Bojan Ilić (Bo-hahn Eeleech) has built a life and found a wife thanks to tourism. Born and raised in Serbia, he traveled the world before eventually settling in Tampa Bay, where he works as a concierge at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Tell me about your job.
My job is to assist Hard Rock Hotel & Casino guests with any special requests they might have, including travel arrangements, dinner and spa reservations, as well as to provide information about local features such as shopping, nightlife, recreational destinations, etc.
What do you like about your job?
I love having a chance to meet different people every day. Our guests come from all around the world and they all bring a story.
What’s something people don’t know about your job?
Most people think that we are here to provide information only about the Hard Rock Hotel and its amenities. But in reality, we are here for so much more. We enjoy helping guests get to know Tampa Bay better, its historic architecture, diverse culture, famous restaurants, beautiful waterways, amazing beaches, and a lot more. We truly enjoy creating a memorable experience for every Tampa Bay visitor.
What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you on the job?
Back in 2015, I was bartending on board Princess Cruises. During one of the 7 days cruises in Alaska, I had an amazing group of people coming to my bar every day before dinner. We were fast friends for a week but lost touch afterward. Months later, I finished my contract on the cruise ship, went back home to Serbia, enrolled and afterward graduated from Florida International University in Miami, moved to Tampa and started working at the Hard Rock Hotel. 3 years after that Alaskan cruise, I met those guests when they came to check in the hotel, they recognized me and even showed me a picture of us from 2015!
If you ask me, I will tell you that the world is very small!
How did you get into tourism as a career?
Starting a career in tourism for me was totally unplanned. After graduating with the Bachelor’s degree in economics and Master’s in marketing. Due to a bad economic situation, I was not able to find a job in Serbia. So I decided to try my luck on the cruise ships. Being able to travel the world, meet and work with thousands of people from all around the globe was a life changer and one of the best things that had ever happened to me.
How would your life be different without tourism?
I cannot imagine my life without the influence of tourism. On cruise ships I traveled to more than 60 countries around the world. In pursuit of a Master’s Degree in Hospitality and Tourism, I moved to Florida. Finally, it was through tourism that I met my wife!
How did that happen?
My wife Karina is a managing attorney at Vanguard Attorneys in Ybor City. We met at her brother’s wedding in Fort Lauderdale where I was working as a bartender.
Who’s your hero and why?
My heroes are my parents who taught me to be honest, always do the right thing and help people whenever I can.
What do you do for fun or hobby?
My hobbies are kickboxing, reading, playing basketball and cycling.
What do you recommend your visitors do for fun when they come to Tampa Bay?
I always recommend cycling along the Tampa Riverwalk because it’s what I love to do on the weekends. Guests can also engage in water activities, such as Water Taxi, paddle boarding, and kayaking. If they are hungry, there are plenty of options at Armature Works. If there is enough time and energy, I recommending watching the sunset at the great waterfront bar, American Social.