How to Make Hotel Guests Feel Welcome

He’s away on business. They’re enjoying a honeymoon in a dream destination or vacationing with the family during a yearly getaway. Maybe she’s just passing through. Regardless of why people are travelling, they trust the hotels where they stay with the important responsibility of making them feel right at home even when home might be thousands of miles away.

At the Shore Hotel, we take this duty very seriously, and as COO, I do everything in my power to make sure that guests have the most enjoyable and welcoming experience possible during their stay with us. Check out some of the secrets on how to make guests feel welcomed that I’ve learned after a long career in the hospitality industry!

A Personal Welcome

First impressions are lasting, so making sure you’re ready to greet your guests as they arrive goes a long way toward making them feel right at home. The personal introduction shows the guests that they’re valued, but beyond that, this is the first opportunity you have to shape their opinion of the hotel. You should be dressed professionally and with a friendly, enthusiastic attitude so you can warmly welcome your guests on behalf of the hotel and make them feel special—and happy with their choice of accommodation—as soon as they step through the doors.

Take Care of Their Needs

If your hotel is going to serve as a guest’s home away from home, then you’ll want to provide them with all of the creature comforts they need. In the bathroom, lay out toiletries like sustainable or eco-friendly soaps, shampoos, toothbrushes and toothpaste, razors, and other sundries. Place fresh flowers so that the room is fragrant by the time they arrive to make them feel at ease. And another nice touch for the modern traveler is offering a complimentary phone charger during their stay!

Touch Base Often

Once the guests have had a chance to settle in, find opportunities to catch up with them and ask how they’re enjoying their time with you. Do they like their room? Is there anything that you can do to make them feel more comfortable? These check-ins let guests know that you’re invested in their happiness and that you actually want them to be as comfortable as possible, which will make them feel right at home.


This blog was originally published on stevefarzam.org.


How Hotels Are Embracing Sustainability

As concerns about climate change continue to increase, more and more corporations worldwide are attempting to lessen their carbon footprints by promoting sustainability and minimizing waste. This has given rise to the concept of the “green meeting,” or “green event,” defined by the Convention Industry Council (CIC) as an event that incorporates environmental concerns into every aspect, so as to make it more eco-friendly.

As such, it’s important for event planners and hosts alike to incorporate these practices into their own businesses, to make their services more appealing to prospective customers. At the Shore Hotel, we’re proud to embrace our responsibility to the environment, and we’ve already taken a number of steps to help reduce our carbon footprint and act more sustainably. Here are some examples of how the sustainability trend is re-shaping the hotel industry!

Water and Energy Conservation

A good first step toward creating less water waste is the linen reuse program (those tags on the bathroom door that remind guests to hang towels for reuse) that is now an industry standard. A growing number of hotels have also switched to more efficient lighting and heating systems and installed low-flow bathroom fixtures to further decrease water and energy waste.

Recycling Efforts

Guests have long been encouraged to recycle beverage containers, but the movement has been taken several steps further with the reduction of disposable items, such as paper and plastic cups, coffee filters, and the like. Some hotels have even entered into composting programs to help eliminate food waste. In 2012, one hotel cut its diversion rate—the percentage of material diverted from landfill—from 15 to 90 percent with the aid of such a program, making it a “zero waste” facility.

Room Keys

The standard PVC keys—which utilize a highly toxic manufacturing process—are today often made out of more eco-friendly materials like paper, bioplastic, and even wood.

Natural Cleaning Products

By choosing more eco-friendly products—particularly ones that also cut back on the amount of packaging used—hotel chains can make drastic cuts to the environmental hazards caused by the ones containing toxic ingredients. This also decreases the risk to employee health.

Spas and Dining

Hotel restaurants that offer fresh, organic produce and GMO-free meat and dairy products will appeal to a growing number of health-conscious diners. Similarly, the use of natural products in spa treatments will help to strengthen the facility’s aura of well-being.

This blog was originally published at stevefarzam.org.


The Guest Whisperer: How to Help an Angry Guest

In the hotel industry, a proactive approach is always the best course of action. It’s preferable to head off any potential issues in advance, as this will help to ensure a positive guest experience right off the bat. Unfortunately, even the best-laid plans will sometimes go awry, and seasoned professionals will find themselves in the unenviable position of dealing with an angry guest.

Considering the competitive nature of the industry, this is bound to happen, even to the best in the field. Luckily, those with the proper training can come out of the situation unscathed—sometimes even turning it to their advantage. Here’s how.

Put Those Listening Skills to Good Use

An irate customer may not be the best at communicating, but pay close attention to what she’s saying nonetheless. This will help to facilitate a clear and agreeable approach to the issue.

Don’t Belabor Points

Even if the problem was caused largely through the customer’s own fault, it will do no good to point this out to him. Instead, allow him to vent his frustration before taking the floor.

Develop a Thick Skin

The customer’s anger is usually not with the person they’re talking to but with the specific circumstance that initiated the negative response. Remember this even if voices are raised and tempers are running high.

Maintain a Calm Demeanor

It’s the customer service specialist’s job to keep a calm and professional demeanor. It won’t help matters if both parties become aggravated—this will only escalate tension.

Attempt to Fix the Problem

If there’s an immediate solution, then by all means, make it happen. If the situation is beyond the employee’s power to fix, then she should immediately alert the next-highest person on the ladder, and so on, until the situation is resolved.

Don’t Go Overboard

While placating the customer is a must, a sense of fairness has to be retained. For example, it makes no sense to offer a voucher for a free night’s stay simply because the room didn’t have a satisfactory supply of clean washcloths available. Make the compensation commensurate with the complaint.

Follow Up

Reach out to the guest a day or so later, just to ascertain that the situation was resolved. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and be more likely to speak well of the experience.


2015 Skiftie Award: Best Social Media Customer Service

September 1, 2015
Our People

We were thrilled today to share that Hyatt has won ‘Best Social Media Customer Service’ in the 2015 Skifties Awards! The awards, in their second year, focus exclusively on recognizing what top travel brands are doing in the social space.

Truthfully, social customer service – or social care, as we call it – comes easy to us. We’re in the business of caring for people so they can be their best, and our social efforts are a natural extension of that purpose.

And as a bonus, we love doing it! We enjoy talking with our guests, building relationships on social and making their experiences that much better, no matter the occasion. As a team, we like seeing our guests come back time and time again with more questions, jokes, thoughts, and even feedback for how we can do our jobs a little bit better. There’s nothing better than when a guest reaches out via social for the first time and is blown away by the speed and personalization of our response.

We have dedicated global teams who use social to share with guests, helping you have a better stay. Have you ever seen the “^JB” on Twitter? That’s how you know who’s the person behind that tweet. (Her name is Julie, you should say hi!) A team we call The Control Room mans our social channels 24/7/365 (yes, even on Christmas and National Puppy Day.) Their passion and excitement for their work is what makes it such an amazing interaction and experience for our guests. We couldn’t do what we do without them, and we thank them for everything that they do, all day, every day. #ThreeCheersforTheControlRoom

So next time you’re staying with us, give us a shout! We’re in all the normal places, but you’ll find us especially quick if you talk to us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We can’t wait to see where your adventures take you, and we can’t wait to better care for you to be your best during your travels!


10 Years: Reflecting on New Orleans’ Post-Katrina Renaissance

August 27, 2015
Hyatt Leaders, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Thrive, Our People

On August 29, 2005, more than 3,800 guests and associates were staying at Hyatt Regency New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans. The hotel, then connected by a pedestrian bridge to the Superdome and centrally located adjacent to the Entergy Building and City Hall, became the headquarter location for city officials, emergency crews and national media. Current General Manager Michael O. Smith worked to safely evacuate guests and employees, while also supporting evacuation efforts from the Superdome through the hotel to buses leaving the city. He was named an “unsung hero” in a proclamation by the city of New Orleans.

In the aftermath of the disaster, the battered Hyatt Regency New Orleans became an iconic symbol of the city’s devastation and remained closed for six years. Following an extensive $285-million revitalization, the hotel reopened its doors in the fall of 2011 as the city’s premier hotel destination for meetings, conventions and events.

In an interview with Michael Smith, we reflected on the past decade and the state of our beloved New Orleans today.

Paul Morse, a Hyatt Regency New Orleans colleague, shows the before and after of Hyatt Regency New Orleans

Michael O. Smith, general manager of Hyatt Regency New Orleans

Michael O. Smith, general manager of Hyatt Regency New Orleans

Q: It is hard to believe it’s been a decade since Hurricane Katrina. What does this 10th commemoration mean to you?

Michael Smith: Every year at this time is certainly a time of reflection. But I believe this year marks a major turning point for the city. New Orleans is in the midst of a study-worthy renaissance. From unforeseen economic development and education reformation to revitalized neighborhoods and record-breaking visitation, the overall quality of life has improved significantly over the past 10 years.

Q: Hyatt Regency New Orleans has become a landmark in the city, specifically in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Why is this?

Smith: When we reopened the hotel in 2011, after being closed for six years, we quickly realized that this hotel didn’t just belong to us, but to the people of New Orleans as well. There was even a parade to celebrate our opening!

Q: What does the Hyatt brand mean in New Orleans?

Smith: Hyatt is a significant business leader in New Orleans, and its commitment to the city showcased a true revival, triggering many other companies to consider investing in the area as well. Downtown, where Hyatt Regency New Orleans is located, has seen more than $2 billion in economic development since the hotel’s reopening. There has been an urban explosion in the Central Business District with new residences, restaurants, growing retail spaces, a full-service grocery store and other new infrastructures to support a metropolitan lifestyle. This sort of environment had never existed in New Orleans before, and it’s exciting to see the influx of investors, visitors and residents to the area in the past four years.

Q: Hyatt Regency New Orleans is celebrated for its outstanding community service efforts. Which projects have meant the most to you?

Smith: We all recognize our greater purpose and that we are so much more than simply a hotel brand. Hyatt played such a critical role in August 2005, with hotels across the country providing provisions, taking in staff, and truly supporting us in every way possible. Now that we have recovered, we have made it an essential component of our business to give back to the local communities from whom we’ve gained so much.

For our grand opening, we teamed up with Brad Pitt’s Make It Right by creating a fundraising event to support rebuilding efforts in the Lower 9th Ward – one of the hardest hit neighborhoods during Katrina. The event, “A Night to Make It Right by Hyatt,” became one of the city’s most successful fundraisers to date, raising over $4 million to build 20 homes for underserved families.

Since then, the hotel has led several other initiatives including the restoration of the adjacent Bloch Cancer Survivor Plaza, rebranding UNCF’s Mayor’s Masked Ball and helping the organization raise more than $1 million each year to send local students to college, along with a host of other projects supporting the SPCA, Human Rights Campaign, Audubon Nature Institute, Emeril Lagasse Foundation and so many others. Each cause is as important as the next, and I am proud that Hyatt has been able to make such a significant difference in New Orleans.

Q: What’s your long-term outlook for the city the city of New Orleans?

Smith: As we look toward the future and prepare to celebrate the city’s tricentennial in 2018, I believe we can mark the past decade as a pivotal era in New Orleans’ 300-year history. It has been remarkable to experience and contribute to the continued revitalization of a great American city like New Orleans. Our connectivity to the global market will be greatly magnified with the $825 million expansion project underway at Louis Armstrong International Airport. The addition of the new terminal in 2018 will open the city up to international visitors from South America and Europe, while expanding access to the city domestically. I am personally excited about this project because it will bolster economic development beyond tourism and into the business space, which provides another critical element of sustainability for the city as a world-class destination.


5 Things Hyatt Taught Me About Hospitality

August 13, 2015
Our People

My name is Isabella Karamol, and I’ve been fortunate enough to join the Hyatt Family as a communications intern this summer. Before starting my role with Hyatt, I can tell you that I had absolutely no knowledge of the hospitality industry. I thought the industry was simply just hotels, and I loved hotels, so I thought, “This will be a good place for me.”

But I was blown away by the amount I have learned – even from the very first week! My parents came to visit Chicago during my first weekend here, and they were amazed at the way I was already babbling off facts about the Hyatt Centric hotel where they were staying and the broader industry.

Here is a taste of what I’ve learned about the hospitality industry through my experience with Hyatt.

  1. The difference between full service v. select service: When people started using these terms on my first day of work, I was thinking, “Am I the only one who doesn’t know what this means?” Soon after I had built up some courage, I had to ask, and it cleared up a lot for me. At a full service hotel, you have access to it all: in-hotel restaurants, a wide array of room amenities and typically room service. Select service offers the modern essentials: everything you need and nothing you don’t want. It’s a nice and simple place to stay for guests who aren’t seeking all the extras.
  2. Different brands for different groups of guests: It was simple in my mind before I started: Hyatt is Hyatt brand, Marriott is Marriott and Hilton is Hilton. Boy, was I wrong. Not only did these huge hotel names have more than just one brand, but Hyatt has eleven separate brands! They each have a unique identity and personality that comes along with them, tailored to the specific needs of their different groups of guests.
  3. Know your acronyms: HP, HH, HR, RevPAR, EBITDA. Whether it’s related to Hyatt’s brands, earnings or finances, everyone makes words or phrases into acronyms. It can be intimidating at first, but I quickly got the hang of it. There is so much Hyatt lingo, business lingo and hospitality lingo that it’s definitely a skill worth mastering.
  4. Hospitality is more than hotels: I had the opportunity to do different types of industry research, and my eyes were opened to a hospitality world beyond just hotels… a world of airlines, cruise lines, restaurants, leisure, tourism, and so much more. Really, it’s almost everything I love: people, food, travel and wine, so I love the industry even more.
  5. Care, care again and then care some more: Yes, I knew the hospitality industry was all about providing excellent customer service, but from just my short three months at Hyatt, I have learned that it is so much more than just a service. As a company, Hyatt’s purpose is to care for people so they can be their best. Everyone I worked with went above and beyond to show care, providing a lasting and caring impression. I found this especially true in how Hyatt treats its colleagues. I really admire that about Hyatt. It is a company that goes a step beyond just hospitality and provides people with genuine care.

An Untraditional Wedding Experience at Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort

August 4, 2015
Everything Else, Memorable Moments, Our People

From the moment two newlyweds arrived at Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort, Fabio, a hotel host, immediately sensed something was wrong. One of the guests was on the verge of tears, so Fabio tried to cheer her up by explaining how much fun she would have in Costa Rica.

Despite his best efforts, Fabio was unable to lift her somber mood.

Soon after, Fabio was left alone with her husband, who then explained the real reason why his wife was so upset. It turns out that the couple was not able to celebrate their wedding as planned because of a violent storm that rolled through their venue and destroyed the entire wedding set up.

Armed with this new information, Fabio found Sergio, the guest services assistant manager, to figure out how they could help the disheartenePapagayo Wedding Blog Storyd couple. Sergio realized that no amenity would cure the couple’s frustration, so he came with up an elaborate and personalized solution—another wedding. Sergio and Fabio quickly went to work to turn a bittersweet honeymoon stay into a full-blown wedding surprise.

Sergio and Fabio wrote up an email with their ideas to recreate a wedding celebration and sent it out to the entire Andaz Papagayo team. Sergio and Fabio’s colleagues replied with several more ideas to celebrate the couple’s marriage, and within two days the entire event was planned. The celebration included a ring exchange, pictures of the couple, a photographer, private band, champagne, chocolates, a ride around the property with dozens of colleagues throwing rice, and even a complimentary couple’s massage.

The couple later wrote a thank you letter to the team at Andaz Papagayo saying, “My wife and I will never forget the efforts of Fabio and Sergio, and we are so very Sergio and Fabioappreciative of the entire staff for participating in it. I travel for a living. I’ve stayed at over 25 hotels in the past couple of years, and I’ve never seen or even heard of a hotel putting together anything remotely close to what the Andaz Papagayo did for us. I cannot thank you guys enough, and I will stay at Hyatt everywhere, all the time.”

Fabio and Sergio worked effortlessly to provide a couple with a personal and once-in-a-lifetime experience and in return, gained lifelong Hyatt guests.


#SonsandFathers Series: Passing Down Lessons to the Newest Generation

July 29, 2015
Park Hyatt

With new Sons + Fathers books in all Park Hyatt guestrooms, our Park Hyatt colleagues share the family advice and lessons they will continue to pass down. Don’t forget to post your own story to Instagram using #SonsandFathers.

Marc von Arnmin, general manager at Park Hyatt Sydney, recounts a meaningful story and advice from his father, Mr. Georg von Arnim, and wishes to continue teaching his son, Zac, the same values.

“My father came to Australia from Germany in the late 1960s and did not speak a great deal of English. Australia was a very welcoming country and allowed him to be accepted and have a go of making his life and future. My father has always been very grateful for the opportunity he was given by coming to Australia. My father has always been there for me through good times and the bad.

My father has always taught me to be accepting of all people and that family always comes first in your life. I want to make sure that I pass on the same values to my son Zac.”

NitinFamily_1030x1400Nitin Kumar, Executive Chef at Park Hyatt Canbarra, shares a traditional family recipe that he and his father enjoyed together and that he continues to pass on to his children.

“Chef Nitin Kumar was born and raised in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Lucknow has always been known as a multicultural city that flourished as a North Indian cultural and artistic hub, with strong Persian influences dating back to Mughal rule in the fourteenth century. Modern day Lucknowites are renowned for being the most polite people in India!Nitin-Dev_1030x1374

Nitin’s love of cooking comes from his mother Indra. Growing up Nitin and his father Lal would look forward to special occasions like Holi and Diwali when Indra would make Goat Yakhni for the family. This recipe has been passed down from his grandparents, and Nitin has taught his wife Priyanka to make the dish as well. This tasty rice dish is a North Indian classic with definite Persian influences, and it gets its name from the Yakhni (meat stock) it is cooked in.

Since leaving India, Kumar and Priyanka have lived in New Zealand and Australia. Especially when the All Blacks rugby team are playing a big match, they will gather friends and for a feast, including Goat Yakhni, and to watch the game!

Nitin looks forward to teaching his daughter Chhanak and son Dev, who was born last year, to make Goat Yakhni, continuing his family tradition.”

Wurm-3-Generations----PictureChristian Wurn, general manager at Park Hyatt Chennai, said his father’s passion for the environment created a special bond between them. Today, Christian continues to pass the values on to his children.

“He always made sure that my brother and I had a good bike and ride it whenever possible to school, work, shopping and other activities. A real environmentalist and avid cyclist!

His dream was to see his grandchild riding a bike was his passion! Unfortunately he passed away the year after this picture was taken, but he made sure that his wife (Leah’s grandmother) gifted the first bike to Leah.”

His father’s advice is: “Love Nature. It inspires and nurtures!”

Don’t miss these previously shared father-son stories from Park Hyatt colleagues:


#SonsandFathers Series: Lessons Shared From Our Fathers

July 27, 2015
Park Hyatt

With new Sons + Fathers books in all Park Hyatt guestrooms, our Park Hyatt colleagues are sharing their own stories and lessons passed down for generations. Don’t forget to post your own story to Instagram using #SonsandFathers.

Julian Moore, general manager Park Hyatt Maldives, always remembers the importance of learning with experience and using that experience to make your life as extraordinary as possible through his father’s story and advice.

“My father is a surgeon. The son of a hardware store owner, he worked to put himself through medical school and still keeps studying to this day, at the age of 67. A city boy born and bred, before I was born his career took him across Argentina from Buenos Aires province to the wine and olive-growing region of Mendoza.  A keen runner, soon after arriving he set out for a long jog in the countryside and was delighted to see olives hanging down from the trees. He picked one, popped it in his mouth… And spat it out again, disgusted! He had no idea that olives need to be brined before becoming palatable. I realize now that, when he told me this story during my childhood, it was to teach me that it doesn’t matter how well-educated you are, real learning always takes place ‘in the field’ – sometimes literally!”Mariano-and-father-1_1030x1546

“My father is a surgeon. The son of a hardware store owner, he worked to put himself through medical school and still keeps studying to this day, at the age of 67. A city boy born and bred, before I was born his career took him across Argentina from Buenos Aires province to the wine and olive-growing region of Mendoza.  A keen runner, soon after arriving he set out for a long jog in the countryside and was delighted to see olives hanging down from the trees. He picked one, popped it in his mouth… And spat it out again, disgusted! He had no idea that olives need to be brined before becoming palatable. I realize now that, when he told me this story during my childhood, it was to teach me that it doesn’t matter how well-educated you are, real learning always takes place ‘in the field’ – sometimes literally!”

Ulrich-Father.Son-Picture_1030x686Ulrich Samietz, general manager Park Hyatt Aviara,
recalls the way his father enjoyed the simpler things in life and admired his career in hospitality.

“My father was an engineer – he built things. He designed, sold and installed large vacuum arc melting plants. He sold a tangible product. I, on the hand, design, sell and facilitate a guest’s stay – for business or pleasure. I do not sell a tangible product but rather an experience, a dream, so to say.

My father could never get his head around what I did for my career. He would say “ Let me get this straight, you walk around the hotel, talk to guests, talk to associates, taste food from the kitchen and taste wines – and you get paid to do this?”

“While my father enjoyed the occasional upgrade to a suite, he was more excited if I could get him access to the Regency Club and if he received a simple bottle of wine, something preferably sweeter for my mother to enjoy. He traveled the world, flying for business in business and first class; enjoyed the best restaurants in Asia, Europe and the Americas; took us on the Concorde; traveled via ocean liners cruises across the Atlantic, yet he got his biggest kicks when he received a bottle of house wine to enjoy with my mother. A wonderful man and I miss him dearly.”

image92A8786E-CA36-4AB3-BFEA-EFB350ED312C-DSC00615_640x422Bonnie Strome, general manager Park Hyatt Toronto, shares the values and memories her father gave her.

“This is my father, Ed Strome. He is the father of six children and he and my mother, Judy just celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary. The greatest values learned from my father were how to remain humble and to remain true to yourself.

My fondest memory of my father was during a family vacation that he was able to join us on. In my entire life I had never witnessed my father wearing shorts or sandals. Inspired by my two young daughters, he removed his socks, rolled up his pants and walked along the sand and into the lake. I have a photo of my daughters with my father looking out onto the lake during the sunset that evening and it rests in a frame in my living room.”

Don’t miss these previously shared father-son stories of your colleagues: