Originally appeared in Hotel News Now in May, 2018
Guest complaints are inevitable. And while experts agree complaints don’t turn into problems unless they aren’t resolved, the path to recovery starts with management’s ability to empower employees.
“Engagement hinges on first setting the expectation that every member of the team is capable and has the ability to serve our guests,” said Chris Manley, COO for Stonebridge Companies. “Our duty is to instill a sense of ownership by the teams in their critical role in guest satisfaction.”
That’s why the company includes empowerment as one of the four pillars of its mission statement. Every team member is permitted to resolve guest complaints regardless of where the issue occurred during the stay, Manley said.
“This shows we appreciate all feedback and that each and every member of the team is adept at addressing (guest) concerns and resolving the problem in the moment,” he said.
Teri Xavier, VP of people and culture at Kokua Hospitality, said giving employees the ability to remedy a complaint is critical to guest satisfaction.
“Most travelers today when they go to the front desk, they are probably expecting to have to tell their story more than once. That can be frustrating for a traveler,” she said.
By allowing front-line employees to resolve guest complaints without calling in management, issues can be solved faster, she said. The quicker a guest is made happy, the better for the overall service recovery.
“It not only lends credibility to the position as a guest service agent; in the end, it alleviates some stress or concerns from the guest,” Xavier said.
Garry Cox, Area GM of The Axiom Hotel, Napa Winery Inn, and Carmel Mission Inn, said there are two types of guests: walkers and talkers.
“The majority of people out there are walkers and don’t want to make a big deal and complain. They are the most hurtful to business because they won’t say anything to us, but they will tell their friends when they get home,” he said.
The “talkers” might be unpleasant to deal with, but Cox said they are the most beneficial to business because they give hoteliers an opportunity to fix any issues. But, those talkers could become walkers if employees aren’t allowed to handle their concerns, he said.
“They might complain to the desk clerk and if the clerk says, ‘Let me go get my manager,’ then they might say, ‘Don’t bother,’” Cox said.
Proper training is the first line of defense and the tool that can build employees’ confidence—especially when every situation will differ, sources said.
First, Cox said it’s important to drive home to employees the idea that guest complaints aren’t personal, which can be difficult to remember when faced with an irate guest. Role-playing scenarios can help employees build confidence when they then face those real-life situations, he said.
“We teach them how to receive guest complaints, and we teach them how to listen,” Cox said. “Listening can be hard to do when someone is telling you something negative; it’s human nature to interrupt. Most times when guests are upset, if you just listen, they will talk themselves off a ledge.”
Xavier agreed that listening is key to successfully handling a guest complaint. At Kokua, employees are trained to give guests time to talk uninterrupted until they feel the guest is ready to be asked questions or to clarify.
“The second part of that is that clarification. When a guest is complaining about something, you need to fully understand it,” she said.
Beyond that, employees are trained to remain empathetic and apologize, she added. It might not be the employee’s fault the internet doesn’t work, but he or she is the one hearing the complaint—and that’s all the guest cares about.
“And sometimes the answer is obvious as to how it can be corrected. If the internet was spotty, simply take the charge off the bill,” she said.
Then, employees are trained to thank the guest for bringing the issue to their attention and let the guest know how they will follow up internally so that it doesn’t happen again.
Going above and beyond—a little too much?
Training employees to handle complaints that are easily remedied is one thing. Empowering employees to handle the really tough situations is another challenge. And what should management do if employees go a little too above and beyond?
Manley said Stonebridge doesn’t have standard operating procedures for service recovery because it must always be tailored to the guest and the situation. That means sometimes employees might offer high-value solutions to guest complaints.
“Strong leaders develop a culture of hospitality within our properties. They must instill the confidence in each team member’s ability to solve complex problems in creative ways,” he said. “We would never chastise anyone who goes above and beyond to do so, but thank them for exceeding our guest’s expectations.”
In the event that a situation could have been handled in another way, management would have a respectful conversation with the employee and discuss suggestions to resolve the same type of issue in the future.
Cox agreed that ongoing support is crucial to employee empowerment—and ultimately guest satisfaction.
“We empower all team members to do what they need to do. When an employee does something they felt was right, I never tell them it was the wrong thing to do. I wasn’t there to deal with it, so I need to support them,” he said.
For example, if an employee offers two complimentary nights as a remedy for a situation that perhaps called for a free breakfast, sources said management can’t just take it back. Guests don’t care about an operator’s standard operating procedure for service recovery; they only care about the solution to their problem. If management doesn’t honor the employee’s solution, that guest will become an enemy.
“Even if they are a guest once a year, look at what you lost,” Cox said. “You always have to make it right with the guest so that they feel valued.”
On the other hand, Xavier said management can’t take back employees’ empowerment either. It’s just as detrimental to break an employee’s trust as it is to break a guest’s trust.
“The employee was in the situation and did the best they could given the circumstances. Maybe they were on the late night or graveyard shift and no manager was around,” she said. “Support the employee. Talk about what went right, what went wrong and how to help alleviate the situation the next time around.”
By: Alicia Hoisington
Originally appeared in Hotel Management in April, 2018
There’s no denying it—holidays are important in the hospitality industry. It has become industry standard to celebrate the major holidays by helping to spread some cheer for guests who can’t be at home. But what about the hundreds of holidays every year that are hardly recognized? Now, that’s a gold mine of opportunity for keeping our guests and team members engaged year round.
For our hotel—the Hilton Garden Inn Cherry Creek in Denver—we started a tradition of celebrating the nontraditional holidays after seeing the effects of the post-holiday blues written on the faces of guests and team members. It’s predictable. We can see it every January as we watch guests come in and out of the hotel.
The first “holiday” we found worthy of celebration was National Rubber Ducky Day. For a full week in January, we set up a series of events for our guests. We ordered hundreds of rubber ducks. Some were dressed in costume, some of them were different colors. We loved the assortment.
Next, we put messages on the bottom of the ducks—a free appetizer at the bar, a bottle of wine sent to the room, free Hilton Honors points—and we place the ducks around the hotel in hiding spots. This can be anything from a duck “exercising” on a treadmill to a duck wearing a robe while lounging in the spa room. Guests are encouraged to find the ducks throughout the week in order to claim their free gifts.
It’s a win-win for all involved. Our team members enjoy scouting the hiding spots and coming up with creative ways of displaying the ducks, while the guests enjoy finding them and receiving prizes. We even include baskets decked out with rubber ducks to our most loyal guests.
On Jan. 13, the actual National Rubber Ducky Day, we have a “Floating of the Ducks,” during which we invite guests to the pool area to watch as we “release” the hundreds of ducks into the pool, where they remain for the rest of the week. We’ve found that the kids really enjoy playing with the ducks… and it brings a smile to our faces, too.
At first, the team was skeptical that the guests would engage. In fact, it has been such a hit that we’ve seen improvement in our guest survey scores around the dates of these “wacky” holidays that we celebrate. After beginning our Rubber Ducky Day celebration in 2015, we saw our overall service scores increase by more than 17 percent the following month.
What spawned from this celebration has been a series of fun events arranged by our hotel in order to keep our guests smiling and coming back. We’ve since expanded the “wacky” holidays that we celebrate.
For example, we celebrate National Gumdrop Day in February, which focuses on engaging with our team members. We came up with this event idea after celebrating a similar event around Christmas, during which we have each of the departments at the hotel (i.e., sales, housekeeping, management) make gingerbread houses, and the most creative wins a prize.
With this in mind, on National Gumdrop Day we buy hundreds of gumdrops and host a competition among the teams at our hotel. We tell them to come up with the most creative design they can think of, made entirely out of gumdrops. Once the teams are finished, we put their designs out in the lobby and ask our guests to vote for the one they find the most creative. It always gets a laugh.
Another popular holiday we’ve initiated is National Doughnut Day in June. We celebrate with a wall of doughnuts… literally. We use glazed and chocolate doughnuts, and put them on a wall. Nearby, we display a table of condiments to encourage guests to decorate their own doughnut. We put out everything we can think of—cereal toppings, sprinkles, gummy worms—you name it.
Every year, we continue to add to the roster of holidays we celebrate. Whether tied to local happenings, like “Orange Crush” day for the Denver Broncos, where we give each guest a plastic football and a can of Orange Crush soda; “Monkey Around” Day, when our housekeeping team members make monkey figures out of towels and place them around guestrooms; or a more serious community engagement like our Wounded Warrior Project bake sale, we are constantly brainstorming unique ways to involve our guests.
Stonebridge Companies, the developer, owner and operator of our hotel, chooses a charity every year for the company to support. Last year, it was Wounded Warrior Project that spawned the aforementioned bake sale. For 2018, the property leaders chose the American Cancer Society. We seek to balance the fun and lighthearted celebrations with efforts that also focus on giving back and engaging the community.
At the end of the day, if we can get a smile—from guest or team member—then I feel confident we are sustaining the distinguished hospitality that each of the Stonebridge hotels strives to provide for guests and team members.
We have fun brainstorming the events, and our guests have fun as they participate. Who knows what we will think of next? The wackier the better, our mantra stands.
Eric Hautzenrader, is a GM at ownership, management and hospitality company Stonebridge Companies. Hautzenrader is in charge of the Hilton Garden Inn Cherry Creek in Denver.
By: Eric Hautzenrader, General Manager, Hilton Garden Inn Denver Cherry Creek, Stonebridge Companies
Originally appeared in Lodging Magazine in March, 2018
In today’s business environment, there’s no denying the power of social media. More than 2 billion people are active on social media and the number increases daily. Hoteliers should no longer view a social media presence as optional, but rather focus on utilizing the various platforms to enhance the experience for guests and value for hotels.
When establishing a social media plan, it is important to adhere to both the guidelines of the hotel brands with which one works and also incorporate one’s own brand and ideas. Most hotels are dependent on word of mouth and positive reviews from loyal guests, which is what makes social media a natural marketing and branding tool.
Below are four lessons to consider when navigating social media in order to market individual hotels as well as a hospitality company.
When a hospitality firm’s properties fall under different brands, the company is expected to adhere to each specific brand’s social media requirements. Some brands prefer Twitter and ask to post five times weekly, while others leave the decision about frequency and usage to the owner.
At all times, hoteliers are expected to respond and serve as communicators for the brands, which means attending to every review that comes in, taking on the responsibility of directing guests to correct sources, and serving past and potential customers.
It is essential in hospitality to respond to messages within a certain time frame–usually, within the first few hours. Communication in this format should be viewed in the same way one would treat a guest standing at the front desk.
TripAdvisor should be included in any hospitality social media plan. As hoteliers know, it is a huge source of information to potential guests. TripAdvisor ranks hotels based on three factors: recently posted reviews, quantity of reviews, and quality of reviews. Trends report that people are more apt to post about a negative experience than a positive one. However, hotels can implement systems to help improve the frequency of guest feedback. For example, staff can hand out Google and TripAdvisor review cards to guests to increase the likelihood of on-the-spot posts.
Overall, it is essential that all general managers are aware of any and all reviews–especially the less favorable ones. This can be one of the most useful tools for improving service.
Campaigns can be an effective tool for encouraging Facebook “likes” on a page. Simply running a month-long competition offering a chance for bonus hotel points can greatly enhance the page’s social media presence. Points are coveted by guests and are an inexpensive incentive for hotels to purchase.
Holidays provide another opportunity to launch a social media campaign. Many hotel restaurants already plan Thanksgiving buffets. Why not promote the event on social media? Hotels may be surprised by the interest from those seeking to spend the holiday out of their homes. This is an opportunity to reach an audience beyond guests already familiar with the hotel.
To have the biggest impact, it is important to budget for advertising boosts to the campaign posts. This will significantly extend the reach of the posts, and ad dollars stretch far on social media.
People don’t necessarily care about the hotel they’re staying at, especially if it mimics others within the same brand. However, they do care about what they can do during their stay and around the hotel.
Posting videos is an easy way to engage audiences with the hotel. Content about events hosted on the property help to personalize the property. Posting about employees also helps to humanize a hotel and its culture.
Share information on things to do in the area and connect with local businesses that could advise guests on the hotel’s accommodation offerings. Is there a local landmark, attraction, or tourist hotspot near the hotel? Follow these pages and promote their services to followers. People will repay the favor.
By: Jordan Jones, Social Media Manager, Stonebridge Companies
Experience Hilton Garden Inn Long Island City Queensboro Bridge, located just east of Manhattan over the Queensboro Bridge. Situated just off Route 25, this LIC hotel is near extensive shopping and dining options as well as familiar Queens attractions, including Citi Field, Flushing Meadows, and Gantry Plaza State Park. While Queens, NY is a destination in itself, NY Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan is a direct 12 minute train ride from the Queens Plaza Train Station (4 blocks away).
Hilton Garden Inn Long Island City Queensboro Bridge
29-21 41st Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101
Hotel Phone: 718-786-6001
Hotel Fax: 718-786-6003
Originally appeared in Hotel Executive in March, 2018
Anne Frye, regional director of sales and marketing at Denver-based hotel owner, operator and developer Stonebridge Companies, has been selected to join the board of directors of the Cherry Creek Chamber of Commerce, which works to connect local business leaders and provide service to the local community. Frye joins a Board comprised of a diverse group of local experts that represent both small and larger businesses in the community.
“It is a great honor to be accepted to the Cherry Creek Chamber Board of Directors,” said Anne Frye, regional director of sales and marketing at Stonebridge Companies. “The Cherry Creek Chamber has established itself as a unique and proactive connector for Denver leaders, and I am thrilled for the opportunity to work alongside these experts to further worthwhile initiatives in our business community.”
In her role at the corporate office of Stonebridge Companies, Frye oversees the sales and marketing efforts of twelve hotels across Colorado and in New York City. Four of the properties she is responsible for are members of the Cherry Creek Chamber including the Residence Inn Cherry Creek; Hilton Garden Inn Cherry Creek; Courtyard by Marriott Cherry Creek; and The Jacquard Hotel & Rooftop, planned to open in the summer.
“We are pleased to welcome Anne to the Cherry Creek Chamber Board, embracing her expertise to help guide the chamber’s upcoming endeavors,” said Christine Des Enfants, executive director of the Cherry Creek Chamber of Commerce. “With more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality field, Anne will contribute a unique and valuable perspective.”
Along with her role as a member of the Cherry Creek Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors, Frye is also actively involved with the University of Virginia’s Club of Colorado.
About Stonebridge Companies
Founded in 1991 by Navin C. Dimond, Stonebridge Companies is a privately owned, innovative hotel owner, operator and developer headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Its diverse portfolio of over 50 hotels includes select-service, extended-stay, mid-scale and full-service hotels in markets throughout the U.S. For detailed information, visit www.sbcos.com .
Located in Downtown Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, SLU is the city’s most modern destination for dining, entertainment and progressive commerce. The area features the West Coast’s largest flotilla of yummy food trucks. The bright and open lobby layout is paired with contemporary furniture. The ”Plug and Meet’ gathering areas provide modern ergonomic seating, large writing walls and 56 inch televisions for presentation projection. The lobby also boasts a state-of-the art video wall and 24/7 Food & Beverage offering a wide selection of snacks and drinks. Other hotel amenities include healthy continental breakfast, an evening bar featuring wines by the glass and local brews. All bedrooms are equipped with 42 inch flat screen televisions, build in USB ports and free Wifi. Our neighbors include movers and shakers such as Amazon.com, Tommy Bahama, The Cancer Care Alliance, Washington’s History & Industry Museum, Center for Wooden Boats and of course, the Community Banana Stand.
Moxy by Marriott Seattle Downtown
1016 Republican Street
Seattle, WA 98109
Hotel Phone: 206-708-8200
Set a pace that suits you at Residence Inn Boulder Canyon Boulevard. Located in central Boulder, our brand new, all-suite hotel offers easy access to CU Boulder, Pearl Street Mall and downtown Boulder, hiking and biking trails, Folsom Field, and hundreds of restaurants, breweries, and boutique shops. Whether you are with us for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, you will surely enjoy all the conveniences our hotel offers, including daily hot breakfast, a large and modern fitness center, indoor pool and large hot tub, complimentary WiFi, and complimentary local food, beer, and wine Mon-Wed nights. Our spacious studio and one bedroom suites include separate living and sleeping areas and a fully equipped kitchen ready for your favorite cuisine with complimentary grocery delivery service to fill your refrigerator and satisfy cravings. Relax and unwind on your schedule and stay focused and productive when it is essential. At Residence Inn Boulder Canyon Boulevard, we will make sure you thrive during your stay.
Residence Inn by Marriott Boulder Canyon Boulevard
2550 Canyon Boulevard
Hotel Phone: 303-577-7300
Hotel Fax: 303-577-7301
Originally appeared in Hotel Business Magazine in March, 2018
Preparing for a successful career in hospitality takes education, but also hands-on work experience in order to secure a role in this fast-growing industry.
Within the leisure and hospitality sectors, employment continued to trend higher in January, up 31,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2017, the industry added an average 22,000 jobs per month, for a total job gain of 263,000.
Carefully designed, internships can be beneficial to employers and students alike—but where to begin?
With more than 25 years in business, 2,200 associates and more than 50 hotel properties, Stonebridge Companies has implemented numerous student programs over the past few years. That experience has come with a few lessons learned and tips for how to make an internship valuable for everyone involved.
“As the son of immigrant parents, I grew up with little, and therefore, I always held the steadfast belief that Stonebridge would only grow as a company so long as we recruited a team of associates both dedicated to being respectful of their workplace and also committed to giving back to those in their community, which includes students,” said Stonebridge Companies President & CEO Navin Dimond. “As our company has grown, so has our ability to implement programs with schools around the country in order to give back to students who are eager to learn about the hospitality business.”
Dimond further explained that internships are critical because they give real, hands-on experience to students who are exploring their options and future career choices.
“For Stonebridge, it’s not about simply creating an internship or program—it is about thinking through every aspect of the people and the places that program will affect. It is always critical that we start with long-term, clearly defined objectives in order to create a long-lasting, synergistic relationship with the schools and within our own company,” said Dimond. “I’m proud to bear witness to the impact on the scholars and the continuous evolution of our programs over time. We have experienced learning curves—some larger than others—and are learning from both.”
In an interview with Hotel Business, Dimond breaks down what you need to know to create a successful internship program:
Do Your Research.
First, it’s important to know how a successful internship performs before launching one of your own.
“While there are differences in our hospitality programs at each school, it is important to make sure that an organization constantly reviews the goals and objectives at regular intervals within each school or program,” he said. “Constant communication is necessary to ensure that we understand student needs, course curriculums, and we align our ever-changing needs of business to ensure the partnership will be successful. It is a growing and evolving process. It takes commitment, dedicated resources, flexibility and constant follow-through. Without the deep commitment from all our company leaders, we would not be as successful as we have been thus far.”
To achieve mutual goals, a working relationship can’t be one-sided.
“In order to create value for both students and associates, we have to build an internship that benefits both parties and has synergy. Without proper input and support of the company team, a program can only make it so far,” he said. “The objective is to instill enthusiasm in your associates so they feel like they are truly part of a company that is helping others get ahead in their young careers.”
At Stonebridge, the leadership team is continually striving to reach the best outcome for internship participants.
“The ideal outcome is that the students and associates walk away feeling as though they accomplished something through the program or internship—and learned something previously unrecognized,” he said.
Review Case Studies.
In 2016, the firm instituted the Stonebridge-Morgantown Marriott at Waterfront Place Hospitality Scholarship with West Virginia University.
Stonebridge owns and operates the Marriott adjacent to the campus of the school. Once the university implemented a hospitality and tourism major in 2014, the team at Stonebridge saw an opportunity to create a scholarship.
“The endowment gave us an opportunity to reward some of the hardworking students at the university, regardless of whether they would work with Stonebridge in the future. Working alongside WVU, we established the scholarship with the intention that every student awarded the recognition would obtain the opportunity to work side by side with our own Stonebridge associates in order to learn the ropes of what their future career would look like once they had graduated,” he said.
“Working closely with the university, we were also able to institute many other different learning components for the scholarships, and today, the students’ experiences include classroom instruction taught by some of our own Stonebridge associates as well as on-site instruction at the Marriott,” he continued.
“Students also obtain the experience of working part-time at the Marriott, and the end result is a great experience for the scholars, our associates and our hotel guests,” Dimond said. “Our philosophy is that when you add various kinds of experiential learning and internship opportunities, you have graduates who can really make a difference in the industry, no matter where they land in the job market.”
Tap into Talent.
There’s a cycle of education at Stonebridge. Corporate associates are learning from students and, in turn, sharing what they know in the classroom with the next generation of hoteliers.
“In 2014, we implemented the Rita and Navin Dimond Fellows Program at Metropolitan State University in Denver. Our primary goal when establishing the fellowship was to provide the fellows with the opportunity to have a realistic, hands-on experience of what working in the hotel business is all about, including attending management meetings as well as experiencing front-line operations in every functional area of a hotel,” he said. “In turn, we’re happy to report that the unintended value is that some future hospitality leaders have joined Stonebridge, which has been a highly valued byproduct of the program.”
Tweak as Necessary.
Dimond note that as the program evolved, the team has been in a continual state of refinement.
“To accommodate the scholars, we have adjusted scheduling, compensation and content. Even more impressive has been the thoughtful perspective on our guest journey from the next generation of travelers and hotel guests,” he said.
With a few internship programs under his belt, Dimond recommends the following tips:
“They should consider the overall benefits of implementing a program for both the company and the students,” he said. “A company should contemplate the type of experience they can offer that will impact associates as well as give back to students, and there also needs to be a deliberate openness and awareness to listen to constructive feedback from the students in order to evolve the internships with your company.”
By: Corris Little
Originally appeared in Hospitality Net in February, 2018
In 1991 there was no way of foreseeing the impact that social media would have on the industry. Presently, 2.3 billion people are active on social media, and that number increases daily. Companies should no longer debate having a social media presence but rather HOW to utilize the various platforms to increase the experience for your guests and value for your hotels.
As a privately owned hotel development and hospitality management company, we implement our social media plan adhering to both the guidelines of the hotel brands we work with, as well as, our own ideas about what makes social media successful in the hospitality industry. It is always a collaborative effort to investigate the evolving social media trends, new platform features, and stay aligned with what our guests hope to experience from following our hotels on social media.
Most hotels are dependent on word of mouth and good reviews from loyal guests, which is what makes social media a natural marketing and branding tool. The use of social media platforms has become widespread, and travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their experiences. Whether it is used intentionally or inadvertently, the leaders within the hospitality industry cannot ignore the impact of the social media paradigm on their businesses.
Here are four lessons that we learned to effectively navigate the social media world in order to market our hotels, as well as our company:
Because our hotels fall under many different brands, we are expected to adhere to each specific brand’s social media requirements. For example, some hotels prefer using Twitter and ask us to post five times per week, while others leave the decision about frequency and usage to us.
At all times, we are expected to respond and serve as communicators for the brands, which means that we understand the value of attending to EVERY review that comes in, taking on the responsibility of directing guests to the correct sources as well as those concerning customer service.
It is essential in the hospitality industry to respond to messages within a certain amount of time – usually, within the first few hours. Communication in this format should be viewed in the same way we would treat a guest who is standing at our front desk.
TripAdvisor is always considered in any hospitality business’ social media strategy. As many hoteliers know, it is a huge source of information and perception to your potential guests.
TripAdvisor ranks hotels based on three factors: recently posted reviews, the quantity of reviews, and the quality of reviews. At times, it can seem difficult to convince your guests to engage and review your hotel (unless the review is negative). Trends report that people are more apt to post about a negative experience than a positive one, but our team put a system in place in order to help with quantity and frequency of feedback from guests. We developed review cards featuring Google and TripAdvisor, and we send them to each of our hotel teams to give to guests, hoping that they will be encouraged to post about their experience on the spot.
Overall, the main standard we adhere to is to consistently make sure that all general managers at all of our hotels are aware of any and all reviews – especially the less favorable ones. This is one of the most useful tools we have in order to improve our hotel and guest service.
Recently, our DoubleTree in San Francisco created a campaign to encourage Facebook “likes” on its page by running a month-long competition offering a chance for bonus Hilton Honors™ points.
As points are always coveted by guests, the Facebook page received 1,500 “likes” in one month and the hotel, in turn, gave away 2,000 bonus points once a week to a random responder who had taken the time to follow the page.
Another successful campaign occurred last year around a Thanksgiving Buffet at Canyons Restaurant + Bar in our Boulder Marriott hotel. Candidly speaking, we were unsure how our audience would react to the offer, as we know that Thanksgiving often revolves around families gathering in a home. However, we posted it out on Facebook as a regular post, and drove it with the message of “a delicious buffet – without any of the dishes” and within a few days, we saw our results surpassed our initial expectations. (It might have helped that we offered – for guests of legal drinking age – a free glass of champagne!)
We then put a small amount of advertisement money behind it and made clear exactly what our restaurant would be serving, and ultimately, we had 65 people attend the buffet, and about 30 confirm that they saw it on Facebook.
We have learned time and again that in hospitality, people don’t necessarily care about the hotel they’re staying at (especially if it mimics others within the same brand) but they DO care what they can do around the hotel. Is it walkable to landmarks? Are hip bars nearby? Running trails? Kid-friendly stores?
We’ve found that posting videos is an easy way to get people engaged with the hotel as well as what is around it. Sometimes, hotels send us content about any events they have on property or nearby, or perhaps, if they want to showcase an employee, they will send us a picture and the content behind it. They’ll send Christmas trees and Halloween outfits to personalize the hotels so people don’t think of it as just another hotel. By posting about associates, we humanize our hotel so our great associates are given attention as well as the hotel culture itself.
As another part of our social media plan, we make an effort to share updated information on things to do in the local area, and we connect with the local businesses nearby that could advise their guests on our accommodation offerings. Is there a local landmark, attraction or tourist hotspot near the hotel? Follow their pages and promote their services to your followers. People will repay the favor.
By: Jordan Jones, Social Media Manager, Stonebridge Companies
Originally appeared in Hotel Executive in February, 2018
With the opening or acquisition of six hotels in 2017 and the upcoming opening of two hotels in Denver and Seattle in the first half of 2018, hospitality firm Stonebridge Companies continues to expand its corporate office in order to support its business growth. Stonebridge Companies is pleased to announce the three newest additions to its corporate team: David DiFalco, vice president of operations; John Douglas, director of facilities and engineering; and Richard Hamstead, project manager with the corporate design and construction team. Stonebridge Companies – a Denver-based, privately owned, innovative hotel owner, operator and developer – features a portfolio comprised of more than 50 hotels with more than 10,000 guest rooms nationwide.
As vice president of operations, DiFalco oversees seven of the Denver and Manhattan hotels within the hospitality firm’s portfolio. In this role he oversees the properties’ performance and team of general managers, and also supports the firm’s growth strategy for the Denver and New York markets. Previously, DiFalco served as the general manager of Stonebridge’s award-winning Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel. DiFalco holds a strong background within the hospitality industry, previously directing event management for a Marriott International property. He holds a degree in hotel and restaurant management from the University of Delaware.
Douglas joins Stonebridge Companies’ corporate team in his role as director of facilities and engineering, where he is responsible for training and leading the facilities maintenance engineers throughout the company. Prior to joining Stonebridge Companies, he served most recently as the director of engineering and loss prevention for a Marriott International property under The Ritz-Carlton brand in Tucson. Douglas earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Virginia Military Institute.
Joining Stonebridge Companies as project manager within the corporate design and construction team, Hamstead is responsible for supporting all aspects of the hospitality firm’s capital projects including the planning, design, pre-construction, construction, delivery and post-completion follow-up. Throughout his career, Hamstead has been involved in the design and pre-construction of hospitality projects, among other property types. Hamstead earned a degree in architecture from the University of Arizona.