By whom were you most influenced throughout your professional development?
I was most influenced by my Aunties and Uncles, Mom and Dad. I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii. Our ‘ohana would have weekly barbeques at Kaimana Beach at the base of Diamond Head right outside of Waikiki. We would bring food and a hibachi to grill. Let me reiterate; we would bring an insane amount of food; banqueting table’s worth. Literally anyone that walked by; tourists, lifeguards, friends taking a sunset stroll, we would invite them to join us. I saw what a difference a generous heart made. In Hawaii, we call it the Aloha Spirit. It truly is a way of life, sharing goodness with others. I soon realized that my calling was to be in the Hospitality industry.
What experiences, professional or personal, do you feel best prepared you to be a Guest Experience Manager?
For 20 years I have worked as an event planner. This background has allowed me over the years to cast a wide net over the individual needs of clients and guests. I can scan a room and see who is genuinely enjoying themselves and those who may have an issue. I’m not afraid to approach the later guest and gently ask them what we can do to improve their experience. Recognizing behavioral cues our guests are displaying, no matter how subtle, is a foundational skill I have learned throughout my years in the industry have best prepared me for my current role as Guest Experience Manager. When inquiring a guest if they’ve enjoyed their stay, and they pause to respond, I already know they’re contemplating whether or not they should mention a disappointment they encountered. Once they see I genuinely care, they open up to me and we can make it right for them. For our guest that have had a wonderful experience, we ensure our management team is following up with them, establishing a relationship, making themselves personally available for future visits.
How do you see The Waterfront Beach Resort as being different from other resorts in Huntington Beach, CA?
I feel we set ourselves apart with our management style from the top down. Our General Manager, Paulette Fischer, is very service driven and makes herself available to our guests and associates. As she sets the tone for the hotel, we are all very quick to follow her example. I have never worked at a property where there is such a true sense of hospitality and comradery. We are praised by our guests for our helpfulness and sincerity. We receive frequent comments that we are all genuinely happy. The truth is, we work by the beach with a great team, key ingredients for a happy work environment! Our service is truly what will always set us apart.
Currently, what are your highest priorities or initiatives from a guest experience standpoint?
I have recently revamped our in-house amenities that are delivered to guest rooms upon arrival. If a guest goes out of their way to let us know they are celebrating a life event such as an anniversary or birthday; we ensure our team exceeds all communicated expectations. We have a wide range of specialized amenities our staff can select from as well as be purchased by friends and family for their loved ones during a stay. I also take into consideration the guest comments from previous visits to make sure we have everything on hand to make their stay a memorable one.
How have you seen guest expectations and/or demands change over the past few years? What do you believe is driving these changes?
By far, social media is the driving force behind demand. Sites such as TripAdvisor to Instagram have made an already savvy consumer even more knowledgeable. They arrive on property with a postcard perfect image of what their stay should look and feel like. I take that challenge head-on; make sure our staff is trained to do everything in their power to meet those expectations.
Have your professional experiences influenced your personal experiences as a guest at other hotels or resorts? If so, how?
My ‘spidey-senses’ are turned up to overdrive when I visit other properties! Ha! I look for things that set that property apart; how they welcome us, I see if they mention comments I’ve written in my reservation. I look for unique ways they set up a buffet all the way to signage. I am always looking for take-aways to improve what I am currently doing and executing.
Are there any rising trends within the Hospitality & Tourism industry that you see becoming relevant within the next few years?
We have seen a huge jump in the way the digital age is influencing the industry. One unique enhancement Hilton Brand offers is Digital Key which means you can open your hotel room with your smart phone. We are no longer a microwave generation. Its tech driven experiences. This next generation will now wait in line for an hour if it’s for the latest craze item that will result in an Instagram picture they’re looking for. Here at The Waterfront, we are creating a refreshed environment with the opening of our expansion and updated décor and features; new guest suites, waterslides and a rooftop lounge. It will be the perfect Southern California backdrop for families, millennials and the seasoned business traveler for years to come. We can’t wait to show it off!
What is your favorite quote?
Proverbs 3:27 has been one of my life verses for both my personal and professional ventures!
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.