From TX to TN

Being home for a week or two feels amazingly good. I love traveling but miss cooking in my own home. I am a decent cook, nope that is being too modest- I am good. Good as in most restaurants I leave thinking, I can do that at home- but would have to refill my own glass.

Our recent quick trip to TX for a friends wedding had the usual stresses- cramped leg space on flights, last minute choose your seats charges (when did that start?), and flight delays that have you running while praying you make your next flight. But we made it and enjoyed great Mexican food, local beer and the clean, friendly downtown of Abilene. I love unique event venues and The Mill was rustic, beautiful and perfect for our friends wedding. TX pics follow

On to Nashville TN, the following weekend for my oldest daughter’s 21st birthday. One of my sisters helped me chaperone, but really we wanted to just make sure my daughter and her friends got there safely and back. A fun road trip for sure. Now that I am older and wiser, lol, I would suggest for the more mature visitors that “day” downtown Nashville is more fun. Fun means easier parking, less crowds and more chances to sit down at the historic honky tonks or at the new restaurant & bars that the newer country stars seem to be opening by the minute.

Nights are a little more hectic, where the sidewalks of Broadway are packed. Side street venues are your friend then. Our new favorites this time? BB Kings, Bourban St. Blues in Printers Alley, Merchants Restaurant. Favorites we revisited? Wild Horse Saloon, Jack’s BBQ, Big Shots, Tequila Cowboy and George Jones Rooftop. Pics follow. I loved showing my sister around one of my favorite destinations and my daughter enjoyed walking her friends and boyfriend around as well. It is a downtown that is always ready to party.

Next? Biloxi in July. It’s gonna be hot y’all. Happy Travels!

Advertisements

Recent road stories

Been awhile but I actually am still traveling a bit. Just not as inspiring until recently, and upcoming travel has me stoked. Sometimes I get a little too “career talk motivational” when the truth is travel drives my creative side more. As much as task force work 4 years ago was tough on me, my family and friends – it also gave me distance and perspective. Time to think, and not just be in action mode.

For work, I have revisited some hotels in my region in the Dayton, OH and South Bend, IN. Changing markets and staffing requires an in person visual, to really assess any strategic changes to be made. I love looking at the market, the competition and the business environment. Change is constant, not being prepared for it can be devastating. I love the South Bend area and can see the attraction of the Notre Dame campus, the downtown canal area and new casino. The challenge is – so do hotel companies. There is a building boom there that seems to changing the entire market. Big challenge for the hotels that are not shiny and new.

Dayton, Ohio is also interesting as the different sides of town have distinct business potential and growth of construction is changing the city.

But my truly inspiring road trip of late? Being the navigator and passenger on a 10 hour drive to Fort Benning, GA with one of my sisters. And back. Yep, 10 hours in a car with her in high school might have meant fights of epic nature. But as we are older and more mature with kids that can drive us crazy – those 10 hours of sister therapy might have kept us insane. And I got to see one of my nephews enjoying the challenges of starting his military career. We both came back a little calmer, proud and confident that we are not horrible moms. We may even be good at, but our biggest critics aren’t old enough to appreciate it fully yet. And that is okay. We didn’t appreciate our mom fully at those ages either. But we got back home, ironically, on Mother’s Day. And we were missed.

Up ahead? 3 flights and 2 road trips for leisure in the next two months. And yeah – work trips to fit in there too. Who knows where my next blog will be from? Where are you going?

Happy Travels,

Jill

Why teamwork is important

No one succeeds alone. Let me repeat that – No One Succeeds Alone. Whether it is your team at home or at work – you don’t really succeed all by yourself. In my younger years , I may not have recognized enough the importance of being one part of a strong team.

Let me now say – it is everything. If you have ever experienced the lack of teamwork, then you know what I mean. As an individual, you know you can do so much – which includes putting your family last, working late, giving every last ounce of your “good energy” to your job. And you can still be “thrown under the bus” by a colleague or colleagues that need to put the blame somewhere.

It’s not personal, it’s business. And I have heard that before – but when you are on the recieving end, it is very personal. When you take your work life personally, it hurts. But when you succeed as a team, it is equally as awesome. Where is the balance?

The team is your balance. Win or lose, you do it together. It’s called trust, responsibility and not passing the buck. Learn this young, and you may have a future that is full of people that will work with you, for you and refer other potential rock stars to you.

Take too long, and you play defense forever. Your latest win, your most recent team – is all you take to the bank. In hospitality, that is dangerous. I have the utmost respect for those that I have worked with and for– and would again. That is rare, but I know I am lucky that there are a few of those in my past. And in my future. Most of those folks are from my early years. They took the time to listen to my ideas while teaching me from their experiences. That is my bank, my future.

Which makes it very personal. Who is in your bank?

A year to remember

Ah, yes – you almost escaped my one year anniversary post. And I am late, I will give you that. In the midst of the chaos of balancing our careers, home, our 3 pre-teens, time with our college students and vet visits for our dogs – we got away to celebrate our 1st yr of wedded bliss. Okay – really we went away to be able to take naps, in between whooping it up in Louisville and remembering how fun we can be.

And we are so much fun! When you take away the daily “have to’s” of life. We stayed at the same B&B where we got married, DuPont Mansion in historic Louisville. Louisville is one of my favorite places, you can go several times and not go to the same places twice. We did both, mixing our favorites from last year with a few new places. And we did nap, the beds were so comfortable and no kids or dogs to wake us up. We enjoyed the music, and food at Fourth Street Live, the casino at New Albany, visited Churchill Downs for the first time and dreamed of having our own B&B someday.

And we reflected on the challenges over the last year. It is the same at home and at work – there are things that work and what doesn’t work, you adjust. He transitioned from a midscale brand general manager to full service while getting the right people in the right places, while I had some very real budget challenges and changes to face in my region. We had days that we questioned what we were doing and then gave each the confirmation to keep going. Sometimes we had times where balancing our jobs and the kids school events took a lot of effort and we still weren’t “SuperParents”. We adjusted some rules at home to reflect the kids getting older and needing some space to make their own decisions.

We strive for a better balance every day, keeping our focus on professional goals while maintaining a more peaceful home to come home to. And we planned for this summer…

Safe travels,

Motivation or lack of?

I have a few or more years of traveling and working with different General Managers and Sales people over the years. A lot of different personalities but one common nemesis at times.

What is my motivation? Maybe a promotion was denied, a large client lost, or gasp, no bonus for the last month, quarter or dbl gasp, year. Could also be that there does not seem to be a next step for the career, so you are not sure what you are working for.

Honestly, this can stop the most amazing associate in their tracks. I have been told that I am very self aware, as I recognize my shortcomings and work on overcoming them quickly. I would tell you I don’t do it quickly enough, or that my solutions are not as permanent as I would like. But, I am human. And as a human, my motivation changes – even daily. From the basic paycheck & benefits motivation all the way to I AM GOING TO CHANGE HOSPITALITY FOR THE BETTER AND AFTER THAT, THE WORLD!!!

Laugh if you want but sometimes we have those days where we get the big deal, get a meeting with the right client or win the big contest. And that day is soooooo good. Then you wake up the next day – and wonder, how will I match or exceed that today? And then you pull the covers over your head, scream – and get over it. After all, there is coffee and you need your job to buy it.

So, there is your motivation.

Now go change the world or at least make the coffee.

That gut feeling

We in the business world have a long list of “tools” we use to analyze day to day our decisions. In hotels, if you have a Rev Manager, Rev Max Manager or even Revenue Optimization Specialist – then you know exactly what I am talking about. These data crunchers, analytical thinkers who never seem to tire of pulling up a report or reports – are there to tell you if the business you are pursuing is worth the rooms, the rate and the timing. How much, how many, when and what rate? Those in sales, live and breathe these questions.

For those not in the hotel world, this can be a harsh black and white view of hospitality. You just wanted a relaxing vacation, family reunion, wedding weekend or even a corporate meeting to launch your new business etc. Bet you thought it was all about you.

And it is. But it is also about the budget the hotel has to meet that month, and the pace of business over the dates you wanted. And about the staffing, and the events in that city that you are not interested in but will affect your price quote all the same. Almost takes the fun out of it, eh?

But there are a lot of sales and revenue professionals that merge this well with amazing customer service. And you will know the difference when you encounter them. These folks still use their gut when making some decisions. After all, who were the first hotel sales ppl to work with Apple, Amazon, Microsoft etc? Did they use a formula to decide if they should work with them? Or did they just give them great service and from that – build great loyalty?

Speaking of gut feelings and great service, my husband and I were attempting to book our annual stress free, no kids, beach vacation. We like to try someplace new each year but the wanted amenities are the same – hotel or resort on the beach, golf course, casino, great places to dine and all walkable if possible. The goal is to relax and not do much else.

We considered our brand discount employee rates, and also shopped for flight and hotel packages. We decided on a coastal destination that has all we wanted. Looked online but still had questions, so we called the resort. Our question was simple, as a large casino resort – do they have a shuttle from the airport? Call center time. Simple, right?

Wrong. We were asked if we have a players card. No. Can we still have a shuttle ride, is there a cost? Got tranferred to security, who handles the shuttle. Again – asked do we have a players card? No, we just need to know if they have a shuttle that we can take from the airport? First time being there – we just like to get the basic info.

Transferred to front desk and told we would need to talk to our casino host. What? We don’t need a casino host as big high rollers , we are not.

All the same- that is who we had to talk to. In this whole experience, not one person spoke clearly or professionally. And we never got a clear answer on being able to get a shuttle from airport or the cost. We cancelled, my gut said to.

Then before the joy of planning our stress free vacation was ruined, we booked another resort online, booked our flights online and decided to Uber from airport. I did not want the experience of talking with another call service professional.

Hmmm, what does this say? The people who answer your phones are the first contact. How good are they? How often do you call and test them?

Let’s keep the hospitable feelings in hospitality, shall we?

Travel well and prosper,

Jill

Sexual Harassment and Hospitality

No, I am not going to subject you to a corporate video on what is okay in the workplace and No, I do not have a degree in Human Resources.

But I do have the common sense my momma gave me. And that, my friends, did give me everything I need to know. Every year, every company probably sends each associate the directive to take the most recent harassment training they provide.

And yet, we still have people behaving badly. Shocking, isn’t it? Hollywood is certainly in an uproar and it is understandable. There is an environmental change happening, and hopefully it is a change for the better. Why am I skeptical?

There have always been humans behaving badly, after all – we are human. So what do we do?

There is such a fine line between work and personal life, the line gets crossed. I know of many long term romances and marriages that happened because of romance in the workplace. With the workaholic tendencies some , well most of us have – it is natural to find common ground where you spend most of your waking hours.

But there is a difference between good, old fashioned romance and using your work position to gain advantages personally over another human. I am not going to make this a male / female thing, as there are a lot of definitions out there that I cannot and will not try to cover. So, as humans – here are some basics I like to stick to and most certainly try to pass on to my kids.

1.Compliments are okay, if you leave out body parts and explicit terminology. Example – “That is a great suit, good luck on your presentation today. You look professional and confident”.

Not “mmmmm, you look hot today” “That dress fits your body perfectly”.

We all may laugh a little when we are asked to role play how to better handle potential uncomfortable situations. It is an uncomfortable discussion to have. Think about it, if it sounds a little creepy, it probably is.

2. Approaching someone for more than workplace friendship… this is tough but not really. When our kids are growing up, getting crushes and dealing with potential rejection are a part of life. We do too, ideally much better now that we are adults. “No thank you” should be the most easy response and accepted as such. No long explanations, it should be to the point and lets the other person walk away and let it go.

3. Jokes, slang, when it all goes a little too far – we should recognize when we cross a line. And wait for it… this is huge….Apologize. Right then. No waiting.

It really does come down to treating each other with respect and Hospitality. Saying I am sorry counts more when we don’t need a supervisor or gasp – a judge to make us “do the right thing”.

From your fellow human,