Matthew Temmer was crowned Mr. Hospitality 2017 on April 6th. As a junior at the University of Central Florida, he is currently pursuing a degree in Hospitality Management with a specialized track in Theme Park and Attraction Management. A great passion and joy in his life is the theme park industry and that can explain why Matthew is so involved not only with the Rosen College of Hospitality, but with his future career as well. He says that, “As a Floridian growing up with annual passes to both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, theme parks have always been an important part of my life…it wasn’t difficult for me to eventually realize that I wanted to create a lifetime career out of it.” Along with being a college student, Matthew currently works at SeaWorld Orlando and is an active member of the Future Theme Park Leaders Association. In addition, Matthew is involved with a student-run organization at Rosen related to the Walt Disney Company called the “Happiest Club on Earth” and is a member of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Temmer states, “I make sure that I constantly stay up-to-date on the latest theme park trends and news stories around the world, following many industry-related social media pages and websites.” All of this involvement and dedication may explain his recent crowning as Mr. Hospitality!
I was able to talk to Matthew and ask him some questions in order for our readers to get to know him better and for us to discover his journey to becoming Mr. Hospitality, as well as how he plans to take the title forward with him into the future.
Q: What inspired you to get involved with the Mr and Miss Hospitality pageant?
A: One of the philosophies that I try to follow each day is the phrase, “Why not?” To me, there was no reason I shouldn’t try out for the pageant since it would provide such a positive experience. I always had a strong passion for the Rosen College and its ideals, and I figured that this event would be the perfect way for me to share with everyone how much I love this college. I’m typically an introvert, but I always enjoy stepping outside my comfort zone and doing something surprising.
Q: Your talent portion of the pageant featured a parody version of the song “My Shot” from Hamilton with original lyrics themed to Disney’s Moana. Do you want to tell me where you came up with the idea for that?
A: I’ve created a few parody songs in the past for fun, but this song was the most ambitious one I’ve ever created. The Broadway musical Hamilton has become a cultural phenomenon and my favorite song in that musical is “My Shot” which perfectly combines Lin-Manuel Miranda’s incredible lyrics, rapping, and instrumentation. After watching Disney’s Moana, whose music was also written by Miranda, I started to realize how neat it would be to bring those two fantastic musicals together. I first decided to change the phrase “I am not throwing away my shot” to “I am not throwing away this heart.” Once I figured out that new version of the song’s opening line, I was quickly able to figure out the lyrics for the rest of the song. It was almost like a snowball effect.
Q: How did you feel when you heard the hosts announce that you were Mr. Hospitality and how do you think holding this title will shape you as an individual?
A: In all honesty, most of what happened after they called my name was a blur! The emotions that I felt were so overwhelming. I put a lot of my heart and soul into my performance at the pageant so the most prominent emotion I felt after my name was called was relief. It seemed like all of my hard work really paid off! Having the title of Mr. Hospitality will probably impact me more than I ever could imagine. It’s crazy to think that the only reason I applied for the pageant was to “give it a try.” While having this title will vastly improve my self-confidence, social skills, professionalism, and stage presence, the largest impact the title will have on me is the encouragement to always take opportunities when they appear, even if those opportunities force me to step outside my comfort zone.
Q: When did you know that hospitality was the route that you wanted to take? Was there a particular moment or memory that served as a sort of “aha” moment?
A: Ironically, for a long time when I was very little I actually wanted to be a fireman! Obviously that didn’t end up panning out so after that period of time I shifted my interest to hospitality and tourism. I became interested in pursuing the hospitality industry through my love of Disney. My family had all been annual passholders to Walt Disney World when I was younger. However, after the economy took a downturn in 2008 and my mom lost her job, my parents had to make many difficult financial decisions, including not renewing our annual passes, much to the disappointment of my brother and me. During this time, I told my dad that I was determined to visit Disney World once again. This led to an “aha” moment for me… if I could work at Disney, I would never have to leave the parks ever again. Through doing some research, my dad and I discovered the Rosen College of Hospitality Management in 2010. I realized that it was a college at UCF that offered an educational program specifically for theme parks. From that point on, my love of Walt Disney World evolved into a broader passion and appreciation for the entire theme park industry.
Q: How do you think being a part of the Rosen College of Hospitality has affected your college experience?
A: I don’t think words could explain the extent of my gratitude towards the Rosen College for giving me the most amazing college experience I ever could have had. I didn’t have the most pleasant experience in high school and I didn’t make a lot of friends, but the Rosen College taught me that I can not only create friendships, but that these friends would become a part of my extended family. Back in my high school, I usually stood out from the crowd for my love (some might call obsession) towards Disney and theme parks, but at Rosen, it’s considered strange if you DON’T like Disney! Not only did Rosen provide me with many friends, but it also gave me countless professional resources to help boost my confidence as an employee and as an overall person. My family members have noticed that I am slowly becoming a more mature, more confident, and more ambitious person. In general, UCF’s Rosen College completely changed the mindset I had about what it means to be a college student.
Q: What is your favorite memory from the Rosen College of Hospitality?
A: I would say that this pageant experience was one of my favorite memories during my time here at Rosen. However, my all-time favorite memory from Rosen was when I first visited the college in January of 2012 during my freshman year of high school. I had been researching about this school and the field of hospitality for a long time, so being able to finally visit the
campus brought me so much joy and excitement. I knew that the Rosen College would be the pathway to my future career with theme parks, so it was clear that UCF was the perfect school for me. After visiting Rosen and talking to a representative about the school’s academic programs, I knew that all of my dreams for my future career were finally falling into place. There still has never been another moment like that day when I felt so much hope and anticipation. As they say at Disney’s Carousel of Progress, I felt like there really was a “great, big, beautiful tomorrow.”
Q: If you could work anywhere once you graduate, where would it be?
A: Ever since I knew I wanted to enroll in the Rosen College and pursue hospitality management, my ultimate goal was to work for the Walt Disney World Resort. I’m currently gaining valuable skills and experience with SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment and my hope is that I can one day join the Disney World family once I graduate. Since I enjoy thinking about all my future career possibilities, I may even transfer to Disneyland Resort in California or one of the many Disney theme park destinations around the world. To be honest, it seems like the possibilities are endless.
Q: Besides being hospitable, what other words do you think would best describe you and your personality?
A: In addition to being hospitable and what I like to think of as kind to others, I would also describe myself as hard-working, passionate and enthusiastic. I am in love with this industry so nothing makes me happier than to be in a theme park, whether it’s enjoying the experience as a guest or helping create lifelong memories as an employee. For example, I can be pretty enthusiastic about the most random things that I observe at a park. If I discover a neat element inside the queue for an attraction, I’ll probably take notice it and tell my friends about it or if an employee creates a memorable moment for my friends and me, I’l probably be talking about it for the rest of the night.
Q: If you could give a piece of advice for those that want to go into the hospitality industry, what would it be?
A: The hospitality industry is surprisingly diverse in regards to the career opportunities available. Some students might prefer pursuing hotels and others may pursue restaurants or events. My main piece of advice to those that want to go into this industry is to find the specific segment of the industry that you enjoy and do it as soon as you can. I would suggest taking a variety of hospitality-related classes at school to help guide you in the right direction. Once you find your specific passion, the rest of your job experience will be a “piece of cake” and you’ll be able to find enjoyment in the smallest things. I’ve found that it’s difficult for me to be bored while working, even on slow days and from both personal experience and observation at work, it’s clear that passionate employees are a rare asset to a company. If you can create genuine passion for the work you do, you’ll stand out and excel beyond your employees and your supervisors will definitely take notice!
Thank you Matthew for taking the time out to answer questions and let us get to know you a little better. Here’s to hoping that the hospitality industry welcomes you with open arms once you’ve graduated from the University of Central Florida!