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Partner Hotel Spotlight

Tricks of the Trade: Featuring Robert Holmes, General Manager, Hotel Belleclaire

Tricks of the Trade: Featuring Robert Holmes, General Manager, Hotel Belleclaire

Tricks of the Trade: Featuring Robert Holmes, General Manager, Hotel Belleclaire

Partner Hotel Spotlight

Hotel Belleclaire General Manager Robert Holmes caught the hospitality bug early.

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About Robert

Hotel Belleclaire General Manager Robert Holmes caught the hospitality bug early.

While still in high school, he began his hospitality career as a part-time shuttle service driver for the Radisson in Paramus, in his home state of New Jersey (it’s now a Crowne Plaza). He worked his way through the ranks to his current GM position at the Hotel Belleclaire.

After high school, Robert started college as a music major, but internships with Marriott convinced him to switch to hospitality. “It just fit,” he says. Required to graduate with 1,000 hours of hospitality experience, he graduated with a whopping 2,400, such was his passion for the work.

After graduation, Robert enjoyed a quick succession of promotions at hotels across the North-East, which had him in management positions in everything from housekeeping to communications (his first day on the job as a Front Office Manager was on September 11th, 2001 at a hotel in Washington, D.C., one-mile away from the Pentagon) until finally coming full-circle back to New York City as GM at the Hotel Belleclaire.

Robert’s Trade

Like others we’ve talked to in this series, Robert particularly enjoys his interaction with hotel guests. “Guests are oftentimes shocked they’re talking to the GM,” he says.

As General Manager, Robert’s responsible for every facet of hotel operations, which perhaps surprisingly, also includes the not-so-occasional emergency, such as flooding, personal safety and visits by the police.

It’s in these kinds of situations Roberts’ background as a volunteer firefighter has proven especially useful. He recalls a time, just six months ago, when a car crashed in front of the hotel. Robert joined those on the street providing aid and cleaning up the wreckage. One guest later wrote on TripAdvisor she was shocked to see the GM sweeping up glass. “We weren’t doing it for the social media recognition,” he says, “We were just simply assisting as any good citizen would in an emergency situation.”

Robert’s Trick

"Nothing promotes your hotel better than word of mouth advertising, and nothing inspires guests to talk more than one-of-a-kind experiences (these include off-the-beaten-path restaurant recommendations, surprise, personalized dishes presented in-person by the chef, and the occasional rose petal bubble bath)."

"Revenue management is crucial," he says, "but if you have all of your policies and procedures in place then focus on the guest experience."

"If you address the guest by name when they arrive, they light up."

“It’s not always a pleasant surprise. There are times when the guest is extremely unhappy and it’s how you handle the situation that decides whether they stay with you again. As GM, it’s your job is to turn an unfortunate situation into an opportunity to win the guest for life.” Robert’s even got a rubric for doing just this:

  1. listen to the guest,
  2. let them vent.
  3. deflate the situation.
  4. offer to make it right.

“Don’t rush to offer - you’ve got to listen to the guest to know how to really help. This is how you build loyalty. Remember, there will always be a cheaper rate, but loyalty is priceless.”