The hospitality industry is at a crossroads that sees many managers straddling with one foot in a pandemic past and one looking towards the future. But not Langham Chicago’s Hotel Manager, Lindsay Srednicki. Lindsay has both feet forward!
While the last year has been difficult, the “roaring 20s” could create the opportunity for unprecedented innovation and evolution in hospitality.
Micrometrics Marketing Lead, Dave Hale, sat down with Lindsay for a fireside webinar to discuss:
- How communication with her staff was key during the pandemic
- Breaking the mold of a traditional “guest experience”
- Future of hotel management in a post-pandemic world
- Role of OTA’s and attracting transient guests
- Where is the best deep dish pizza in Chicago?
Once an aspiring pastry chef, Lindsay, has had an impressive career in the hospitality industry. She is a born and raised Chicagoan who completed a bachelor’s degree in hotel and hospitality school as well as a culinary arts degree in Chicago at Kendall College. She then headed out west to Beaver Creek mountain at the Park Hyatt where she spent some time as a bar manager before being transferred to La Jolla, California where she spent a few years at the San Diego Hyatt. Lindsay transitioned into the luxury hotel market when she moved to Phoenix and held various roles including the Food and Beverage Manager at the Arizona Baltimore, Waldorf Astoria. All of those valuable years of experience have led her to her current role as the Hotel Manager at the luxurious The Langham in Chicago.
What makes The Langham, Chicago so special?
Lindsay credits their success to her staff and the culture that has been built by bringing in the right people and having the right attitude of making sure that their guests are all very well taken care of. “I would say that our people set us apart from anything. You can go to any luxury property and it can feel a bit stuffy. A lot of the comments that we get here are that we’re very approachable and kind.”
During the pandemic it was important to keep everyone informed by sending out a weekly newsletter with updates about the property and current restrictions. The communication was really appreciated by staff and it continued the culture that they had already built even though they weren’t on the property together.
What lessons from this past year will you take with you into building guest experiences post-pandemic?
“Nothing has to be done the way that you were doing it. People are excited to see new things and people are more open to trying new things. It has allowed us to combine some positions to allow for more growth opportunities for our colleagues.” They are keeping their eyes open for all types of opportunities when it comes to the guest experience.
“It’s about customizing what people want right now but you can’t just have the basics of a hotel room and a food offering at this point, it needs to be elevated. It needs to be way beyond just the basics these days.”
They have a beautiful facility, great rooms, a beautiful lobby and everything that goes with that but what people want now is an experience. “We’ve never thought further outside of the box in that regard and so our offerings have never been more than what they are now.” They have been focusing on some “red carpet” moments like private swim time where you could rent the pool privately for your family, personalized in-room tea times since their tea room is closed, hosted an ice cream social bar for children, and other tailored experiences for guests like games and a Cinema suite. These events and curated moments are also great for staff morale because they are happy to see celebrations happen in the hotel again.
The Langham is trying to move away from “pandemic security” messaging and moving towards communications around what they can do at the hotel. The marketing campaign for Langham Hotel Group is “celebrate the everyday”. “Celebrating the ‘just because’, and so it’s creating tailored experiences around that so that’s definitely where our marketing focus is going.” These experiences speak for themselves and create great social media posts and word of mouth for the hotel. “Continuing that experience and reminding people that we are still focused on health and safety of not only our guests but our colleagues, is an important message. It’s just not the focus anymore.”
Dave asked Lindsay “if you were coming in to interview for the job you have now, what is the number one thing that you would say you can focus on to be successful as the hotel manager at The Langham, Chicago?”
Lindsay liked the challenge of the question and answered: “I would say you need to be a very open minded and approachable person, especially in a time like this. You need to be willing to try anything, I’m very focused as you can tell on our colleagues as well because they are the ones who are seeing all of our guests and making them happy and so if our colleagues are happy and really kind of embodying our empowerment policy and the culture that we’ve built, then it makes my job, super simple because then all of our guests are really happy. Outside of just unavailability of things in the hotel, that has been our major complaint right now. Otherwise, the service that they’re receiving and the quality of their stay, is all coming from our colleagues so having that openness having that approachability, is definitely key to success in any management role, not just in my leadership role.”
One question from the webinar audience was “how has your view of OTAs like Tripadvisor and Expedia changed since the pandemic, have they done anything to help attract transient guests?”
“OTAs get a bad rap sometimes. We have a lot of OTA VIPs at this point, the clientele ends up being just the same clientele that might book through you directly, but they just want a few more amenities. OTAs have been extremely helpful through this entire time in getting the right messages out to guests. They let potential guests know that The Langham is open and exactly what we’re doing, and they showcase our availability. They are definitely a good partner to have throughout this process.”
Lastly, Dave and Lindsay discussed where to get the best deep dish pizza in Chicago. The top picks are:
- Pequod’s Pizza
- Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria
As we’ve seen in this interview, meaningful connections with guests and staff are at the heart of every great experience at The Langham, Chicago. Micrometrics believes that leveraging powerful messaging automations to improve customer experiences and operational efficiency can enhance face to face interactions by creating connections with guests at scale. That is the future of hospitality. Learn more here.