Introducing the Lobby Ambassador


Hotels rely heavily on guest feedback to get an accurate sense on how successful a job they’re doing in providing all-important customer service. In today’s Internet-driven society, it’s easy for owners and managers to look to brands’ electronic guest satisfaction surveys, not to mention websites like TripAdvisor, Facebook and Google that solicit travelers’ comments, to get a sense of how well they’re performing.

But if the truth be known, these tools are only meaningful up to a point. Not all guests, after all, whether they had a positive stay or found fault with the hotel, will take the time to respond to a guest survey or post a comment on a site that solicits consumer content. By contrast, guest feedback that’s delivered face-to-face in the moment when guests are still on property is much more valuable.

Enter a new on-site staff position: the Lobby Ambassador. Managers have always understood the value of having an associate stationed in the lobby whose job is to circulate among guests—typically in the morning, while they’re having breakfast, in the process of checking out or simply leaving for the day. The task has now been formalized and given a name of its own.

General managers at a number of M&R Hotel Management properties have named a Lobby Ambassador in the past few months with positive results. At one hotel, the same associate fills the role; at other hotels, front desk agents take turns rotating in and out of the position.

The Lobby Ambassadors’ biggest contribution is that they get to resolve any service issues guests may have on the spot. They’re knowledgeable about the operation of the hotel and are empowered by management to turn a guest’s potentially negative experience into a positive.

Best of all, they introduce themselves to the guest and put a personal, friendly, helpful face on the hotel, which when you think about it is at the very heart of the hospitality experience.

M&R Hotel Management Names Manager of LaGuardia Airport Hotel

M&R Hotel Managementeldin-elezovic-9-13-2016-small today announced the appointment of Eldin Elezovic as general manager of the Holiday Inn Express LaGuardia Airport hotel, located on Horace Harding Expressway in Flushing, New York.

Elezovic, a 16-year hospitality industry veteran who has served in hotel management roles in Manhattan as well as Queens, will oversee all aspects of the 84-room hotel’s operations, including sales, marketing, security, maintenance, housekeeping and accounting. An expansion project, currently underway for completion this year, will bring the guest room total to 119.

Elezovic most recently was director of operations at the Flatiron Hotel in Manhattan’s Flatiron district. From 2008 to 2015, he was in charge of a limited-service hotel portfolio at LaGuardia, and served the Crowne Plaza at John F. Kennedy International Airport from 2007 to 2008, first as director of operations and subsequently as assistant general manager.


Holiday Inn Express Laguardia Airport

From 2005 to 2007 he worked at the Radisson Hotel Martinique near Manhattan’s Herald Square, first as director of guest services and then as director of operations. From 2000 to 2005, he was front office manager at the Holiday Inn New York City-Midtown-57th St. hotel, also in Manhattan.

“Eldin’s depth of experience in the New York hotel market, including at hotels at both LaGuardia and Kennedy airports, makes him well qualified to lead the team as general manager at our LaGuardia property,” said Brian M. McSherry, M&R Hotel Management chief operating officer.

Elezovic earned a bachelor’s degree in business management and international business at the City University of New York and is studying for a graduate degree in organizational leadership at Nyack College in New York. He speaks Bosnian, Spanish and Russian in addition to English.

M&R Hotel Management’s portfolio in Queens also includes the 136-room Holiday Inn L.I. City – Manhattan View and four hotels near Kennedy Airport: the 201-room Holiday Inn New York JFK Airport Area, the 128-room Holiday Inn Express New York JFK Airport Area, the 87-room Best Western JFK Airport Hotel and the 73-room Days Inn Jamaica JFK Airport.

M&R Hotel Management also operates four hotels in Manhattan and three in Staten Island. Rounding out the 16-hotel portfolio is a hotel on Long Island in Roslyn, in the Boston suburb of Braintree and a hotel on the Caribbean island of Dominica.

The company’s portfolio includes the brands of InterContinental Hotels Group, Choice Hotels International, Wyndham Hotel Group and Best Western International. Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide also have certified M&R to manage selected brands.


Going the Extra Mile

Gen 4 Lobby Woman Yellow

Every hotel brand has clear and detailed service standards that operators of its hotels are obliged to implement and maintain. Whether these standards pertain to the food served in the breakfast area or on-site restaurant, the way housekeepers make up the guest room and replenish bath amenities or how the front desk make sure the shuttle buses run on time to and from the airport, guests expect that these services will be in place and consistently available each time they check into that hotel. But what about those special requests that require an employee to go above and beyond?

Hotel managers train employees to meet guest expectations when it comes to the basics, and we’re pleased when they perform at that level. Yet guest service goes beyond hotels meeting these prescribed basic standards. Guests are people and, as such, they often have special needs and requirements that can’t be anticipated or even predicted.

Consequently, we’re even prouder when we see associates going out of their way—typically on their own initiative—to honor special requests. There’s nothing in the training manual that requires them to go “above and beyond.” We see such dedication every day and learn more about such exemplary behavior when guests post appreciative comments on TripAdvisor and Google, even remembering to mention the employees by name.

There’s the breakfast room attendant who happily will honor a frazzled parent’s request to heat up a crying baby’s bottle of formula. Or the employee who will hunt up the only kind of muffin a toddler with allergies can eat. There’s the bellman, when asked how to get to a local hospital by non-English-speaking guests visiting a dying relative, not only writes out the directions, but flags down a taxi and makes sure the driver knows the shortest way to go. The timing may not be opportune, but the associate takes the time to do it anyway.

Then there’s the guest relations manager or front desk agent who takes a panicked call from a guest who checked out earlier that day and has realized from the airport that they’ve inadvertently left a difficult-to-replace item behind. It can be a pair of eyeglasses, a prescription, an earring or a child’s beloved stuffed animal.

Sure enough, the associate returns to the guest room and locates the left-behind item. But then the employee goes the extra mile, has the item wrapped and shipped overnight to the guest’s home.

Extra towels? Wake-up calls? Those requests are easy. It’s the special ones that illustrate the true spirit of hospitality our industry is all about.

Guest Feedback Takes Many Forms

We all know the old adage, “the consumer is always right.” In today’s digital world, it can be said with certainty that the consumer is always heard. Whether their feedback is positive or negative, there is always an outlet for their voice.

Days Inn Jamaica JFK Airport

TripAdvisor has become top of mind for travelers looking to provide input on the quality of their hotel stay, whatever the nature of their critique. Consequently, hotel owners and managers take TripAdvisor guest comments seriously and are quick to respond ─ with appreciation when the feedback is positive and, when the guest has found fault, to outline the steps they’re taking to correct the situation.

The same applies to comments left on Google, online travel agent sites like Expedia and on some hotel brands’ own websites. Critiques left on the brand website, in fact, have replaced the printed guest comment cards that were left prominently in guest rooms in a previous era.

While all feedback is welcome ─ and praise is particularly heartening ─ the truth is that owners, operators and line associates benefit the most when comments are negative. Providing first-class guest service on an ongoing basis is an essential pursuit for hoteliers, but it’s also an inexact science. So input from customers on what worked and what didn’t, what part of the guest stay went smoothly and what part fell short, is invaluable. The more, the better, if we’re going to try to continually improve.

Nor are TripAdvisor reviews or feedback on Google, Expedia or a brand website the only meaningful source of guest feedback. Front desk associates are trained to ask guests at checkout if they were satisfied with their stay. Likewise, general managers will make it a habit to be in the lobby or breakfast area in the morning to introduce themselves to guests and, in the process, pick up on any service or facilities issues that may have arisen. Unlike a review a guest composes and submits online, this kind of input is direct and spontaneous.

Guest feedback may take many forms, but they’re all valuable, and that feedback is always heard.

In the Hotel Business, Renovations are a PIP

An unavoidable fact of life in the hotel business is the property improvement plan, popularly known by the acronym, PIP. While PIPs require a significant investment on the part of the hotel owner and careful planning and implementation by the management company, they’re well worth the effort.


Holiday Inn New York City – Times Square, Summer 2015

Brands require that a PIP be undertaken for one of two reasons: when a hotel changes ownership or after a number of years of operation. M&R Hotel Management’s Best Western JFK Airport Hotel, for example, is currently in the midst of a PIP, following a number of years of service.

A PIP is the brand’s way of ensuring that a hotel’s appearance is appealing and that its back-of-house systems are up-to-date. Further, it’s a brand’s way of ensuring a hotel’s design and amenities are current with all the latest brand standards and, by extension, more or less consistent with other hotels carrying that brand flag. Brands need to meet guest expectations across the entire chain.

Typically, hotels remain open while PIPs are completed. With the hotel doors open, there’s a greater obligation on the hotel staff, starting with the general manager, to ensure guest disruption is kept to a minimum.


Holiday Inn New York City – Times Square, Summer 2015

Work usually is kept to a single floor at a time and conducted during hours when guests most likely are out of the building. On check-in, front desk agents alert guests to the situation, describe the nature of the work and thank them in advance for their cooperation.

Frequent travelers know that at the end of the day, hotel improvements mean their future stays will be more comfortable.