Welcome to our GM Spotlight Series! This is an opportunity for you to meet the rockstars playing the hits at our various hotels throughout the western United States. Here’s a few insightful questions aimed at revealing just how we pull off our Mission: ‘Crafting inspired workplaces that deliver kick-ass guest experiences, maximizing investor returns’.

Introducing: Hector Becerra at our Holiday Inn Hotel – Ontario Airport, CA

By Alison Sansone, VP of Marketing and Communications

Taking over a hotel from a prior ownership or management group brings a long list of checkpoints. Implementing systemic change and applying best practices must follow a period of assessment in order to identify the ‘ground zero’ or starting point.

In this case, Hector’s benchmark presented that optimistic opportunity whereby ‘there’s only one way to go: up’. On the one hand, there were bathrooms without flooring, rooms without any furniture and over-flowing septic tanks; as a consequence, there was a lack of morale and pride from the hotel team.

As the one year anniversary hit for our first Holiday Inn in our portfolio last month – the Holiday Inn Ontario Airport, we sat down with Hector Becerra to get a feel for the leadership that has successfully overcome daily revenue losses and ignited a spirit of service.

How did you get bit by the hospitality bug – tell us the brief story about your first hospitality/hotel job?
It was really accidental. In college I picked up a job to earn money as a part-time banquet waiter. Then from there, I ended up doing odd jobs at a resort in Palm Springs (Riviera), which led to greater responsibility as banquet captain and then assistant F&B manager within a span of six months to one year.

I realized a greater opportunity in hospitality and began studies in that field, moving into a role at the front desk, then eventually rooms director of a 500 room hotel. My GM at the time left and started his own hotel and offered me my first GM position. It was a unique challenge as the hotel included condos, so in addition to overnight guest service I had to learn residence relations as a different type of ‘owner’. That experience has made just about every other position a cake walk in comparison.

Hector Becerra - Holiday Inn Ontario - Twenty Four Seven Hotels

What’s the best comment you ever received from a guest?
How they enjoy seeing me work alongside my employees. I’ve received favorable comments about how I handled complaints, I typically defer to the guest’s needs/request in any situation.

Tell us one particular thing you’re doing right now to improve your guest service [score]s:
Philosophically, anyone is empowered to make a decision to resolve issues – with training and leading by example. Don’t wait to resolve a situation! The guest is only going to get more angry.

As far as tools, we’re focused on better facilitating communication through the Quore mobile app. Getting all departments to communicate more frequently is key. People are intimidated by technology, but often times you are relying on another department to help resolve a guest situation and this tool makes the resolution more efficient.

So I push empowerment in our guest service training and provide them with a communication tool, leaving them with very little standing in their way to follow through and meet the guest’s needs.

“Hector has weathered many challenges over the past year – most having to do with the physical condition of the hotel. His strength is in rallying his people to #MakeItBetter, and with that focus, his results are now showing.”
~JOHN BLEM, VP of OPERATIONS

So what’s your secret/tricks/tips for ‘minding the middle’ when it comes to the juggling act of your budget while keeping both guests and associates happy?
The majority of ‘fires’ are put out with just a simple, genuine apology. A simple drink or breakfast coupon is a quick fix that doesn’t break the bank. Our guest service best practices don’t tend to impact our budget and employee satisfaction is linked to the empowerment approach to their duties.

Choose your management style: 1. Iron Man/Tony Stark, 2. Mother Theresa, or 3. Bill Murray
Probably Bill Murray, if you ask my employees. Sometimes I have to catch myself because we can focus too much on fun – I like a happy atmosphere. Business is first but you gain more ground with happiness and a good relationship with your employees. Treat them with respect and they’ll respect their jobs. When people are happy, the productivity is a lot higher – studies prove it time and time again.

 

“While it may have seemed like a sinking ship, Hector is an effective and inspiring captain and built a great team to help resolve a long list of issues – with the end in mind. Can’t wait to see what he does in his second year at the helm.”
~JOE KUHN, REGIONAL DIR. OF OPERATIONS

Tell us about your daily stand-up routine? Group huddles? Dance party? Start with a joke?
I always expect standup to include laughter and humor. Often times it just happens naturally through inside jokes that can loosen the crowd. Everyone has their daily duties but there’s always room for a giggle to start off the day.

If you were moving up the ranks and training your replacement, what are some words of wisdom you’d bestow for being a successful hotel GM?
Always have an open mind when it comes to employee relationships, guest relationships, and business. Never be negative – start with at the positives.

 

Hector Becerra - Holiday Inn Ontario - Twenty Four Seven Hotels
RAPID FIRE ROUND:

Beatles or Stones? Beatles

Nickname growing up? Birdy

Is your Netflix account Streaming or DVDs? Streaming

Favorite sandwich? BLT

One part of your morning routine you can’t live without… COFFEE.

Words of wisdom you’d give to your 16 year old self? Study, study, study, study. I took the path to success in a loop – high school I was having fun and didn’t take education seriously until young adulthood.

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