2015 - 04 April


Guest Column

The Art of Leadership: 6 Pillars of Sustainable Success


Want to learn how to integrate the 6 Pillars in your workplace? Register for "  The Art of Leadership Foundations ," AHLEI's leadership development program made in partnership with Aspire. It is designed to strengthen hospitality leadership and deliver the tools industry leaders need to enhance their leadership effectiveness through alignment, focus, and understanding of Aspire's proven processes for learning and development. 


By Renie Cavallari, Aspire 

Without it, you lose profitability. You experience more waste and less productivity. You waste the extraordinary potential of your organization. 

With it, you gain access to the innovation and enthusiasm of your people. You streamline operations and messaging. You clarify your goals and work tirelessly as a cohesive group of committed individuals to achieve them. And you break through attitudes of protecting the status quo.  

What is IT? 

In the last 20 years we've spent collaborating with teams to improve performance, Aspire has been able to study the habits and skills of consistent top performers and top-performing organizations…and identify what allows some people to sustain outstanding performance where others tend to weave in and out of mediocrity and never reach their potential. What became remarkably clear is that-regardless of industry, size or character-the organizations that saw the most success over time from profits, market share and innovation, to employee satisfaction and competitive advantage, all had one thing in common: they had extraordinary alignment. And that was a result of the depth of their leaders and their skills around intentional leadership. 

Aligned organizations hum with energy. They have clarity around their goals and are laser-focused and fueled by positivity and a commitment to achieve them. Their people communicate and collaborate effectively and produce strong financial results. Their customers rave about their experiences, becoming the organizations' best ambassadors. 

All leaders have the opportunity to create the alignment that sustains results top-performing organizations are able to achieve. Over thousands of hours of research, Aspire identified six skills that these aligned organizations all share. These 6 Pillars are your secret ingredient to ensuring your team has the alignment and leadership depth that delivers business success, and in this AHLEI exclusive series that begins with this article, you will get an Insider's Guide to implementing them at your organization. There's just one question left:

Are YOU ready to awaken the full potential of your organization?

Tackle the Obstacles to Teamwork

In the movie "Remember the Titans," Denzel Washington portrays football coach Herman Boone and unforgettably tells his team, "I don't care if you like each other but you will respect each other." Based on the true story of racial integration at T.C. Williams High School in Virginia, the challenges faced by the team's leaders-players and coaches-were many.  

Over time, Coach Boone ensured the players connected with each other by forcing them to learn about who they were as men, not just the positions they played. He required that they spend time getting to know teammates of the other race - both on and off the field - and he provided consequences when they did not. When the white and black players tried to sit on different buses, he forced them to sit in integrated pairs by position instead. 

In the movie, Coach Boone believed the players would connect over the work, and they did. They began to respect each other's contributions and collaborate effectively. When a game was on the line, they had the trust and mental focus to imagine and execute a winning strategy. By intentionally creating a connection between the two warring sides of his team, Coach Boone united the Titans and led them to an undefeated season. 

Intentional Leadership Pillar 1: Connection

Pillar 1 is Connection. It is the foundation for each of the other 5 Pillars of Alignment that this series will explore. Connection inspires people to play for each other, rather than themselves. It is the sense of camaraderie and rapport that comes through getting to know someone on a human level. Connection is different than chemistry. Whereas chemistry comes naturally, connection is something you choose to build with another person. You have to work at connection, especially with those who may not think or act like you. While you cannot have friendship without connection, you can have connection without friendship. 

Connection is built through collaboration. Making space for your team members to participate in decision-making builds connection. It ensures that each player on the team honors what others bring to the table. Leaders help each player connect how their individual role fits into the team's overall strategy. They help people see their value and the value of each person on the team so they play together as a cohesive whole. Connection is central to this task. 

Number One for a Reason 

Each of the 6 Pillars is essential when building alignment, and yet Connection is Pillar 1 for a reason. Why is connection the most important Pillar? It's all about trust. 

Trust answers the question, "Can I count on you?" With trust, your people won't question why you've asked them to do something or whether you will do your part. In a football game, a second's hesitation could mean the difference between a well-timed touchdown and an interception. In an office, it's the difference between communicating and collaborating effectively and wasting time second-guessing everyone's commitment.  

As my friend and managing director of Montage Laguna Beach Rick Riess says, "Every single moment with an employee is an opportunity to build trust or erode it." 

If you aren't working to foster connection among your team members every day, you are wasting opportunities to build trust and streamline the effectiveness of your organization. 

The secret to sustainable performance lies in the connection between players on your team. Strengthening connections with co-workers improves the work environment, and the better your relationships, the more effective you will be. Imagine Coach Boone's odds of achieving an undefeated season with a team that started out hating each other! Now imagine what you could achieve by better connecting your team. They probably don't hate each other to begin with, so you have an advantage!

The next article in this series will explore Pillars 2 & 3: Clean Communication and Compassion. 

Guest Service Gold

Lithuanian Resort and Restaurant Are First Certified Guest Service Properties in Europe

Lithuanian Two properties in Vilnius, Lithuania- IDW Esperanza Resort and Verkiai Restaurant are the first Certified Guest Service Properties in Europe after training their employees with AHLEI's Guest Service Gold® program and certifying them as Certified Guest Service Professionals (CGSP®).   

Linas Pucinskas, CHE, CGSP, managing director of Verkiai, was among the first people in Lithuania to take the Guest Service Gold® training and CSGP® certification exam when it was introduced in Vilnius in April 2013. He delivered the program to the staff at Verkiai, a luxury restaurant located on the ground floor of the Verkiai Palace in Vilnius. Pucinskas introduced the program to Tomas Maknickas, general manager of the IDW Esperanza Resort, a five-star eco-friendly boutique property that is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World

"We decided that such a training and certification would be useful to both our employees and the resort," said Maknickas. "The employees enjoyed the online training and I'm sure it will contribute toward some truly remarkable Guest Service Gold® moments at our resort. It is an honor for us to earn the title of Certified Guest Service Property. This is yet another reflection of our organization's continued focus on excellence in meeting the needs of our guests." 

Maknicknas shared one Guest Service Gold® moment performed by front office manager Inga Panaviene, CGSP.  
"There was a senior couple staying in our resort, and the receptionist offered them a tour around the nearby cities of Vilnius and Trakai. After the tour, the couple expressed a wish to experience something unique, with a touch of the genuine local spirit. Inga immediately offered the guests to show them the most remarkable places of Aukstadvaris regional park-by herself, after her regular work hours. She showed them the old Jewish cemetery, the Devil pit in the park, and afterwards took them to her parents' house, where they had the opportunity to see the real countryside life. The guests were excited and sincerely appreciated Inga's passion and enthusiasm," he recounted.

Pucinskas, who has conducted Guest Service Gold® training at several hotels in Lithuania, said that the program is effective, easy to implement, affordable, and well accepted by both employees and guests. 

"Within the hospitality industry in Europe, we are often discussing Western hospitality standards, which means the highest professionalism and best service provided to the guests. However, nobody was able to describe clearly exactly what that meant. AHLEI has offered a perfect product with seven elements and short-term training, followed by an exam and certification.  Today, we can better understand and explain easily what these Western standards of hospitality and guest service professionalism are," he explained.

California Community Colleges Use Guest Service Gold® as Core of Hospitality Training

California Community College Small Employment in California's hospitality and tourism sector is projected to create more than 200,000 new jobs by 2017, an increase of 11.8 percent. An innovative grant program through the State Chancellor's Office of the California Community College System is providing the means for colleges to introduce broad-spectrum hospitality training to prepare students to enter those jobs. 

To remedy the shortage of skilled workers, the Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Learn and Earn (RHT) grant was created and launched in the San Francisco Bay, Motherlode (Central Valley), and L.A/Orange County regions. These regional sectors, under the leadership of deputy sector navigators, are using the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute's Guest Service Gold® training program and Certified Guest Service Professional (CSGP®) designation to provide a solid foundation in hospitality principles for a number of different audiences, including high school students, educators, and incumbent workers.

"California's tourism and hospitality industry is booming. New hotels are popping up everywhere, and with that comes a need for more hospitality employees," said Susan Ragatz, CGSP, education director for the California Hotel & Lodging Association . "Not only have we seen an increase in the awareness of hospitality as a career path, but California Community Colleges has made great strides in aligning themselves with high schools, four-year colleges, and industry partners to ensure they are offering programs that benefit students and businesses."

The hospitality program is most fully developed in the Bay Region, where deputy sector navigator Andrea Vizenor has implemented a variety of platforms to introduce hospitality training through Guest Service Gold® and CGSP®. Vizenor brings a background in both hospitality operations (10 years with Hyatt in a variety of management positions) and teaching in high school hospitality and tourism programs to her role.

Based at Skyline College in San Bruno, Vizenor worked with faculty there to develop a half-unit college course called "Excellence in Service" that integrates the training of skills necessary to prepare for the CGSP® exam and acts as a bridge component for high school and adult school students. It will roll out regionally for more than a dozen Bay Region Community Colleges to adopt and is currently being taught at Skyline College as part of its new Hospitality and Tourism Management Program, which launched in the fall 2014 semester.

Vizenor has also worked with hospitality industry leaders in the region to develop a hospitality-specific language development training program to advance the English language skills of incumbent workers. The program integrates the Guest Service Gold® training and CGSP® certification as part of the service component of the training.  

Two other programs that have proven very successful under Vizenor's leadership include:

• Hospitality SUCCESS (pictured): In this three-day professional development training for educators in hospitality, culinary, and tourism, leading hospitality trainer Emily Ellis trained close to 60 educators in Guest Service Gold® and all participants earned their CGSP® certification and gained many ideas on how to integrate competencies in to the wide variety of courses they teach.

• Internship Boot Camp: As part of a regional partnership with Bon Appétit @ Google, students participate in a paid internship experience. The Bay Region RHT Initiative has developed a four-day internship boot camp where students gain the soft skills and technical skills needed to successfully begin their internship. The boot camp training integrates Guest Service Gold®, allowing students to prepare for the exam and earn their CGSP® certification. 

"Building these programs from scratch is exciting," said Vizenor. "We're working closely with industry partners to find the best strategies to prepare students for work.  We want to be able to provide as many exciting opportunities as possible." 

High School Programs

High School Teams Ready to Meet in Orlando for 12th Annual HTMP International Competition

HTMP Highschool Final plans are being made to welcome 11 teams of high school hospitality students to the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida, April 23-25, for the 2015 HTMP International Competition . These young people represent the best and brightest hospitality students in the world and they've got their sights set on winning bragging rights, scholarship money, and the opportunity to attend the International Hotel, Motel, & Restaurant Show in New York this fall. They will also enjoy networking with hospitality industry leaders, getting a back-of-the-house tour of the Rosen Shingle Creek, and even spending some fun time at one of Orlando's theme parks. 

This year's teams come from six U.S. states, the Bahamas, Guam, and the District of Columbia. This is the first year that a state or country may be represented by more than one school.  The 2015 competitors are: 

• Anatol Rodgers High School, Nassau, Bahamas
• Jack Hayward High School, Freeport, Bahamas
• Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, California
• Miami Beach Senior High School, Miami Beach, Florida
• Mid-Florida Technical High School, Orlando, Florida 
• Okkodo High School, Dededo, Guam
• KTEC Resort Academy, Rathdrum, Idaho
• White Mountains Regional High School, Whitefield, New Hampshire
• Byron Nelson High School, Trophy Club, Texas
• Hospitality High School, Washington, D.C. 
• Triumph High School, Cheyenne, Wyoming 

Teams compete in a number of events that showcase the students' knowledge of hospitality operations, based on their participation in classes that use AHLEI's Hospitality and Tourism Management Program (HTMP), a two-year high school curriculum.

The students will be competing for scholarships provided by the following:  American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation (AH&LEF), Culinary Institute of America, Florida International University, Johnson & Wales University, Newbury College, San Diego State University, Sullivan University, and University of Maryland Eastern Shore. 

This year's competition sponsors include: GOLD-AHL&EF, American Express, HCareers, Loews Hotels & Resorts; SILVER-Best Western International; and BRONZE-La Quinta Inns & Suites. 

Orlando Spotlight

PHreshKitchen Looks Forward to Producing Healthier, Longer Lives

PHresh By Casie Shimansky, Social Media Manager, AHLEI 

Today's world is all about being healthier, and Orlando restaurant franchise executive Tim Murphy is determined to expand upon this lifestyle with the PHreshKITCHEN concept. Tim is the founder and CEO of PHreshKITCHEN, a passionate, fast-casual food and beverage franchise that is looking to provide low-calorie, healthful foods within convenient and unique eateries that showcase the most cutting-edge technology.  PHreshKITCHEN isn't stopping there though, as they also plan to provide their guests with content and educational materials on the benefits of proper diet and exercise.  

What else makes PHreshKITCHEN unique?  Tim invited me to a recent presentation about PHreshKITCHEN so I could experience it for myself.


PHreshKITCHEN will be located in mobile iKitchens that are designed to be modern and inviting for their guests.  The truly exciting part about PHreshKITCHEN is that these iKitchens will actually be made from recycled shipping containers!  As these units only take up two to four parking spots, the location options for PHreshKITCHENS are endless, but they will be focused on high volume, foot traffic areas - think hospitals, universities, downtown city centers, airports and bus/train stations. 


The tech scene at PHreshKITCHEN is quite impressive as well. They're going to be operating off of cloud-based technology so that they can provide real-time information and analysis on each iKitchen - everything from product quantities, sales, loyalty programs, and guest service satisfaction will be monitored.  The iKitchens will also provide interactive nutritional education to help guests connect with other activities within their local communities to enhance their lives. 


Each PHreshKITCHEN will have its own regional commissary that will make product deliveries as needed, potentially up to three or four times per week for high volume locations. These commissaries will help to protect the brand and control portions, while keeping the menu consistent and fresh. As the commissary receives notification that a particular iKitchen is running low on a certain product, they can then prepare that and deliver it quickly to the location.  Since the technology is of such a high caliber, the commissary will be able to be vigilant of product quality and quantity so that each iKitchen will function at its best. 


Tim Murphy is an experienced hospitality and franchise expert with 30 years of experience.  After he began running marathons and looking for healthier food options a few years ago, he realized that many people only had two options: fast food or healthy food. There really wasn't a place for anyone who wanted both options. This is when Tim decided to do something about that, and began to develop the idea of PHreshKITCHEN.  

Today, PHReshKITCHEN has a team of hospitality professionals with more than 800+ years of experience in the food industry and franchise leadership. This impressive team has collectively worked for some of the industry's best and most recognizable brands. Olympians, doctors, dieticians, and chefs have joined their team with the enthusiasm for bringing this concept to the world to further fuel the health food movement.

PHreshKITCHEN's food isn't just healthy, it's affordable and offers low-calorie, low-sodium, GMO-free and organic options that are flavorful, filling, and registered dietitian approved. Some of their core items will be wraps, flatbreads, sliders, and grab-n-go meals. They also have menus to accommodate everyone from athletes to families, and those who are on vegan/vegetarian diets.  During my time with PHreshKITCHEN I was able to taste three menu options that were unique and packed with a variety of flavors. The team has done an exceptional job on bringing their menu to life.  


Quite often I find myself craving a meal that's healthy and fresh - and PHreshKITCHEN definitely hits this spot!  I'm excited to see what the PHreshKITCHEN team has to offer in the future, and what they will bring to our booming hospitality industry. PHreshKITCHEN will launch in Orlando, Florida with the hopes of expanding beyond there very quickly.


If you have a hospitality industry spotlight that you would like featured in the monthly AHLEI newsletter, please contact our Social Media Manager Casie Shimansky at cshimansky@ahla.com  

Implementing the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry, 11th Revised Edition

Treatment of Service Charge for Revenue and Expense Reporting In the Hospitality Industry

Christopher Garland Prepared by: Christopher Garland

It is usual and customary in the hospitality industry to apply a fixed percentage mandatory service charge to certain revenues. In many cases, some or all of the service charge is paid to hotel employees to supplement their base wages. 

In drafting of the 11th edition of the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry , the American Hotel & Lodging Association Financial Management Committee (the "Committee") had to determine whether (i) the full amount of the service charge billed to customers should be treated as revenue and the portion (if any) paid to employees deducted as a wage expense, or (ii) the amount of the service charge to be treated as revenue should be net of amounts paid (if any) to employees (with such employee payments treated as a pass through on the balance sheet).

Read the entire article here .

Workforce Development

Southern Maine Community College Workforce Program Prepares Students for Hospitality Careers

Southern Maine Ten Portland, Maine residents recently completed Southern Maine Community College's Hospitality and Customer Service Rising Stars Academy, giving them skills that are in demand by Maine hospitality businesses.

Through SMCC's Business and Community Partnerships department, the academy provided 96 hours of entry-level hospitality training to unemployed and underemployed residents at no cost.  The training included AHLEI's Guest Service Gold® program and Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP®) exam. Since completing the program, all 10 students have been interviewed by Portland hotels and several have been hired or offered paid internships through the Portland Jobs Alliance.

"SMCC's workforce training gives Mainers bright futures and provides Maine businesses with skilled employees they need to remain competitive," said SMCC President Ron Cantor. 

The Rising Stars Academy was funded by a grant from the Maine Community College System's Maine Quality Centers program and was designed to support efforts of the Portland Jobs Alliance, which is funded by the city's Community Development Block Grant program. Training partners included the Maine Innkeepers Association, Portland Adult and Community Education, Coastal Enterprises Inc. and Preble Street Resource Center.  

The academy introduced students to the numerous skills needed in the hospitality industry with a particular emphasis on how customer service plays into every job - from front desk, housekeeping and banquet and event operations to laundry services and overnight shifts.  Instruction was followed by practical "labs" to provide hands-on reinforcement.  

Students received the following certifications as part of the training:  

• Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP®) certification from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI)
• ServSafe-Food Handler certification from the National Restaurant Association
• CPR and First Aid certification from the American Heart Association

Several Portland-area hotels participated in the training by providing guest speakers, giving tours of their properties and attending a Candidate Expo at the academy's graduation ceremony in February, thereby allowing graduates to meet with potential employers. 

"The Maine Innkeepers Association is pleased and proud to have been involved in the first-ever hospitality training program geared toward the New Mainer community in Portland," said Greg Dugal, executive director of the Maine Innkeepers Association . "The students were intelligent, industrious and pleasant, and went out of their way to exceed expectations."

The Hospitality and Customer Service Rising Stars Academy graduates, pictured with SMCC Community and Business Partnerships Dean Julie Chase (left) are: Zainab Miguel, Armand Turinyungo, Tam Thai, Gina Nzanza Kiese, Roger Kabata, Ruth Andrades, Jules Cesar Ntsinzi, Christophe Uwizeyimana, Christian Muhunde, and Sandrine Umuhoza.

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