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: TJ Gibson at our SpringHill Suites Boise, ID

By Alison Sansone, VP of Marketing and Communications

TJ is a very unassuming leader, as the results of his efforts seem to magically appear in his hotel’s financial reporting and on the smiling faces of his team. If you show up at the SpringHill Suites in Boise to meet with him, you may have to wait a few minutes for his staff to find him as he’s likely off tending to some far off corner of his property with his cuffs unbuttoned. A true people-pleaser, we’re lucky that he stumbled upon his hospitality career during one particular summer job, long ago.

How did you get bit by the hospitality bug – tell us the brief story about your first hospitality/hotel job?

While in high school, I was looking for job and my sister was a GM of a Fairfield Inn in Boise. I helped out during the summer, during those months when you’re typically short staffed; which meant that I filled in in whatever department needed me for about a year.

I didn’t expect to be in hotels fulltime but soon realized this was actually a career calling and the rest is history. It’s a job that has so many changes

What’s the best comment you ever received from a guest as a result of #outrageoushospitality?

Early on in my career, we had an account with the local hospital. There was a VIP doctor staying at the hotel w/their family, during the holiday.

We put them in our biggest suite and my executive housekeeper decorated the suite, including a 10 ft. real Christmas tree. I was able to get information on the colors and style they would like and we bought gifts for the kids. We wanted to make them feel at home – they were actually relocating to Boise, so we gave them a feel for Boise with a small town feel. They were blown away.

Tell us one particular thing you’re doing right now to improve your guest service [score]s:

We’re always trying to be creative… I can see how we get stuck in our day to day routine and believe we need to tune into guest expectations, so I’m always reminding my associates to pay attention. Any special touch we can implement will help make our hotel stand out from our competitor.

One of my associates came to me recently and mentioned that one of our long term guests was leaving. I asked her what we should do to recognize he was leaving and it didn’t occur to her. We sat thinking about it and she came up with two things about the guest that she had observed – his favorite beer and snacks. Being mindful of guest likes and dislikes – especially repeat guests – really pays off.

TJ Gibson-SpringHill-Suites-Boise-AAW4“What makes TJ one of our more successful GMs is his mastery of tools and systems and his equal focus on leading his people. Conscientious of his responsibility, TJ is often found “out of the office” but in the halls of his hotel.  Leading his team thru great months and challenging months, TJ keeps it real and lively for both guests and associates.”
~Joe Kuhn, Regional Director of Operations

 

 

 

So what’s your secret/tricks/tips for ‘minding the middle’ of your budget, when it comes to the juggling act of keeping both guests and associates happy?

Generally just looking at where the expenses go and understanding whether it’s a good idea to spend it or not. Constantly. Just looking at where we can trim or fortify an area of the hotel without negatively impacting guests.

Gold platinum member gifts can sometimes get out of hand. We made minor proactive changes there by shopping at Costco and not only found cost savings but happier guests.

Choose your management style: 1. Iron Man/Tony Stark, 2. Mother Theresa, or 3. Bill Murray
Bill Murray.

My hotel career has brought a lot of management experiences that weren’t always fun – sometimes it can feel like one problem after another. I learned this pretty early on and by having a sense of humor it makes it easier to accept in the daily grind.

At some point I just figured if this is my career then I have the power to have fun in it. I also want to teach my employees that attitude – and don’t want my family to hear about my day in a negative frame of mind. So I take the problems or issues on with a smile or humor. I think associates perceive me as more approachable and as a result they feel supported; humor gives me a way of communicating, even in challenging times.

“One visit to his property I could tell he is the “maestro“ of the SpringHill Suites Boise symphony. ”
~Joe Kuhn, 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?

Definitley make ’em start the day with a laugh. If you’re short staffed and approaching burnout, then humor really helps. Standup can be dreaded and I want to make sure it’s a positive and productive experience.

We’ve got it to the point that our staff is smiling before we even get started. It loosens up the dynamic, we get to know each other this way. Service topics are a part of it, but we always incorporate jokes.

The way I see it, standups are there to set the tone for the day. If they walk straight out to the lobby after standup and they’re laughing, then they’re more likely to pass along that positivity to the guest. Everyone will now try to bring a joke and inject their own humor.

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?

Twenty Four Seven Hotels 2018 Award winner TJ Gibson-8312I remember the first year in the business was tough, taking on the wide range of usual challenges and working long hours. So I would tell them there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Always remember those short staffed days will be ahead, but what you do on those days really do matter to the success of your hotel. They don’t have to feel like setbacks.

Get your team on board with your approach and it will get better. And I would tell them that opening up to your peers and reaching out for help is really important, too.

At Twenty Four Seven, I think we do that well. Whether it’s the monthly GM forum calls or the annual GM Summit, we learn about each other and know who to call for specific issues you’re tackling at your hotel.

What qualities do you look for when hiring for your team?
First it depends on the rest of my team and which dept I’m hiring for.

Making sure they mesh with the team dynamic/team personality. If it’s a manager, I want to know that they will fit with the other managers. I’m looking for an open communication style of management.

Then making sure that they are guest-focused, not the type to be in their office all the time. I’m looking for managers that want to be in hospitality, rather than someone good at managing tasks.

Come Together Desert Sessions 2018

RAPID FIRE ROUND:

Beatles or Stones? Stones
Nickname growing up? TJ
Is your Netflix account Streaming or DVDs? I don’t have a Netflix account.
Favorite sandwich? Club w/ everything but tomatoes
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? Don’t worry so much about starting your career so early. Have fun with your job experience. You have the rest of your life to ‘work’.

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