Heaven, by Hotel Standards | Observations from a New England Hotelier

People are drawn to hotels.  There’s something about the center of activity in a busy, full service hotel that attracts people from all walks of life globally..

The Parker House hotel in Boston Massachusetts has been open continuously since 1855, and is arguably the oldest continually operating hotel in the United States.

Mark Twain stayed here for a month  in 1877 and he is but one of literally hundreds of celebrities to have made this hotel very well known and appreciated.

Heaven, by Hotel Standards is a book about the history of the Omni Parker House, with information compiled by Susan Wilson.  On page eight of this book,  there’s a wonderful welcome letter from the current general manager, John Murtha, CHA. I had the privilege of meeting John, who is a gracious hotelier.   His letter is sincere and genuine, and  the information about the service of the general managers from 1927 until today helps to demonstrate a longevity and quality of what you seldom find in most brands or hotels today.

In addition to Mark Twain, this book identifies a Who’s Who of celebrities who have been patrons of this hotel   From the age of literature there are writers like Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorn and Longfellow.  From baseball, there are some well known names ranging from Babe Ruth to Ted Williams to Carl Yastrzemski to David Ortiz.  The hotel has been a center of  of activity in politics with people ranging from Ulysses S Grant, Mayor James Michael Curley, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Colin Powell, Bill Clinton and most recently, and former Governor Deval Patrick as guests.  Boston has a strong theatrical presence in the theater district and hosted a wide range of prominent actors including John Wilkes Booth (of Lincoln assassination infamy)  Sarah Bernhardt, as well as more contemporary entertainers as Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, James Dean, Stevie Nicks, Yo Yo Ma , Rachel Raye and Ben Affleck.

The hotel itself was built by Harvey Parker, who relocated from his family farm in Maine.  The Parker family arrived in America in the 1630s and Harvey did not want to remain in agriculture.  After number of years in Paris, he arrived in Boston and began his first venture into the hospitality business with a restaurant.  The book does a balanced review, explaining the evolution of the family from the restaurant business and to finding a location for and building what became the Parker house.

The Parker House has had a long time reputation for food and hospitality.  It is credited with creating or perfecting Boston Cream pie, lemon meringue pie, Boston Scrod and of course, the Parker House Rolls.  The book shares an anecdote about Eleanor Roosevelt looking and her request for the recipe, which had been a well kept secret until that request in 1933.

Celebrity chefs at this hotel have included television personalities Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay and Martha  Stewart who all wanted to link their reputation with that of the well-known Parker House.  There are stories in the book of organic farming from local farms, orchards and dairies 100 years before organic cooking became popular in the rest of the world.

The Saturday Club was a literary discussion group and included Henry David Thoreau, Henry Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, diplomat Charles Francis Adams, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and many others, who enjoyed the culinary service and hospitality of the Parker house once a month for a number of years.  Charles Dickens resided in the Parker house during his 1867-68 lecture tour.

The Parker house is located  across the street from the old Boston City Hall and  is two blocks from the state capitol.  Every US president from Grant to Clinton stayed at this hotel at some point during their presidency.  The book and movie the Last Hurrah was based on the experiences and activities of longtime mayor James Michael Curley.  The Kennedy family were regular visitors to the hotel and former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neal is pictured in the book’s preface.

There are interesting interviews with longtime staff and stories about the wonderful jazz greats who performed at this hotel over the years. Some of the staff during the  mid 20th century  included Malcolm X and Ho Chi Min, who worked in the kitchens.

The book also discusses the business aspects of the hotel.  In the chapter called Architecturally Speaking, there are detailed explanations of the transitions and how the hotel evolved and maintained its presence.  There were major changes in operations and styles, with a series of owners over a 50 year period.  Downtown Boston today is very successful for hotels, but hotels were not considered to have a good location downtown in the late 1950s through mid seventies and the Parker House suffered. It did recover with the New England Dunfey family acquisition and management, The Parker House today is an example of exceptional hotel keeping with the Omni name and ownership.

Many grand old hotels today have reputations of ghosts, and the Parker House is no exception.  There are amusing stories of possible sightings from hotel founder Harvey Parker to Charles Dickens. We will have to decide for ourselves if this is fact or fiction.

Pages 105 to 107 lists of dozens of well-known names who enjoyed the hospitality of the Parker House from Mohammed Ali to the Who.

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I began my career as a New England hotelier, working in Vermont and Massachusetts, including at the 1500 room Sheraton Boston.   I worked for the Dunfey Hotels when they owned the Parker House and was interviewed for the #2 manager position.   A crisis at the Dunfey Hotel I was managing in Atlanta prevented that transfer, but I do recall the elegance and history of this fine hotel.  I would have enjoyed being part of the history of this fine hotel.

The title of the book is Heaven, By Hotel Standards, and it is certainly an interesting snapshot of successful and innovative Boston hotel keeping over three centuries

Strongly recommended.

John J Hogan CHA CMHS CHE CHO

HospitalityEducators
Hogan Hospitality

Success does not come by accident or chance.

Contact us for assistance.

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Kathleen Hogan Ireland Sept 2013John J. Hogan CHA CHE CHO and Kathleen Hogan  MBA CHO are the  co-founders of  HospitalityEducators.com, which was created in 2010 to be a resource for hotel owners and professionals as they sought to improve market share, occupancy, operational efficiency and profitability.

The husband and wife team are transitioning the original membership site concept and evolving the business model today to a focused resource offering consulting, training, and individualized support to both hospitality and other service businesses.   Services include keynote addresses workshops, online support, metrics measurement, marketing and customer service from a group of more than a dozen experienced professionals.   While continuing to serve hospitality, the demand for these types of services is growing and can be personalized.

John Hogan is also the principal of HoganHospitality.com, which provides a range of expert professional services for hotel owners, including professional development for organizations, training, consulting and expert witness services.

John Hogan Sept 2013DSCN0215

Contact information:  Kathleen Hogan  480-436-0283,

John Hogan

602-799-5375 or service@hospitalityeducators.com

Workshops Available include: 

From the Chalkboard to the Front Line

What They Don’t Teach You at Hotel School

Focus:

  • Hotel Profitability
  • Hotel Sales
  • Marketing Ideas
  • Hotel Operations

There will always be an ongoing debate on the comparative merits of experience versus the knowledge acquired in formal educational settings.   The best lessons anyone can learn from hotel schools include an awareness of what really occurs on the front line in the actual hospitality setting.  This keynote transitions the academic message to the real world of running a profitable hospitality business.

 Click    here   for Keynotes and Workshops Available 

The Heart of Hospitality Remains Service | A Reminder to us all from HospitalityEducators.com

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The Heart of Hospitality Remains Service

by  John J. Hogan, CHA, CHE, CMHS CHO

Co-Founder HospitalityEducators.com and Principal of HoganHospitality.com

Hospitality and tourism arguably make up the world’s largest industry. They play a major role in the world economy and  contribute significant revenues and net wealth to many countries. When we think about it, we recognize that many components of hospitality are based heavily on the personal, “high touch” side of life.

It was a number of years ago that I first learned anything about hotels and hospitality when a high school friend’s family bought a seasonal resort. That family did not remain in the industry, but I learned from another family of hoteliers in that same location about the many disciplines in hospitality.

In our careers, we understand that the need to learn purchasing protocols, how to interpret and anticipate market trends, and keeping current with legal and safety requirements is essential. We recognize that we must evolve with technology, that we must address revenue management, and provide meaningful training to our staff if we expect them to meet the expectations of guests in our facilities.

The hotel industry has evolved significantly in many aspects during the past 20 years. Energy awareness and sustainability are now essential factors in both construction and ongoing operations. Purchasing, design, event planning and sales have changed dramatically. Innovations in culinary offerings have extended to creatively serve groups of all sizes in restaurants, conference centers and banquet events. Entertainment options in clubs, pubs and arenas have grown enormously, as has the need to be more attentive to security in a changing world.

The physical buildings have evolved and range from mega-hotels with casinos in certain markets to bed and breakfasts in communities of all sizes. There are now properties of all sizes and configurations at airports, in mixed use buildings, attached to convention halls, on converted ships, in secondary and tertiary cities and many other conversions and forms.

These hospitality offerings and hotels today are owned and managed by a wide array of groups, ranging from individuals to multinational corporations, Real Estate Investment Trusts and single industry companies of all sizes. Many are franchised; some are managed by individuals, some by third parties and others by family units. Properties can range from a ten-room country inn to a 2,000-room property on the ocean or in a city center attached to a municipal convention center.

While much has changed in hospitality, on reflection we still note that the experience element of hospitality depends not on the size or ownership of a hotel or restaurant, but on the personal, “high touch” delivery individually provided by hospitality staff to guests – one on one.

I recall somewhat “bragging” to the founding partners of the family business mentioned earlier how much I was learning at the large multinational hotel company that had hired me out of hotel school into a management training program in their 1500-room flagship hotel. They smiled and said that I could learn from the major companies how to follow the large company rules and be part of a major corporation, but I probably would not learn how to be a host or a real innkeeper profitably. Those skills and competencies would be developed through time and hands-on experience. I gained what I felt were incredibly important perspectives and experiences in those seasons and something else that I feel I did not learn at university or at big corporate hotels, either. That something was the need to apply innkeeper and host common sense to formulas, percentages, calculations and protocols.

Many brands today have customer service programs and some are quite good in their advertising value and in general guest satisfaction. Those programs may or may not exceed the guest’s expectations or hopes and that is why it is so critical for hospitality associates to truly “care” about their guests. It remains up to each individual hotel associate to deliver that exceptional “one-on-one” experience.

There is not one single, guaranteed way to deliver service.

  • There are many private companies, such as ours  HospitalityEducators.com and HoganHospitality.com that have unique programs already developed and ready to customize.
  • A good percentage of the major brands have different types of customer service templates and programs.
  • The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute has a guest service training program, The Guest Service Gold Program,  that shows employees and properties how to achieve a new standard of exceptional service based on emotionally engaging with guests in memorable ways.

Choose the approach or program that works for you, but remember that it is service that builds loyalty and that loyalty is what leads to long term success! 

John J. Hogan   CHA CHMS CHE CHO

Hospitality Educators                 Hogan Hospitality

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 John J. Hogan CHA CMHS CHE CHO and Kathleen Hogan MBA CHO are the co-founders of HospitalityEducators.com, which was created in 2010 to be a resource for hotel owners and professionals as they sought to improve market share,occupancy, operational efficiency and profitability.

Kathleen Hogan Ireland Sept 2013Dr. John Hogan CHA CHE CHMS CHO

The husband and wife team are transitioning the original membership site concept and evolving the business model today to a focused resource offering consulting, training, and individualized support to both hospitality and other service businesses.   Services include keynote addresses workshops, online support, metrics measurement, marketing and customer service from a group of more than a dozen experienced professionals.   While continuing to serve hospitality, the demand for these types of services is growing and can be personalized.

John Hogan is also the principal of HoganHospitality.com, which provides a range of expert professional services for hotel owners, including professional development for organizations, training, consulting and expert witness services.

Contact information:  Kathleen Hogan  480-436-0283, John Hogan 602-799-5375 or  service@hospitalityeducators.com

Click here for Keynotes and Workshops Available 

HospitalityEducators.com discussesThe Changing Landscape in Global Hospitality Education and Training with Dr. Marc Clark, CHA CHO CHE

 HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS

with Dr. Marc Clark, CHA CHO CHE  By Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA MHS

 The Changing Landscape in Global Hospitality Education and Training

The economic forecasts remain mixed, but the overall message shared in many publications, news stories and online services implies a more optimistic outlook in hospitality and the hotel industry in the foreseeable future. This positive upswing will mean the need for both additional staff and increased training in evolving markets.

In this series of “HOW TO” columns titled HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS, I chose a topic that is of universal interest to all hotel managers, human resource professionals and associates themselves :

How To Provide Training and Professional Development that positively hits the target of engaging staff in meaningful programs while providing measurable results.

For this topic, I contacted a well-known professional in the industry, Dr. Marc Clark, CHA CHO CHE of Kentucky. Clark is a hospitality veteran of more than three decades, with a strong reputation as a corporate educator. In his career, he has conducted over 3,400 domestic and international seminars in such locations as Mexico, Canada, Panama, Thailand, Taiwan, India, Switzerland, Spain, Africa, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

We are all aware of the dramatic changes in both our customers and staff, as the global shift in travel and employment opportunities continues to evolve. With that in mind, I asked the following questions about adult learners:

QUESTION 1: What different teaching styles and practices might you use today when you are lecturing in India compared with Switzerland ?

  •  My teaching/educating style and practices today are similar, whether I am presenting to a group of hospitality students in Anand-Gujarat, India or an assembly of university faculty members in Leysin, Switzerland. Success with these groups evolves from the adult learning conditions that are set into practice to aid in the learning process.
  •  I support open discussion.
  •  I believe that participants in any educational gathering should be allowed to intellectually challenge, discuss and question ideas, methods, and issues that have been brought forward. Such dialogue takes learning beyond the basic level of retention of information and brings participants into higher levels of thought. It is statistically proven that the greater an individual’s involvement is during the learning process, the better their understanding, retention and transfer of information occurs.
  • Understanding how people learn is also critical to the learning process.

People learn in different ways. There are visual learners who learn by seeing, auditory learners who learn by hearing and tactile-kinesthetic learners who learn by doing.

Taking time to research facts about a group that I will be spending time with aids me in selecting the proper method or methods and support media that will be used in presenting content.

I do believe that the learning experience should be up-beat, informative, engaging, relevant and connected to real issues. There must be practical issues in which the learning can be applied.

Teaching and learning is a two way street, that when traveled should be fun no matter what direction you are moving.

QUESTION 2: You have been the team leader for training programs at such diverse organizations as Ponderosa Steakhouses and Opryland Hotel. How are adult learners different from the students of 20 years ago?

  1.  First is the realization that the world has radically changed. Technology has seen to that, as has the social scene. Attitudinal differences between generations are somewhat startling. It is no longer possible to think workers have the same approach to living, working or learning as those who came before them.
  2. The adult learner today is becoming more tech-savvy simply because it has become a survival technique. Individuals are in some way, shape or form connected 24/7 via a mobile device or a PC. Social media tools such as wikis, blogs, and social networks provide immeasurable opportunities to connect and expand their horizons.
  3. I believe that today’s learners differ from the traditional learner of two decades ago in the following ways:

• They are inundated by massive amounts of information coming in from many sources.

• They parallel process and are skilled multi-taskers.

• Attention spans are shorter so learners prefer bite-size chunks of content to deal with and process.

• They seek relevant information that can be applied immediately (prefer to learn “just-in-the- nick-of-time)

• Collaborating, sharing and exchanging ideas with others are important. Creates a sense of community.

• Enjoy learning through fun (games, simulations, interactive activities).

• These form an environment of discovery.

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“The least of learning is done in the classroom.” Thomas Merton,[1] (1915-1968)

[1] 20th century American writer, who was a poet, social activist and student of comparative religion. A monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, he wrote more than 70 books and scores of essays and reviews. He was was also featured in National Review’s list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century

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Dr. Clark , CHA  CHO  CHE (smartbizzonline.com)  is the author of SMART MANAGEMENT and The Manager’s Toolkit: 61 Building Blocks for Success and he serves as a Senior Advisor for GATE Hospitality University in Katmandu, Nepal. The American Hotel & Lodging Association presented Dr. Clark with its prestigious Lamp of Knowledge Award, identifying him as an outstanding national educator and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association awarded Dr. Clark the Certified Hotel Owners (CHO) designation.

  • He has published over 300 managerial articles on such topics as human resources, organizational development, training & education, soft skills development, sales & marketing, hotel operations, and customer service.
  • He was the first recipient of the National Career Achievement in Human Resources Training Award, and received the Distinguished Public Service Award from the State of Tennessee for contributions to the area of hospitality/service training. He holds the designations of Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA), Certified Human Resources Executive (CHRE) and Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE) from the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
  • Dr. Clark is a Founding Associate of HospitalityEducators.com,  a consortium of successful corporate and academic mentors delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing the hospitality industry. Services are designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.

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 Keys to Success Hospitality Tip of the Week: Focus on Hotel Service

Cross-train at least one person in another department next week. This will communicate your commitment to the development of the individual, who will appreciate the recognition. It will also help at least two departments in staffing and quality delivery. This is essential in these times of tight budgets and high customer expectations.

KEYS TO SUCCESS is the umbrella title for my programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings focus on a wide variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my “HOW TO” articles, and a number of HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS.

Feel free to share an idea for a column at info@hoganhospitality.com anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements ………….

And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

Autographed copies of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES are available from THE ROOMS CHRONICLE http://www.roomschronicle.com, and other industry sources.

All rights reserved by John Hogan and this column may be included in an upcoming book on hotel management. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication

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.

Consulting Expertise and Research Interest

  1.  Professional Development for the Organization and the Individual
  2. Sales Management and training
  3. Turn-around and revenue management
  4.  Customer Service
  5. Making Cultural Diversity Real
  6. Developing Academic Hospitality programs
  7. Medical Lodging Consultants

If you need assistance in any of these areas or simply an independent review or opinion on a hospitality challenge, contact me directly for a prompt response and very personalized attention.

www.HoganHospitality.com

Your Hospitality Resource for Hotel Owners, Innkeepers, Managers and Associations