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: Brandon Jemison at our NEW TownePlace Suites Ontario Chino Hills, CA

By Alison Sansone, VP of Marketing and Communications

Managing a brand new hotel may seem like a breeze – your hotel is in perfect condition; there’s no online reviews to spoil first impressions – the pitch to lure guests away from competitors is an instant sell; a clean slate.

Hardly.

TownePlace Suites by Marriott Ontario-Chino Hills - Twenty Four Seven Hotels - 50

GM Brandon Jemison cuts the ribbon at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott Ontario Chino Hills on October 4th, 2018, with DOS Donna
Soumphonphakdy and Chino Hills Mayor Peter Rogers.

Aside from the juggling act of construction delays and expectations from new sales relationships, followed by the loss of projected revenue with an elusive opening day, the brand expectations are possibly higher for a new-build; and training your staff to serve remains a critical part of managing even the shiniest of assets.

Meet Brandon, who started in the 247H Band as FOM, then became AGM and earned the opportunity to take the helm at our new TownePlace Suites Ontario Chino Hills. He’s the poster child of advancement in our company, truly delivering on our confidence in him to take responsibility for a new hotel asset and a new hotel owner/client at the same time.

Stakes are high and it appears we have a ringer.

How did you get bit by the hospitality bug – tell us the brief story about your first hospitality/hotel job?
I was going to college at the time, I had a friend that mentioned a hotel job as a night auditor. My thought was that it would enable me to do my homework during pockets of quiet time on my shift… I didn’t want to work in a job that impacted my school schedule.

The hospitality aspect hit me when helping out some guests visiting from Australia. They had no plans and I became a concierge for them, making suggestions and filling up their itinerary. At the end of the stay they asked to take a picture with me, they felt I was family.

I discovered the value in making a positive impact on someone else’s experience; I understood what a role in hospitality would be like – it’s more than just a job, it’s actually making memories for people.

What’s the best comment you ever received from a guest?

What comes to mind is when I’ve calmed down a guest that was upset.

I was working at a hotel in Anaheim that was in poor condition; everything that could’ve happened to a guest happened to him. He was yelling at me and I started by just asking him to sit, offered coffee and continued to listen.

I found out he was a blogger/writer; I learned a lot about him. He shared that he appreciated my listening. He said I had a very calm disposition in a situation that could’ve been very volatile.

We’ve kept in touch professionally over the years, he even wrote positive comments about me on LinkedIn and became a repeat guest.

I try to instill that quality in my team for problem solving.

Brandon Jemison - Marriott TownePlace Suites Hotel Tour - Chino Hills Mayor Peter Rogers

GM Brandon Jemison shows off the TowneMap to distinguished community guests of the ribbon cutting on October 4th, 2018.

“Brandon is a GM who is committed to his team and who shows grace under pressure….qualities that help define an exceptional leader!”
~John Blem, VP of Operations

Tell us one particular thing you’re doing right now to improve your guest service [score]s:
Everyone is new, so leading by example is my best approach. Jumping into all departments and showing them how to serve, being a strong presence for them in all that we do together.

For much of my team, it’s their first hotel job so I’m trying to be visual and not in my office. It’s the best on-the-job-training in realtime I can give to them.

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?
Opening a hotel is a bit different – I err on the side of ensuring everyone has the tools they need. We are learning a fair amount of things as we go along.

Training is critical to maintaining labor standards. As long as you have tools and effective training, you can manage labor expense.

Choose your management style: 1. Iron Man/Tony Stark, 2. Mother Theresa, or 3. Bill Murray
Little bit of a blend between Bill Murray and Mother Theresa.

Managing people means managing personalities. I approach people in different manners – understanding how my people learn rather than just imposing my style of teaching.

I can be serious when it calls for it, but I believe in the human aspect of work. If people are experiencing an issue at home impacting their ability to work, I want to be comforting while I can still have high expectations with numbers and goals over the long term.

“Brandon is a standard setter! He pays attention to quality and motivates others to think about what being the best means. Brandon sets high standards for his team and helps them to achieve these goals by using a mix of discipline, accountability, and hard work.”
~Joe Deutschman, Regional Director of Operations

Tell us about your daily stand-up routine? Group huddles? Dance party? Start with a joke?
– What’s the most valuable impact/purpose of the stand-up, from your perspective?

It’s different for each team. In housekeeping standup, it’s a bit of music and dancing for MIPP. I see how that energy translates to a positive spirit going into their work day. I’m always showing gratitude for their hard work.

For management stand up at 10am, it’s focused on guest feedback and problem solving; more listening and sharing insights. I know the staff really appreciates when their sharing matters at a proactive approach.

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?

Be involved with everything and every aspect of your business you possibly can. An opportunity to help is an opportunity to learn. Being inclusive. Talk to your staff and let them know what’s going on; everyone that feels like a part of the strategy or decision making will be more engaged in the process and implementation.

RAPID FIRE ROUND:

Beatles or Stones? Beatles
Nickname growing up? Rather not say.
Is your Netflix account Streaming or DVDs? Streaming
Favorite sandwich? Turkey club w/avocado
One part of your morning routine you can’t start your day without… Coffee.
Words of wisdom you’d give to your 16 year old self? Keep doing what you think is right and staying positive.

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