HospitalityEducators.com: Questions I Wish You Would Ask Me – Justin Lewis, CHA

We continue this series with questions answered by Justin Lewis, CHA Corporate Operations Director at Timberline Hospitalities, LLC , based in Casper, Wyoming. 

Justin Lewis, CHA

Justin is  also a Guest Columnist at HospitalityEducators.com and an Adjunct Faculty – Instructor at Casper College

1. Name your favorite hotel and why it is special to you –
The Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyoming.  I love the west, history and this hotel has it both.  Famous people have stayed there such as Buffalo Bill and Butch Cassidy.   It is fully restored and beautiful.  My second would be the Holiday Inn Laramie, WY.  I am bias because it is a hotel I operate, however it is ranked #8 in customer satisfaction in the Holiday Inn system.  Great hotel, great team, great product.


2. Name your favorite restaurant and why it is special to you –
Cracker Barrel.  I’m southern, need I say more.  Grits and sweet tea.

3. Where do you vacation the most often?
Living in Wyoming, my family and I camp a lot around Yellowstone.  We also frequent Disney World.


4. What is your favorite charity or cause?
My Church/Missions.


5. Name your pet service peeve, why and any ideas you may have to address it
When employees fail to make the guest right.  When an employee or manager feels like they have to win an argument or prove to the guest why they are not correct really upsets me.  We teach often that the guest may not always be right but it is our job to make them right.  The key to address this starts at the interview process.  Hire people who are not out to win arguments.  They make good attorney’s but horrible Hospitality-minded people.

6. Who was the most important mentor in your life and why?
Rob Drawbridge – Senior VP of Operations at Quorum Hotels & Resorts.  He was my direct supervisor when I was a GM in Casper, WY.  He was very clear, intelligent, praised when it was deserved and did not micro manage.  He knew it was your hotel, your team and he trusted you.  He focused on the bottom-line and developing people.  He and I also had a lot in common which made it easy to communicate.

7. In the last five years, what has been your most memorable meeting or convention experience and why?
When I worked for Quorum Hotels and Resorts, we had a GM meeting at the Brown Palace in Denver.  Great speakers, motivators and projects.  Well thought out and well orchestrated.  Outstanding company to work with and for.

8. What is the one piece of advice you would offer to a graduating student with a hospitality degree?

The degree is nice!  But remember when it comes to Hospitality, focus on the qualities that cannot be taught versus the qualities that can be taught.  For example:  Happiness, joy, kindness, smiles, praise, connecting with your team – these can’t be taught.  That is what Hospitality is all about.  We can teach you the rest.

9. What is the one question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview today?

Where do you need to improve?

This series will continue in 2011, with questions answered by  Hospitality Professionals from around the world.  If you are interested in participating, please contact John.Hogan@HospitalityEducators.com
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