Alison Hunter is no stranger to the world of hospitality. She grew up in the hotel industry and held multiple roles in her career including cleaning, lifeguarding, and all the way up to the Director of Sales and Marketing of the Hilton Garden Inn Ottawa Airport. Her journey doesn’t stop there as she is now the General Manager at the brand new Hyatt Place Ottawa West, which opens May 27th, 2021 in the midst of a global pandemic.
Micrometrics Marketing Lead, Dave Hale, sat down with Alison for a fireside webinar to discuss:
- Opening a new hotel during a pandemic
- The secrets of delivering a consistent guest experience
- How technology can help enhance guest experience, and more!
Having years of experience under Alison’s belt in hotel operations allowed her to have a broader picture of the whole organization and how it all ties together to create a consistent guest experience. She also knows that to have a great experience you need to take care of your people. “It’s all about the team,” she said. Having a team that feels valued, happy, heard, respected and above all has good communication is key in providing the best experience for guests. The challenge mostly comes with hiring the right team, luckily there is a great talent pool of people who may be looking for a change and are ready to take on guests’ pent up demand for travel.
Alison’s biggest anticipated challenge is dealing with supply chain issues before the new property opens. Strikes at ports and longer shipping delays are outside of her control but she has a positive outlook that it will all work out in the end.
What practices, procedures, and policies that were inspired by the pandemic is she hoping will be carried forward in the post-pandemic world?
- A general systemic change to take care of employees and a better culture of understanding and support for when employees are sick and unable to work
- The efficiency of video calls and implementing more technology in the right ways can also improve quality of life and the guest experience.
Using technology to enhance the ability to have human connections is important but also a delicate balance in Alison’s eyes. Some guests will appreciate having a higher-touch type of experience and others will appreciate the ability to do all things from a distance using their smartphone. Giving guests a multitude of choices to communicate and enhance their stay is imperative for their own experience!
Leveraging technology to create more meaningful, more contextually relevant experiences with guests and to learn some context behind the guests experience allows her the opportunity to surprise and delight them in the moments that matter.
Alison and Hyatt Place Ottawa West have made it their mission to put sustainability at the forefront of their operations; the property has 225 solar panels on the roof, which generates enough energy most of the year that they can give back to the grid, it uses geo-thermal energy for heating and cooling, and they have a commitment to eliminating single use plastics. All of these efforts have earned Hyatt Place Ottawa West the distinction of being a “Green Key Global Property”, the first hotel in the world to open with a five key rating.
Sustainability doesn’t stop with environmental considerations, though. Next up? Alison is looking for ways to applying a sustainable model to how guests and staff interact with each other as the post-pandemic world will require more choice in preference in terms of how to deliver an exceptional guest experience across demographics and needs.