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The Best Best Western Hotel: How We've Won the M.K. Guertin Award 14 Years In A Row

with Michelle Duffy, General Manager at Best Western Plus Novato Oaks Inn

Together with

Today, we’re learning about:

  • The best Best Western hotel

  • Global hotels outlook

  • Lessons from Lou Zameryka

  • Coffee talks

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The Best Best Western Hotel: How We've Won the M.K. Guertin Award 14 Years In A Row

with Michelle Duffy, General Manager at the Best Western Plus Novato Oaks Inn

Today, we’re learning from Michelle Duffy, the general manager of the Best Western Novato Oaks Inn. They have won Best Western’s M.K. Guertin Award for guest satisfaction and business performance 14 years in a row, making her hotel the only one in the brand out of over 2,000 to achieve this feat.

How did they do this? Let’s dive in…

Michelle Duffy and me

Creating a Culture of Caring

At the heart of the Best Western Novato Oaks Inn's success is its unique culture, Michelle says.

Part of this starts in the Best Western brand culture. Unlike other major hotel brands, Best Western hotels are independently owned and operated, often passed down through generations. This often fosters a deep love for the hotel business and a genuine passion for hospitality.

But more than that, it’s personal. Michelle told me the importance of treating guests and staff with care, creating a family-like atmosphere where everyone feels valued and appreciated.

Focusing on Operations

I’m very operationally minded. I work the front desk. I build relationships with everyone.

Michelle's operational mindset sets her apart as a leader.

She actively engages with every department, working alongside her team members to ensure that every aspect of the hotel is running smoothly. From cleaning rooms to working at the front desk, Michelle's hands-on approach allows her to promptly identify and address any issues.

By personally experiencing the hotel from the perspective of both staff and guests, she can make necessary improvements and provide an exceptional experience.

Attention to Detail

Michelle’s commitment to excellence is evident in her attention to detail. I saw her pick up a stray piece of trash on our way to the interview, and she encourages her team to pay close attention to the cleanliness and maintenance of the guest rooms, common areas, and amenities.

By constantly evaluating the guest experience, they can identify areas for improvement and ensure that every guest feels comfortable and satisfied.

But that’s not all - she has a practice of staying overnight at the hotel herself from time to time, which allows her to identify even the smallest issues, such as a light shining through blackout drapes, and promptly address them. And it’s something she invites her team to do as well.

I ask my team to spend the night here. Are the blankets warm? Are the pillows comfortable? Is the bathroom clean? Are the hallways clean? Is the breakfast area clean? I ask them to get involved with every part of the hotel.

Tracking and Responding to Feedback

Michelle’s hotel uses technology to track guest satisfaction surveys and reviews to maintain its high standards.

This month, we received a 100% cleanliness score.

Michelle and her team regularly monitor online reviews, including those of their competitors, to gain insights and identify areas where they can excel. By sharing feedback with her team, Michelle fosters a sense of healthy competition and motivates them to maintain their exceptional performance.

Both guests and staff today rely on these reviews.

Encouraging Staff Longevity

One remarkable aspect of the Best Western Novato Oaks Inn is the longevity of its staff.

Many team members have been with the hotel for over a decade, with a number of them exceeding 20 years of service. Michelle attributes this to the hotel's culture of caring and the strong relationships built within the team.

We laugh a lot together and have fun.

By treating her staff like family and providing a supportive environment, Michelle has created a workplace where employees feel valued and motivated to stay long-term.

Revenue Impact

Michelle and her team’s commitment to exceptional service and guest satisfaction has positively impacted the hotel’s revenue and business performance. Their outstanding reviews and reputation have positioned them as a preferred choice for travelers, allowing them to maintain strong pricing power.

Overall, the Best Western Novato Oaks Inn's consistent success can be attributed to its culture of caring, operational excellence, attention to detail, and commitment to guest satisfaction.

Under the leadership of Michelle Duffy, the hotel has created a supportive and motivated team that consistently delivers exceptional service. By focusing on the guest experience and maintaining high standards, this hotel has set itself apart as a shining example of what excellence in hospitality looks like.

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