Life at Sonder: bringing hospitality everywhere

Gabriel Mudd works as a Hospitality Agent on the City Operations team at Sonder and is based in Chicago, Illinois. He’s been with the company for three years in a variety of roles. In this edition of “Life at Sonder,” Gabriel shares how thinking outside the box of mainstream operations enhances the guest experience, and also speaks to why trend forecasting is key. 

How my journey began at Sonder: 

I was on lunch break at my previous job and overheard a hiring manager on a Sonder phone interview. Call it what you will, I was eavesdropping—and I loved what I heard. I thought the business concept and the role the interviewer described was a job that I would enjoy. I waited for their conversation to end and we got to chatting. From there, I was connected to the team in Chicago and immediately knew that I wanted to be part of this company. 

Describe your typical day working at Sonder (pre-Covid): 

There’s no such thing, since the needs of our guests differ from day-to-day. That’s what I enjoy most about my role—coming in to work and working on a variety of different projects with our team.

We leverage many tools to stay organized, some of which we built in-house, to enable our teams to more efficiently and effectively service our spaces and provide an elevated experience for our guests. My daily flow looks a bit like this:

First, I prioritize tasks that are guest-focused. I want to make sure I know everything about the specific Sonder unit I’m attending. I then try to learn a bit more about the guest in order to help anticipate their needs in advance. Things like: have they stayed with us before, are they traveling with family? We have a lot of flexibility in what we can do for the guest and are really empowered to make their stay as good as possible, which is different than many other hospitality companies. 

I recently stepped down as a Team Lead so that I could pursue some of my own artistic and creative goals, and now I work as a Hospitality Agent (HA). HAs do everything from daily quality assurance to helping our housekeeping partners, organizing warehouse space, managing inventory counts, preparing linens, communicating with building managers, and other light maintenance. 

What is city operations in Chicago like? 

Life on a city team is generally busy. And sometimes, “busy” is an understatement. Much of our role is doing as much as we can on our own, and then discerning when we need help from the larger city team or Sonder’s headquarters. We see ourselves as the backbone, the face, and the front line of our guests’ experience—everything we do is designed to ensure guests have a seamless and incredible Sonder experience. 

How has your role as an HA changed during the pandemic?

Sonder already had high standards for cleanliness before the pandemic, with professional housekeeping before every stay. But earlier this year, Sonder integrated Covid-19 specific recommendations from the WHO, CDC and Canadian Public Health Agency guidelines. Every single housekeeper has undergone extensive training to ensure they employ Sonder’s high standards each and every time. We take extra measures to implement best practices for cleaning and sterilization across our units.

Beyond our enhanced cleaning procedures, Sonder properties are unique in that they already have limited face-to-face interactions for guests. They have self-contained spaces that are serviced digitally, including check-ins/outs through your phone, and many units have washer/dryers and full kitchens. This makes Sonder a great option for those who want to minimize contact and practice social distancing. And we are continuing to build our self-serve options to further our contactless experience for guests.

I have recently returned from furlough, so I am still getting back into the swing of things. It’s good to be back!

We see ourselves as the backbone, the face, and the front line of our guests’ experience—everything we do is designed to ensure guests have a seamless and incredible Sonder experience. 

Define a great guest experience: 

Walking into a clean space that looks better than the pictures—something with a unique touch, like a beautiful view, a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture, and/or some unique art. It should be a memorable experience and feel like home – a home you’d like to live in.

How do you manage to do it all?

Of all the Sonder’s core principles, “Hospitality Everywhere” is the one I embody most. To me, it’s kind of like the proverb “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s the foundation to all other company principles — like: “Act Like an Owner” by paying attention to details and doing things to make work more efficient, and “Deliver Results” by providing a stand-out experience. 

What is some advice you’d like to give to others who are interested in your role? 

Hospitality is a learn-as-you-go career.  It’s incredibly fast paced and trends in hospitality from 5-7 years ago may not apply today. Different cultures have different ideas of what hospitality is, so it’s imperative to familiarize yourself with trends and expectations so that we can serve our guests as best as possible. While having a degree and specific training in hospitality can certainly help, I did not come with a background in the industry. Not having certifications or a specific degree in a service field has not been a detriment for me to learn, grow, or to be promoted. As long as you are observant, are interested in learning, and are a hard-worker, there is plenty of room to grow. 

What keeps you inspired? 

I’ve had the unique experience of being able to make connections all over the country (and a few abroad) with other Sonder employees (especially on the Guest Experience Team!). It’s really awesome to see that there is a similar culture cultivated companywide. I’m excited to see how Sonder is going to continue to be a leader in the hospitality industry, especially highlighting diversity issues – elevating people of color through training and initiatives to have a permanent place in the hospitality industry, beyond entry level positions; and ensuring the safety and inclusion of Black, Indigenous and employees of color while working. 

Rapid-fire questions

Aisle or window?

Window. I like watching takeoff and landing.

Leisure or adventure travel?

70% adventure and 30% leisure.

Eat in or dine out?

It depends on the meal. I love an amazing home cooked meal but I also love new food experiences that I wouldn’t normally try to replicate at home.

Favorite travel companion?

My husband Geoff or my best friend Ian. I generally have amazing and unpredictable experiences with either or both of them.

What’s the last trip you took?

I went to NYC to audition for TV and Broadways roles in March, right before the shut down, and worked with the Onboarding Team in the city.  

What’s the next Sonder you want to stay in?

This one!

Number one indulgence while traveling?

 I love finding the best local dessert/pastry and eating way too much of them.

Interested in learning more about our teams and opportunities? Check out our careers page.

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