Life on the road, and the importance of hospitality

For my Hospitality Industry friends, stay with this post, I promise, it will be worth your while!

It’s been a year since I added this blog and I miss it. I have written 100 entries, at least, in my head as I drive and fly all over the “Great Northeast”. That’s how I always write, first in my head, then at the keyboard. Since my last post, I have accepted a promotion with my full time job with Cars.com, I am still selling real estate and, of course, writing the Cravings column for HerLife Magazine.

With my new role at Cars.com, I am back to traveling 3-4 nights a week. I will be the first to admit that the transition, while seamless to the outside world, has been personally a little challenging. A few things have changed since the last time I was a road warrior. The last time I was on the road I was in an unhappy relationship and home was not only an unpleasant place to be, but I was overwhelmed with the chores that I faced when I returned home. It’s tough to come home after 5 days on the road to a sink full of dishes, an overflowing clothes hamper and a pile of trash that needed to go out, especially when that’s not how I left it. Add to that snow and ice removal, lawn and pool care with little or no help from my significant other and you can see why I would rather be on the road.

Currently, I am in a three and a half year relationship with an amazing man. I miss him when I’m gone and I can’t wait to see him when I return. I now come home now to a home that is either exactly how I left it or sometimes better! I also now live in an apartment. I truly love where I live. I look around my 1600 square feet and I love everything I see, whether inside or on my patio (where I am right now!) I love to cook in my kitchen, sleep in my bed, sit on my sofa and shower in my bathroom. I also love walking to my favorite restaurants where everyone knows me, and listening to music from artists I know and who are familiar to me.

I am truly happy both professionally and personally for the first time in I can’t remember when. I am blessed. Here’s the twist, because I love my life, my guy and my home, it’s much tougher being on the road than before. Staying in “Hospitality Properties” 14-16 nights a month, the hospitality I experience really is crucial.

This past week, I spent 3 nights in the Residence Inn on Maple Road in Amherst (Buffalo) NY. I booked this hotel by accident. I thought I was booking another Residence Inn nearby. When I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed it was clearly an older property and it was in a residential area so no walking to restaurants or shops. The units all had outside entrances and some of them were up a flight of stairs (there is no way I am carrying my suitcase up those stairs!), I almost didn’t get out of my car! Eventually, I headed to the front desk and let the desk clerk know I booked this hotel by mistake, but told him if my room was on the bottom level, I would stay. The desk clerk was so welcoming. He confirmed I was on the lower level and assured me that they were happy I was staying with them.

I drove around to my suite and was delighted to find a parking spot right outside my door. I moved my things in, hung up my dresses and unpacked the rest. Within 10 minutes, I received a call from the Front Desk asking if my room was to my satisfaction. They also informed me of the social hour from 6- 7:30 that offered complimentary beer, wine and grilled burgers. Before I headed over, I discovered my ice machine was not working.

I arrived at the social hour and was greeted, not just by the food an beverage host, but also by a member of the management team who asked me if it was my first night staying with them. I said yes and she asked if things were as expected in my suite. I said yes, with the exception of the ice machine. She assured me she would send the maintenance team to my suite promptly. By the time I arrived back to my room, not only was the ice machine fixed, but he filled the bin in my refrigerator/freezer with ice while the machine got to work!

This level of hospitality continued throughout my stay. Every team member was genuinely focused on a wonderful guest experience. From the front office team, to the food and beverage team, to the maintenance team, each one greeted me. Each one asked what they could to do help. The most amazing part was that they all seemed genuinely happy to be there and to make their guest’s experience stellar. The best part was that their attitude was contagious. This carried over to the guest’s attitude, because a positive attitude is contagious. The Residence Inn concept hotels are geared to toward extended stays. Some guests are there for weeks or even months at a time. The staff at this hotel made each one feel like they were the most important guest in the hotel. I watched their interactions and every time they made someone smile, their smile widened.

The spirit of hospitality at this property was an example for the industry.

The hotel I booked by mistake, that was, on the outside, a less glamorous hotel from others I have stayed at, won my heart and I will certainly stay there on my return visits. And yes, I made sure to find the GM of the property to let him know of my experience. This type of hospitality comes from the top down. When I told him of my experience, he welled up with tears. That’s when I knew. His team, wanted my stay to perfect because he wanted it to be perfect. They wanted to make me happy, but they wanted to make him proud!

In my professional bio, I proudly say that I am Disney born and Marriott raised. These two hospitality industry giants taught me a lot. I can say with certainty that this hotel embodies hospitality and Bill Marriott would be proud! If you are traveling to Buffalo, stay here Residence Inn Amhurst I know I will!