Bringing Hospitality Experience to the Table – Part 2: Keelie Swafford



October 10, 2022

Working with industries like hospitality means having an understanding of the ever-changing landscape, craziness of the front desk, and that guest needs always come first. Having team members hailing from the hospitality industry like Keelie Swafford helps Kipsu better serve our partners across the world!

Minnesotan hospitality

Swafford got her start in the hotel industry during college, working the front desk at the Country Inn in Plymouth, Minnesota. After about a year, she moved to the Hilton Garden Inn in Maple Grove, Minnesota and still works there part-time to this day.

Her favorite part of the industry—and why she’s continued her job on top of being a full-time Kipsuvian—is meeting new people and spending time with her colleagues. 

“I love making people smile and being hospitable,” she said. Whether it’s little conversations at the front desk during check-in or meeting someone from across the world, there’s someone new every day. 

Swafford, who just celebrated her fifth anniversary at the HGI Maple Grove, enjoys making recommendations for local Minnesotan tourist spots, restaurants, and activities to guests who are visiting the area for the first time.

“I also love the sold out nights, like on the weekends when there are weddings and groups in house,” she said. “There’s nothing like that lobby buzz of chatter and laughter!”

From the front desk to Quality Assurance

Swafford used hospitality messaging through Kipsu to communicate with guests while on the night shift, checking them in and sending welcome messages. “I absolutely loved the tool and how much efficiency it brought to my team,” she said of the few months using it before graduating from college.

Leading up to graduation, she decided to attend the Minnesota Private Schools Job Fair to get practice looking for jobs and to meet recruiters. “I stayed for a few hours and felt so discouraged,” Swafford said, mentioning that nearly all the booths saw her hospitality experience and turned her away.

Deciding to turn down one last aisle of company booths before treating herself to lunch, she saw the Kipsu logo and bolted to the front of the line. Telling Carolyn Cooper, Product Marketing Manager, that she was a huge fan of the hotel text messaging system, she mentioned how much it had helped her team and then walked away—not expecting anything else other than niceties.

Cooper stopped her and asked for her resume, telling her about the Entrepreneurial Leadership Rotation Program (ELRP) program that integrates new graduates into the company by rotating them through teams to find what they like best.

“I literally drove straight home afterwards and applied,” Swafford said. “And the rest is history!” 

Keelie Swafford (far left), with Kipsu colleagues Kayci Pierce (top middle), Gretchen Nussbam (top right), Megan Gillett (bottom left), and Jamie Dreyling (bottom right).

Giving a shout out to Cooper, who sat with her to help prepare for the interview, she’s now been with Kipsu for three years: rotating through the Engineering, Customer Partnerships, and Customer Success teams before landing in Onboarding and later moving up to a full-time Quality Assurance Analyst.

Creating relationships with partners

Swafford believes her hospitality experience helped create a special bond with Kipsu customers while working in Customer Success.

“I have a passion for the industry and have personally felt how helpful Kipsu was for me to run a successful shift at the hotel, by multitasking and communicating with guests,” she said.

Knowing how stressful the front desk can be—especially when everything is happening at once like it always seems to—Swafford thinks hotel texting tools like Kipsu help in stressful and uncomfortable situations.

“I would always rely on my experiences while talking to our customers to show that I’ve been there and understand,” she said. “I try to show that if it’s used successfully, it will help tremendously!”

This experience has helped Swafford achieve a high graduation rate (when a hotel team is fully trained on the tool) in onboarding. She’s now moved over to a more technical side of quality assurance, helping the hotel messaging software run smoothly. 

Swafford is just one of many Kipsuvians with hospitality experience! Kipsu has a unique team full of people from all backgrounds, especially hospitality. Follow along on our blog for more resources on hospitality guest messaging and a series about our wonderful colleagues.

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