

Hola! It's Hispanic Heritage Month. Did you know that as of 2021, there are 62.5 million Hispanic-Latinos in the U.S., up from 50.5 million in 2010 (Pew Research)? And, Hispanics have a buying power of $2.1 trillion, contributing 11.3% of all spending (Latino Hotel and Entrepreneurship Investment Report 2023). Yet, Hispanics face challenges in hospitality. While a significant proportion of hospitality roles are held by Hispanics, they are underrepresented in managerial positions by 22%, making up only 14% of leadership (LHEI Report 2023). To get an insider’s take, we spoke with ally-extraordinaire, Mike Dominguez, President & CEO of Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI). We chat with Mike to learn about his career journey and why he's so passionate about helping underrepresented groups, particularly women, and inspiring the next generation of Hispanic leaders in hospitality.


Hi Mike! Before we get into it, let’s just start with the fact that your entire executive team at ALHI is female. What is it like being the token male?


I had great training as my household was three women and two men. In all seriousness, I didn’t even realize I had an all-female Exec team until one of my team members pointed it out to me.


Take us back to the beginning of your career for a sec, what was your first job and how did you get into hospitality?


Purely out of necessity. We grew up with very modest means and the need to work parttime was just a part of our mindset. I began by bussing tables on the Riverwalk in San Antonio for Hyatt Hotels. I worked every weekend and would take extra shifts in banquets and Room Service during high demand periods. Mom had one steadfast rule, I would quit working if my schoolwork ever suffered – thus weekends only.

You then transitioned from F&B, and worked your way up in sales, which is an area of the hotel business that skews female, especially in leadership. Clearly you love working with women! Why?


Food & Beverage was such an amazing starting ground in my life and those experiences set up the rest of my career. I had some amazing mentors who took an interest in growing me and helping guide my career. I think it was critical as it was absolutely what you would call tough love. The ability for these individuals to share with me openly and unfiltered the good and the bad was critical and something that I think today not everyone wants or is prepared to hear. Growing up with a strong Hispanic mother that loves me unconditionally but absolutely would hold me accountable I think allowed me to be prepared and more importantly understand that feedback is a gift.

Growing up with a strong Hispanic mother that loves me unconditionally but absolutely would hold me accountable I think allowed me to be prepared and more importantly understand that feedback is a gift.

According to the inaugural Latino Hotel and Entrepreneurship Investment (LHEI) Report released by the Latino Hotel Association earlier this year, Hispanics make up a larger proportion of desk clerks (+33%), porter/concierge positions (+15%), and close to a third to nearly half of janitorial and housekeeping occupations in the hospitality industry. However, they under index by 22% in managerial roles, which account for only 14% of all positions. So, while you were working your way up, you didn’t see many leaders that looked like you. Did being Hispanic mean, you had more challenges to overcome in the workplace and how did you do it?


Not at all. San Antonio, Texas has and is such a melting pot of backgrounds and cultures (probably due to being a military town) that there was a large Hispanic population and had many leaders that I could emulate. Being Hispanic was not, nor has it been ever a challenge for me in the workplace. I again attribute this to my mother that emphasize and ensured that education was paramount in our household as well as learning the English language. She never allowed us to ever believe there was anything that would hold us back.


Now as a Hispanic leader you are inspiring the next generation, what does that feel like?


I have seen how important in can be for other Hispanics to see Hispanic leaders in Executive positions. This became apparent to me about 15 years ago as I would be talking to team members and would here this commentary. It candidly never occurred to me until it was brought to my attention that my leader roles were inspirational to other aspiring Hispanics. Once this was realized, it then became a sense of responsibility.


What advice would you give your younger self, if you could turn back the clock?


What you think is so important and stressful will really mean so little in the future when you reflect on those times. To the point that it will be comical to you on how much a situation stressed you out. The road is long with many twists and turns so enjoy the ride and navigate the road the best that you can. Remember to glance in the rear-view mirror, but stare into the windshield as what is in front of you is the most important view.


What about your thoughts for women in hospitality, how do you think they can best advocate for themselves?


It is so important for women to continue to be vocal with their perspective and take the opportunities to grow, understand and display emotional maturity as often as possible. This means being able to articulate a business case for any point of view with the intention and perspective of knowing you point of view has been heard, but without the intention that the point of view was right…or the only point of view available. It’s not about winning or necessarily getting your way with a stakeholder, but rather to be a trusted advisor. Trusted in the fact that you are comfortable in always communicating your point of view without filters.


What tips would you offer for men that want to be better allies at work?


Some men tend to want to fix more than listen. I think to be a better ally it is important to ask good questions listen for what is truly being said and guide with more questions or things that should be considered.


Some men tend to want to fix more than listen. I think to be a better ally it is important to ask good questions listen for what is truly being said and guide with more questions or things that should be considered.

Thank you, Mike!


Quickfire with Mike


What is your morning routine?

My comfort moment each morning is making my own cup of coffee at home, Squawk Box on the way work. The drive to and from work for me gets me mentally in the work mode or out of work mode, so I tend to enjoy that routine.


What do you do to relax?

I love to read and watch great TV.


You’re on the road a lot for ALHI, any airport hack to share?

Checking for upgrades at the gate can be affordable and most importantly – being nice to everyone will always have its perks.

What is your go-to room service order?

Nothing better than a great hotel burger when traveling on a long trip…and my Diet Coke!

Favorite place to visit for work?

It must be Las Vegas as it was home for 7 years and I still feel like a bit of a local when I visit.

Favorite vacation destination?

Maui without hesitation. The fires of Lahaina were so devastating to an area that we love and have visited and have decades of memories. Hawaii and it’s Ohana spirit is just special and the people of a beauty and pride that is just inspiring.

Any books / TV shows / podcasts you are into right now?

I would recommend a few books as I love to read: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy, The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom, and Unreasonable Hospitality by Will Guidara. As to TV Shows there are so many, but I enjoyed every minute of Ted Lasso and The Bear on Hulu (specifically Season 2), which has some of the best leadership lessons. Showing you what you will see as a leader if looked through the lens of what people can do if you believe in them.

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