Answer the phone!
One of my pet peeves is to be in a hotel lobby and to hear a phone ringing numerous times. When I was the Resident Manager of the Sheraton Four Ambassadors Hotel in Miami, I used to remind our desk staff that the guest who was standing in front of them could tell if they were busy but the person on the phone couldn’t. After several rings the guest on the phone is left to assume that we are either too busy, poorly trained or just not interested in their business.
As you will recall, Richard Nixon won the Presidential election in 1972. While he was in office, his “Summer White House” was located on Key Biscayne just over the Biscayne Causeway Bridge east of the Sheraton Four Ambassadors Hotel and the city of Miami. Whenever President Nixon visited Key Biscayne, members of the Secret Service, FBI, White House Press Corps and other dignitaries would stay at our hotel. The typical room block request was between 125 and 150 rooms. As you can imagine, it took no small effort to coordinate the arrangement of accommodations for everyone involved. A tremendous behind the scenes coordination effort was put forth by the advance team of the White House as well as the hotel staff. This included the selection of specific highly trained staff members who underwent frequent background checks and screening prior to each official visit.
The coordination of arrangements, some of which included the blocking of parking, meeting and banquet space, special food selection and preparation, pre-blocking of room accommodations and numerous security related issues were time consuming and required intense diligence. In order to help facilitate the process, a specially designated phone was installed in the hotel with a direct line to the White House. The phone sat atop my desk and was the topic of many interesting conversations amongst my staff. Some of them would stand at my door and stare at the phone as if it was an antique Cuckoo Clock about to engage in its mid-day chime. I have to admit that things got pretty exciting around the hotel when that phone rang.
A specially trained and pre-screened staff was designated to service the needs and requests of the foreign Heads of State and other dignitaries. During my four year stint as Resident Manager of the Sheraton Four Ambassadors hotel, we hosted Presidents, Governors, Senators, Congressmen, Kings, Queens, Princes, Foreign Ambassadors, Movie Stars, Rock Stars, Sports Stars, famous singers, entertainers, bands, the Secret Service, the FBI, military officials and other dignitaries from all around the world. It was an “all hands on deck” occurrence whenever “the phone” rang. I’ll never forget those words, “Mr. Cerrone, it’s the White House calling”.
For those of you who are reading this and are in the hotel business, think about this. What other business could you be in that would offer a similar mix of famous and interesting people that we get to host on a daily basis. Wow, just answer the phone!
[The Miami Chapter….to be continued]
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