Do You Know Any Hospitality Superstars?

by Janis on July 11, 2010

hospitality superstars

Ferdinand Basa, right, of Holland America Line is a hospitality superstar.

Recently I arrived into the Kansas City airport after 38 hours of flying from Singapore.

My journey included five flights through four connecting airports in three different countries on three different airlines. (Did I mention my ticket was a frequent flier reward?)

When I got into Kansas City, exhausted and barely coherent, I went to the baggage claim, doubting my bags were there, since a flight delay had caused me to be re-routed onto a different San Francisco to Denver flight. I just wanted to get home.

Off to the baggage service office I trudged to start the missing bag claim process.

I handed my bag tags to Juanita who was working the United Baggage Claim counter.

Oh, I’ve been monitoring your bags, and I don’t believe they are on this flight,” Juanita said. “I’ve already filled out a claim form for you. Can you describe what the bags look like? Then I will finish the claim, you can be on your way, and we will deliver your bags tomorrow.“

Suddenly, I wasn’t exhausted anymore. What a surprise.

Juanita Gemmer, I learned later when I asked her name, had already anticipated my problem, and was proactively solving it, all before I had even raised the issue.

This was one of those traveling experiences that make one stop, pause, and say to themselves, “did that really just happen? Wow!“

Hospitality superstars like Juanita Gemmer do not just do their jobs. They are passionate. They go the extra mile. They obviously care about making customers have a positive experience, even when dealing with less-than-positive situations or people.

Whether you travel weekly or even just once in a while, you quickly realize that the best hotels, restaurants, airlines, cruise lines and other travel and hospitality companies are the ones best able to get their customer-facing employees to be hospitality superstar rather than “I hate-my-job-and-this-company-and-it’s-not-my-fault-and-I-don’t-care” liabilities. It is seemingly little acts – positive, proactive, and problem-solving – that make hospitality superstars.

Hospitality superstars are out there in every company – and they don’t get recognized or rewarded nearly as often as they hear complaints.

So let’s change that. Who’s on your list?

Here is Our List of some Hospitality Superstars that We’ve Encountered Recently

  • Juanita Gemmer in Baggage Services at Kansas United Airlines
  • Ann B, a waitress at the lobby bar in the Raleigh-Durham Airport Hilton Hotel in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina who can handle a bar rush and still deliver personalized, attentive service.
  • Daniel, with Holiday Inn’s Priority Club customer service call center, who found our profile and number, for an account was last used and tracked four addresses ago.
  • United Captain Molly Flanagan, who in addition to flying a smooth and early-arriving flight from Chicago to Anchorage, wrote personal notes of thanks on the back of her business card to each 1st class customer for choosing United for the trip.
  • Ferdinand Basa, Cellar Master on Holland America Line, who delivers lead superior wine service no matter what ship he’s on, or what team of wine staff he’s leading. Plus, he does that cool sabrage demonstration during his wine-tasting classes.
  • Kok Sing, our waiter at the Straits Kitchen at Singapore Grand Hyatt hotel, who’s passion is making sure every guest enjoys their meal.
  • The entire business class flight crew of Thai Airlines flight 795 on June 17th. How can anyone be that pleasant and hospitable for 16 hours?

These are just a few of the people that have not only made our travels a bit more enjoyable, but who have made us say “Wow!” They are hospitality superstars.

Other frequent travelers likely have their favorite examples. Social media consultant Jay Baer blogs about his experience with US Airways flight attendant Randy Lauson, who we’d rate as a hospitality superstar.

Thank you note from United Airlines Captain Molly Flanagan.

Thank you note from United Airlines Captain Molly Flanagan.

Who is your hospitality superstar? If you don’t know any, well, it’s time to start looking for them. We are convinced they are in every company – if that company is going to stay in business. And despite all of the employee commendation programs, many are still more likely to hear complaints than praise.

So let’s change that. Who’s on your list? Or perhaps, do you need to consider changing the hospitality brands that you frequent?

We look forward to your comments? Please post your hospitality superstars.

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