Recruiting on a visit to Target

September 8, 2021

Hospitality Daily is a non-boring summary of stories for busy people who want to get better each day at providing hospitality.

My last trip before the COVID pandemic was to Los Angeles, where I stayed at The London West Hollywood. The property was beautiful, the service top-notch - overall a world-class hospitality experience. My friend Adele Gutman recently interviewed their general manager, Jeff Kulek, and I’m excited to share his philosophy on recruiting with you today.


How Jeff Kulek, GM of The London West Hollywood, finds his team

Jeff thinks about referrals first when recruiting. “Hiring the right people starts with our existing employment base. We have a lot of very talented and passionate people that we get to work with every day. We created an incentive program for them to provide referrals. Like attracts like. People that are quality and passionate about living and about being hospitable are likely to have friends and family that are very much like that.”

But he also keeps his radar up at all times for people who would be a good fit for the culture he’s building. “A way to hire great people is encouraging your leadership team to listen and look for those people that are out there in other service industries that have transferable talents while they’re out and about in their daily lives. People that smile, that you can feel their presence when they’re with you, that you know you have their undivided attention and they’re being so thoughtful and so professional and pleasant with you, whether you’re dining, whether you’re in a supermarket, wherever you might be.”

“It’s amazing where you can find talent. I actually found somebody, believe it or not, very early morning one Saturday at a Target store. You would think, ‘Why would a luxury hotel hire somebody from a Target store?’ It’s really not about a place where someone has worked. It’s more about who they are as a person, their attitude, their sense of welcoming, their zest for living.”

“You can train anybody to do any type of job. Job training is very easy to provide, but what you can’t teach people is how to smile, how to make someone feel welcomed. You can find those people almost every day if you really open your eyes and pay attention to that.”

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Designing transformative experiences

Andreea Antonescu recently shared an excellent article on deconstructing experience design, and one part that stood out to me is how the design of great experiences depends on knowing your guests.

“People are unique and have different needs and expectations in different situations. That is why knowing your customers is a crucial element when designing an experience.” Depending on the targeted persona, we may want to consider elements such as novelty, surprise & serendipity, playfulness, pleasure (activation of the 5 senses), understanding & learning (‘aha!’ moments), poise, freedom and loss of time and space, enchantment, fun, and joy.

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Motels making a comeback

Bygone roadside motels are getting a second chance at becoming tourist destinations, offering visitors craving a chance to be social with strangers - but in moderation.

At the Starlite Motel in Kerhonkson, in Ulster County, the co-owners, Alix Umen, 57, and Adriana Farmiga, 47, wanted to bring art, culture and a new spin on hospitality to the motel format. “We’re very community facing,” Ms. Farmiga said. “This is something specifically designed in mind to appreciate and uplift a creative community of artists, makers, farmers, chefs, and musicians.”

For guests, that means happenings of every sort. There might be a D.J. spinning, or a team of swimmers entertaining guests with a synchronized ballet. And on Friday nights, even the neighbors turn out for hot vegan comfort bites from a food truck that also operates an on-site bodega during the week.

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If you’re working on something you’d like me to share here - or come across a story of someone providing exceptional hospitality - let me know by replying to this email (editor@hospitalitydaily.com).

And that’s it, folks! Go out there and make someone’s day today.