“Questions I Wish You Would Ask Me™” includes interviews such as those found in our HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS, and and it also allows industry professional the opportunity to share their perspectives, values and opinions on additional areas and subjects that may not have been part of the planned discussion. This segment includes a wide range of hospitality professionals from all portions of the industry. We ask participants to answer at least five of the listed nine questions. Their responses will interest, sometimes amuse and definitely inspire you to consider how YOU might answer.
In this article, we reached out to Ed Iannarella, President of the Stonehenge Consulting Group, an international firm specializing in hotel sales training and consulting. Ed has developed and delivered sales training programs for all types and segments of hotels and resorts in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Aruba, England, and Central and South America. 2011 marks his 31st year in the hospitality sales world.
1. Name your favorite hotel and why it is special to you:
Princess Hotel Zona Rosa in San Salvador, El Salvador during trips in 2000 and 2001. In what some might consider an impoverished country, there sat a gem of a full service hotel in the exclusive Red Zone (Zona Rosa) section of the capital city. It was magnificent from an FF&E standpoint , but what allowed it to stand apart from the hundreds of hotels I’ve consulted for or stayed at as a paying guest, was simply this: a staff that truly epitomized hospitality. Whether in the fine dining restaurant (and I do mean fine dining in the European tradition) or in a conference room, the service was “non pareil.” Staff members not only assertively, yet politely, recognized and satisfied my needs immediately, but they did so with genuine thankfulness. Their attitude conveyed their gratitude. There was no sense of entitlement or any feeling that their jobs were burdensome. Instead, there was joy in their eyes and on their faces for having the “privilege” to serve all guests. My guess is that pioneers like Kemmons Wilson, J.W. Marriott , or Conrad Hilton would have thought that this hotel really showed what hospitality was meant to be.
2. Name your favorite restaurant and why it is special to you:
Le Bec Fin, Philadelphia, PA. It has, for years, defined culinary excellence and attention to detail. Some might find it a bit too formal, but I was always so impressed by the taste/presentation excellence of all parts of their nine course dinner. Dessert-monger that I am, I once tasted portions of 17 different desserts from their legendary cart.
3. Where do you vacation the most often?:
Ft Myers, FL now since moving here 2 years ago, but in my hay day of true getaways, Italy was my preference. The country has numerous sub-cultures so you can get lost in the unique and rich traditions of each. The country’s history is staggering, its people are fun loving and can teach us lessons on “la dolce vita,” and the food and wine are beyond description.
5. Name your pet service peeve, why and any ideas you may have to address it:
2 are tied for first place
- 1) inability to access a human quickly enough by phone (1 solution is that companies should listen to their customers’ input/suggestions via phone surveys, online surveys, etc.), and
- 2) locating a service agent who actively listens and can verify a customer’s problem/concern before attempting to solve problems (1 solution: better training/re-training/performance tie-in to job security).
6. Who was the most important mentor in your life and why?:
In retrospect, my mother. With a 9th grade education, her actions spoke volumes as she taught me to be kind to people in a world where kindness seems to be dwindling.
7. In the last five years, what has been your most memorable meeting or convention experience and why?:
In 2006, I spoke at a Blackstone convention on the Big Island of Hawaii and it was special for 2 reasons.
- I was able to bring my wife, and what’s not to like about Hawaii?
- Second, it was the first large convention I was able to work after a 2 year bout with cancer.
8. What is the one piece of advice you would offer to a graduating student with a hospitality degree?:
Ask yourself if you are able to be humble with all types of people, and if the answer is “no” or “not sure,” then do the hospitality industry AND yourself a favor by considering other careers.
9. What is the one question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview today?: What makes you unique?
Ed Iannarella, President Stonehenge Consulting Group 17149 Wrigley Circle Ft. Myers, FL 33908
Feel free to share an idea for a column at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements … And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.
John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is Co-Founder of a consortium (www.HospitalityEducators.com) of successful corporate and academic professionals delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today. www.HospitalityEducators.com is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability. Individuals wishing to contribute materials may send them Kathleen@HospitalityEducators.com. Special introductory pricing is in effect for a limited time that also includes a complimentary copy of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD- A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES.