13 Sep Welcome to our new contributor – Rebekah J Fishel
Today I get to introduce you to the first new contributor to the Chocolate Pillow site – Rebekah J Fishel. Rebekah is a hospitality success story, and a passionate individual with a true understanding of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the industry. She took some time out to speak to us and let you know all about her!
So Rebekah, tell us all about you and what your history in the industry is!
I started out in the hotel industry back in 2001. I decided which hotels I would prefer to work and set out on a job search within those specific hotel brands. I was very strategic in what I did because I wanted to learn everything possible about the hotel industry. Certain brands offer a higher level of service and I wanted to be associated with that. I started out in housekeeping. Those were some of the cleanest rooms you would ever find. I promise you that. I talked to guests in the hallways. I listened to their chatter when they were waiting for the elevator. What did they like about the hotel? What did they wish was different? I talked to other employees from all departments and learned what I could from them. Within a short time I was asked to cross train for the front desk. That evolved into night audit. I learned about guests and how to interact with them from all types of job positions at a hotel. I took a break from the hotel industry and changed careers. I moved into the medical-legal field. I eventually came full circle and realized the truth. If you are meant to be in the hotel industry and really enjoy it, you will return somehow because it is pretty much in your DNA. It is definitely in mine! I later took on a part-time job at a local hotel to make extra money. I decided there was no good reason for the rooms not to be rented each night when other hotels in the area were doing well. Within a short time, things started turning around on the weekends I worked. I took on more shifts and more responsibilities until I finally just jumped in and changed careers..back to where I belong. Guests started returning and quickly became loyal guests. That particular hotel ended up consistently being in the top 10 of their national brand. They went from having to attend training classes for properties showing poor performance, to being invited to share their success story at those same seminars. I also went on to experience success in management at another hotel that was desperately needing help. Sad to say, once I left that hotel, the owners resorted back to a poorly run hotel. Very sad, indeed. Now my burning passion is geared towards reaching out to other hotel owners/managers and employees so they can experience success as well.
Tell us about your blog
Secrets Of A Thriving Hotel is a blog totally devoted to what makes a hotel successful and a great place to work. All types of hotels will benefit from this blog because there are common elements of excellent guest service and business practices necessary for any hotel to do well in this industry. Hotel employees can learn more about their industry while learning valuable skills for their profession. Guest service will always be required in our industry regardless of how advanced we become with technology. This blog is a great place to discover additional training and tools for anyone in the hotel industry.
- What inspired you to start your blog?Several things occurred prior to me becoming a blogger for the hospitality industry. Both served as inspiration to share my thoughts, experience and relevant industry tools for hotel owners, managers and other industry professionals. The first thing that happened – I took on a weekend part-time job at a local hotel to supplement my income. I already had previous hotel experience. The hotel was not doing that well in regards to rooms sold each night. Initially, I spent most of my time twiddling my thumbs, staring out into the lobby…and thinking…and looking online for articles and blogs relating to the hotel industry. It also provided extra time to chat with guests, which they liked very much. The hotel lobby and front desk eventually became the place to hang out. Guests enjoyed the friendliness and relaxed (almost community-like) atmosphere they experienced with other guests. In the midst of those casual chats, several guests suggested I write a blog to share my thoughts and ideas. Not only did that hotel become successful, but I went on to have success in hotel management as well. That is how my blog began. I wanted to focus on what it takes to be a successful, thriving hotel, not just one where employees sit around and twiddle their thumbs.
- What annoys you most when you go to a hotel? Lack of eye contact, friendliness and efficiency – most annoying. I cannot imagine why anyone working in the hotel industry would want to wear a bored expression on their face all the time and mumble words you can hardly understand. Speak up! Be confident! Show some passion for what you do and do your job well. Be nice and helpful..I promise it will not take more energy..make sure I know how to get to my room from the lobby. Pointing randomly up to the ceiling does not count!
- If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?If I could change anything about the industry as it is right now, I would definitely like to see more ongoing training for every single employee, including managers. We need more consistency across the board. A recent report in USAToday revealed that guest satisfaction scores for hotels (US) are the lowest they have been in 7 years. We obviously need improvement in this area.
- What is your ideal hotel experience?I think we all like to be recognized by our name, but more importantly I simply want to feel ‘welcome’ at a hotel. When I check-in I would like to be greeted with a warm genuine smile and some form of interaction beyond the typical check-in process. That stands out to me. I appreciate guest service following up to see if I need anything once I check-in but honestly, like most guests, I do not want to be bombarded with lots of activity. I especially enjoy peace and quiet. With that being said, I would hope there would not be a lot of issues to have to deal with regarding the hotel. I simply want to enjoy my room and space. If I need assistance for dinner choices or spa recommendations, I would hope that the front desk would be knowledgable enough to give several good recommendations. An ideal experience would also make sure my bill was correct. As a guest you want to spend the night not spend time on the phone with your credit card company to have charges reversed. In a nutshell my ideal experience would involve every department knowing their job and carrying it out with warm genuine hospitality. And please do not leave any reminder in the room of a former guest. Make sure it is clean and ready for me. Cleanliness, friendliness and a little something extra to make my stay memorable is a totally ideal experience.
- Who would you say most inspires you in the hospitality industry?Besides all the interesting guests that make every single day a wonderful experience at the hotel, I am most inspired by other hotel industry visionaries that started out with little more than a passion for excellent service and a keen mind for business. JW Marriott is just one example of this type of hotel entrepreneur. There are many more like him. Other professionals (both hotel owners and the employees that work at the property level) that consistently strive to provide the best guest service possible also inspire me. Their excitement and passion make me excited to be part of this industry too. But it all comes back to the guest. Without them, we would not even have a hotel industry. They ultimately inspire me every single day. (sigh..even the most difficult ones.)
- Luxury boutique townhouse hotel or country spa?I would have to say Luxury boutique hotel simply because I already live out in the country and get to enjoy the beauty all around me every single day. The drive home from work is so relaxing and the mountains of North Carolina provide a daily spectacular view. A luxury boutique hotel would be a perfect way to change things up for a get-away weekend.
- Camping or glamping?Camping!!! Go all out or not at all, right. What can I say, I have two sons. I’ll save the glamping for when I’m old and cannot get back up from sleeping on the ground. Not quite there yet.
- Expensive hotel or budget bargain?Having stayed at both types AND having worked at both types of hotels, I would have to say that a budget bargain can be a bit risky. I guess it would depend on what type of trip I am taking and what type of adventure I am up for. Although it seems at some of the budget friendly hotels you get more personable service, I would more than likely be willing to pay a little more and guarantee a better experience.
Watch out for Rebekah J. Fishel and her new articles that will soon be appearing – why not pop over to her blog and read some more too?
Secrets of a Thriving Hotel – a blog that we are proud to link to![/box]