Our People-First Philosophy Sets the Industry Standard
When Troy Cardwell got promoted as the Managing Director of The Marbella at Pelican Bay, a luxury retirement community managed by Guest Services, Inc., he finally landed his dream job. “It was a position that I’ve been reaching for since the start of my career,” he says. After spending more than 31 years in the hospitality industry, Troy knows what it takes to deliver the best in guest service experiences: excellent people, great client relationships, and community partnerships. And while in the hospitality industry “they all say the guest comes first,” he says, “Guest Services was the first place where they truly meant it.”
Since its inception in 1917 to serve food to government workers in Washington, D.C., Guest Services’ foundation remains steadfast 100 years later; that in this business, being committed to excellence in hospitality means being committed to providing a team-focused work environment, personalized programs that elevate its clients, and giving back to its communities.
Investing in People Means Investing In Guest Experiences
At the DoubleTree Hilton in Naples, Fl. – one of several properties Jennifer Wallace leads as the managing director – she recalls one of her first meetings with Mr. Gerry Gabrys, Guest Service’s CEO. She sought his approval on an order for all-new bedding for an updated brand requirement, asking him if he would like to phase in the orders as is typical in the industry. His response? Order all of them.
“I remember him asking me why would we want a guest to have one experience that didn’t match their next visit,” says Jennifer. “This is rare in hotel ownership.”
And the returns show. Their DoubleTree Hilton property in Naples, Fl. has been the recipient of 12 Hilton Connie Awards – the highest hotel award for all brands across Hilton’s Worldwide portfolio and the most of any DoubleTree hotel. Among this, they have also been the recipient of several additional awards from the brand including the DoubleTree Pride Award, and DoubleTree Environmental Creating a Rewarding Experience (CARE) Award. In 2015, Jennifer was also recognized with the DoubleTree Leadership of the Year Award.
“At Guest Services, particularly with Mr. Gabrys, we understand the value of delivering a quality and consistent experience,” says Jennifer. Guest Services approach focuses on quality to drive revenues, rather than a short-term mindset that might impact customer experience and long term revenues.
Guest Services has transformed and evolved as the needs of its customers and communities have changed over the past century. But one thing remained: building a people-first company results in a people-first work culture and spectacular guest experience. “The thing that I love about working with Guest Services is that the people-first approach starts with the CEO, it genuinely permeates in the corporate office and makes its way to the teams managing properties onsite,” Jennifer says.
“The thing that I love about working with Guest Services is that the people-first approach starts with the CEO, it genuinely permeates in the corporate office and makes its way to the teams managing properties onsite.” – Jennifer Wallace, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Naples
Create Positive Customer Experiences Every Single Time
On the ground across Guest Services’ hotel properties, state and national parks, and senior living residential communities, each member of the team strives to ensure every customer experience is a positive one, regardless if they deal with just one customer or tens of thousands each day. “True hospitality is motivated by turning every experience into a positive one,” says Troy.
For Addis Worku, a district manager of the National Mall parks in Washington, D.C., that means embracing each of the millions of visitors that come to “America’s Front Yard” as an individual. “As a national park, you don’t see a lot of repeat customers since our visitation is driven primarily by national and international tourism,” Addis explains. While every cashier, utility person, or an attendant may be asked for information that is typically intended for an employee of the National Park Service, Addis educates her staff and encourages them to drive a valued visitor experience no matter what question or situation presents itself. “We encourage our staff to serve as the ‘face’ of the National Mall and take great pride in doing their best to answer every question so we ensure everyone leaves the National Mall with a positive, memorable experience. ”
Working in nationally treasured locations such as the Mall is a calling, not a job. Recently Addis encountered a visitor who was not familiar with Washington, D.C.’s rules and regulations near the Park. So when the customer visiting from out-of-town had their car towed, Addis gave them a ride in lieu of telling them who to call. “You go the extra mile to make a guest happy. Sure, that would be an instance where it’d be easy for someone to say ‘It’s not in my ‘job description’, but, we do such things for our valued guests and visitors because it’s the right thing to do,” she says.
For Troy, the loyalty, respect, and appreciation he has for Guest Services is beyond personal goals or compensation. It’s more than teamwork. “It’s not about what you receive, it’s what you give. It’s not only what you are giving a customer, it’s about what you are giving each other in order to reach the same goal. It’s about all of us getting ahead together.”
“It’s not about what you receive, it’s what you give. It’s not only what you are giving a customer, it’s about what you are giving each other in order to reach the same goal. It’s about all of us getting ahead together.” – Troy Cardwell, The Marbella at Pelican Bay