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Union Square Cafe

Danny Meyer and the Science of “Enlightened Hospitality” in Action

This past weekend, I had the privilege of traveling to New York City to see what has now become one of my favorite musicals (Hamilton, that is) and spending some quality time with my father.  It was some sorely needed R&R and I thoroughly enjoyed Hamilton in a way one can’t really appreciate until one is sitting in the theatre and taking in all the sights and sounds.  However, I will not be writing anything on that experience (other than to coincide with my post on reading Ron Chernow’s biography on the same man), mostly because there is no commentary I can make that hasn’t already been said.

This post is dedicated to another event that occurred during the same weekend and both the man and the philosophy behind it: The event was dining at Union Square Café (USC) before seeing the show.  The man is Danny Meyer, restauranteur and entrepreneur extraordinaire, and the philosophy is enlightened hospitality, the science of delivering exceptional customer service and how it makes the guest feel.  After reading Mr. Meyer’s amazing book Setting the Table, I knew that I eventually had to dine at one of his restaurants and experience this science for myself.

The truly amazing aspect was that the service began before I even visited USC.  After confirming my reservation on the phone at another one of his restaurants a few days before, I asked the receptionist if there was any availability at USC.  I had resigned myself to a response of “no”, considering one usually must book a month in advance at USC, until the receptionist came back and not only found us a spot but accommodated our need to be at the theatre by 7:45 PM.  If that’s not a textbook good first impression I don’t know what is!

What’s more, the enlightened hospitality didn’t stop once we reached the restaurant.  Every staff member seemed to know our time table for getting to the theatre on time, and they all made it their duty to accommodate our crunched schedule.  Nevertheless, we were greeted warmly, indulged in complimentary champagne (this also happened to be my long overdue birthday dinner), and provided superb recommendations that turned out delicious.  We were even greeted by the restaurant’s own guest relations manager, who I made a connection with over our mutual love for Danny Meyer, hospitality, and the UK (having studied there only just last year and she being originally from London).  She gave me her card and invited me to come up sometime again for a private behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant operation.  The ending to our meal was just as spectacular, as I was surprised with a birthday dessert and we were given a loaf of bread to celebrate the company’s newest bakery opening up soon.  Needless to say, I left happy and satisfied, both with food and with experience of enlightened hospitality in action!

I could honestly go on and on about the restaurant and the hospitality I received but let us also look at the way enlightened hospitality was delivered: every single staff member I met, from the associate who took our coats to the guest relations manager, was either informed or genuinely curious about me.  Everyone was excited for me to be seeing Hamilton.  Everyone wished me Happy Birthday.  The guest relations manager capitalized on my zeal for hospitality and made it a point to give me her information and invite me back.  There was no ulterior motive in anything done, only the desire to build customer loyalty and good will among the restaurant’s guests, with the hope that they will either return again (as I hopefully will in the future) or spread good news about the restaurant (which I certainly will).

Enlightened hospitality goes beyond what Danny Meyer describes as the technical delivery of a product or service, which any fancy restaurant with a decent chef can accomplish.  All the interactions I had with the staff and the service I was provided contributed to an entity beyond any product and vastly more valuable: a feeling.  A feeling that I was important and cared about and not simply another customer to feed.  For any business, creating value out of feelings might be challenging and have no immediate monetary value.  However, the reason I believe Danny Meyer has been so successful is that he focuses on these feelings as the building blocks for success (i.e. brand loyalty, bigger customer spends, word-of-mouth marketing, etc.)  The feeling that Danny Meyer and his staff created for me was priceless, and everyone knew that.

So a huge thank you is in order, to Danny Meyer and the entire staff of USC, for delivering more than a tasty meal and a loaf bread.  Thank you for an indescribable feeling that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.  That’s enlightened hospitality.

Here is the link to Union Square Hospitality Group, the parent company to all of Danny Meyer’s fabulous restaurants, if anyone happens to be in New York and looking for a fantastic time out: http://www.ushgnyc.com/

Entering a New Role, Taking that First Step

“I shouldn’t be nervous at all.  I’ve done this half a dozen times”, I say to myself as I enter Two Chatham Center, home to the Pittsburgh based AccessData, a Broadridge company.  I made my way into the office, where I greeted my fellow interns and my supervisor with a bright smile on my face but a knot in my stomach.  This was to be my next internship for around four months (or longer) and even after having several internships and part-time jobs before now, I was still uneasy.  For some reason, the foray into an unfamiliar office environment, with little knowledge of the company, the culture, and the people, still unsettles me.  What is even more bizarre is that I knew I had nothing to be worried about: I had obviously interviewed well, beat out the best of the best candidates to get to this point, and demonstrated that I match the “type” any company looks for in a qualified, outstanding employee.  Maybe I’m concerned other employees won’t like me.  Perhaps I’m concerned I won’t perform to the level expected of me in my new role.  With all these reasons to doubt myself, it can be difficult to enter a new job with a positive attitude, and although I masked my nervousness well, these thoughts still plagued my mind like a swarm of pesky flies.

It’s now one week later and I can definitively say (as I knew was the case all along) that I had nothing to worry about.  Not only were all of my colleagues welcoming and supportive of me and the other new interns but our supervisor did everything possible to settle us into our new roles with the least amount of friction.  I felt like a valuable part of the team right from the beginning, and by the end of the week I had the confidence to know that I can take on this job with the can-do spirit that I’ve come to hone through my past experiences.

So why was I at all nervous?  If you’re anything like me, you subconsciously ask yourself questions at an almost breathtaking speed, where as soon as you’ve settled one thought, another one pops up to take its place.  And while I can’t necessarily stop the questions from coming to a head, I can take some managed steps to mitigate the impending tension (or, in other words, calm down).  First, I always have positive attitude when I enter a new company.  Even if you’re masking some insecurity, a friendly demeanor will undoubtedly make everyone around you more comfortable and receptive to a new presence in the office, and may even initiate fast friendships.  Second.  I learn as many names as I can.  One of the topics in Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People (my review can be found here) is that learning people’s names goes a long way to showing you respect and care enough about your colleagues to remember a vital piece of information about them, and it may make conversation or asking for help go more smoothly (instead of saying “hey you!”)  Finally, I believe that the most important trait to have is a can-do spirit.  Having the mindset to always try your best at a new task or perform to the best of your ability in your new role will always garner more respect than saying “I can’t do it.”  We show appreciation and respect for our new colleagues, who were often times in the same positions as us, when we roll up our sleeves and say “Yes we can”, even when the opportunity for failure exists.

As I continue down my career path, I know that I’ll have to enter many new offices with the same thoughts and uneasy feelings as I had experienced a week ago.  But following my plan and staying true to what I do best, I’m sure I can meet that challenge and succeed.


Reflecting on London, Looking Toward the Future

My last day in London was pretty bizarre.  I photographed the President of the United States at work, I had one of the most extravagant milkshakes of my life (topped with a face-sized cookie and a blow-torched marshmallow), and I said goodbye to some really amazing coworkers and friends.  I guess now that I’m typing it all out, it doesn’t sound so “bizarre”.  I mean it wasn’t as if I went to the “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” in Piccadilly Circus?

No, I think the strangeness of the day came from the realization that it was that specific day, April 22nd 2016 that ended my study abroad experience.  I never would have believed that my last day in London would consist of being the POTUS photographer, consuming my weight in ice cream and milk, and saying goodbye to people I didn’t even know 4 months ago.  It was a weird feeling, but please don’t think I’m getting emotional.  While I loved every minute of my time in London, I knew it eventually had to come to an end.  Every one of us who studied abroad had to wake up to reality at some point.

Besides, I have so much to be grateful for from this experience. I grew professionally from my internship and personally from my coworkers at Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott Hotel.  The sites I’ve seen, performances I’ve watched, and the food I’ve tasted all contributed to my study abroad adventure.  I visited beautiful countries and developed a few British mannerisms.  Finally, the friends that I’ve made and the memories we made together all translate into one of the best experiences of my life and I plan on using all of them, the good and the bad, to find further success in the future.

So no, I don’t “miss” London.  I think I’ve gotten everything out of my time there that I possibly could.  I also do not consider myself a “Londoner” and no one who studies abroad in London for 3 months ever should; in reality we know much less about the global financial center with 10 million people than most of us would care to admit.  But I’m not concerned with what’s in the past.  I’m looking forward.

I have honed two very important concepts while abroad that I plan to capitalize on during the rest of my time in university: passion and confidence.  I have rediscovered and affirmed my passion for hospitality; that is the industry that I will enter and I will do everything in my power to prepare myself for a career in hospitality.  With regards to confidence, I’ve never been more confident in my abilities and my goals since studying abroad.  I now know what I want and I will not be afraid to do what it takes to go out and take it for myself.  Both of these ideas have empowered me to pursue big dreams back in the states, and I will not be backing down until I achieve success.

Stay tuned for more developments from my site, as I try to refocus and reorganize my brand.

Pause. Disconnect. Enjoy.

This last weekend was a roller coaster of emotions and reflections.  A good portion of it was spent up in the highlands of Scotland, touring the Isle of Skye, walking along the streets of Inverness, and appreciating the fine mountain air that escaping the dense city of London afforded me.  I went traveling with one of my best friends here, and I was very grateful for her company as we took selfies, ate delicious Scottish beef, and survived all four seasons of weather that happened to come upon us all at once (rain, snow, sleet, sunshine, repeat).  I also had the pleasure of walking around Camden Market and the Regents Canal when I returned to London, taking in some beautiful weather and enjoying some of the best street food the city has to offer (a crispy duck burger with blue cheese on a brioche bun?  Yes please!)

However, as I was gallivanting across Scotland and strolling along the canals, I realized that I was witnessing beauty in its purest form, a form that I may never get to see again.  The clear blue water of Loch Ness, the deep shades of green in each finely sculpted tree and shrub, the multitude of yellow flowers dotting the Scottish countryside, all of this was utterly and uniquely perfect, breathtaking in fact.  I knew I couldn’t take all this scenery in and that I also wouldn’t capture everything with the snap of a picture.  So I decided to do something this weekend that many millennials aren’t too familiar with: I decided to not worry about recording everything.  While I did still take pictures, I worried about seeing something with my own eyes more than seeing it through a lens.  I walked leisurely and I took my time with exploring and observing.  Instead of trying to save everything, I wanted to savor everything.

After I took the above picture of the Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, I stood for a good three minutes and just tried to take in, visually, what I was witnessing.  Here is a castle that has stood the test of time for over 1200 years and was still absolutely beautiful in 2016.  The mountains in the background, large and looming, stood watch over the tiny fortress, its stone bridge protruding over the surrounding loch as a welcoming arm to visitors.  The deep shades of green in the thick grass, spotted here and there with vibrant yellow daffodils, gave color to a somber and lonely castle.  Sprouting up from the ground, the flagpole holds the dramatic Scottish flag fluttering almost wildly in the strong northern winds.  All of this paints a picture in my mind of what Scotland was like, in that moment, to me.  A picture may be worth a thousand words, but that memory leaves me at a loss for words.

Why just today, I tried to do the same thing and took a two hour stroll along Regents Canal.  Again, everything was just too perfect to explain with one picture:  The rippling of the water as each gondola glided by, the bright yellows, blues and purples of the flowers nestled on the bank, and the beautiful blue sky dotted with a puffy white cloud here and there.  Another truly memorable and undeniably authentic experience, undisturbed by the technology which seemingly consumes us all.

Sometimes, it is simply so rewarding to plant yourself in the moment, take in what’s around you, and record a memory rather than a photo.

Symbols are Connections; Connections are Symbols

I have been obsessed with the hospitality I have received from my friends and my colleagues over the past few months.  Everyone has been so welcoming and inviting and I am greatly appreciative of the kindness they have shown me.  However, I am now starting to consider the inherent meaning behind such connections to friends and colleagues, including one particular example at my internship the other day.


The griffin.  A symbol of majesty, power, and of course the JW Marriott Hotel brand.  I was finally given my griffin pin, which all employees wear to signify their unity and kinship to the organization.  It marks a type of union, an unspoken word of affinity.  As employees, we only need see the beautiful silver griffin on our fellow colleagues’ lapels to distinguish guests from fellow workers and to understand the connection that our pin represents.  Our griffins are also symbols of the amount of work that each and every JW Marriott employee does, day in and day out, for the benefit of our guests.  Our elite brand of hotel has a unique symbol because we are a unique group of employees; there are very few brands that can compete with the JW Marriott in terms of the quality of service that our employees offer.  We therefore wear a symbol of that higher caliber, and it means the world to us.


I was very grateful to receive my griffin, but there are more metaphorical symbols of friendship, connection, and empathy that I am also thankful for in and out of my professional life.  For example, the care that my colleagues took to make sure that my family’s trip to visit me here was fun and relaxing, from calling their hotel to securing a friends and family rate for their stay (since they stayed at a Marriott hotel) was far too much.  This symbol of friendship, the fact that my colleagues would go out of their way to help make sure my parents had an excellent stay in London, was so very important to me.  Another example are all the invitations I’ve received to go out and experience London with my friends.  From Windsor Castle to a local music festival, these gestures are symbolic of great friendship and very important to me as well.  These connections are also symbolic of cherished relationships, relationships that can last a lifetime, and by which I am almost overwhelmed with joy.

It is important to take stock of important symbols, whether physical objects or meaningful connections, at certain times in your life. The symbols that hold importance in your life are worth taking account of, and if you do, you may come across more than you bargained for, just as I have.

The Importance of a Work/Life Balance

This past week was our class’ spring break week, which for most people included gallivanting around Europe to exotic and historic destinations, maybe sipping some wine (or downing far worse), taking enough selfies and pictures of random buildings to fill 3 IPhones of storage, and of course contracting foreign diseases and bringing them back to London for me to sample, (thanks).  However, I wasn’t so “lucky” in my spring break plans, for I worked on Saturday of the week before last, in addition to Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at my internship.


Now before there are any judgements made, just know that I am in no way bitter about working over last week and that I actually enjoyed working over this time, since I was able to do some more unique tasks like supervising another intern and conducting site visits of other hotels and event spaces.  These are jobs I wouldn’t have had if I were to be found sitting on the beach in Spain or skiing in the Swiss Alps, and the point I’m trying to make is that I wanted to work because that is the balance I was looking for over my spring break.  I still had Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday off to enjoy myself and relax from the hustle and bustle of the past 6 weeks, but I didn’t slow down so much that it would have been difficult to get back into the swing of things.  That’s the way a lot of people operate and it’s important to find the work/life balance that fits you.


The importance of a work/life balance cannot be understated and there are benefits and detriments of favoring one over the other.  The Mental Health Foundation of the United Kingdom estimates that 3 out of every 10 employees will encounter a mental health issue in any given year due to work-related stress.  At the same time, an article from the Harvard Business Review sets up a good debate between advocates of more “work” and advocates of more “life”, noting that not all employees are the same and some actually “feed off the urgency of the organization” more than others, leading to increased productivity and happiness for those individuals.


I don’t want to justify one lifestyle over any other because everyone is different, just as every job and every life lived is different, and prescribing one specific schedule that will work for everyone just isn’t possible.  At this stage in my life, I’m in the mindset that if I’m willing and able to work, and that I can gain something from the experience, then I will take that opportunity and dedicate that time to the job.  While that mindset doesn’t characterize all of my decisions concerning how I use my time (I do like to have fun on occasion), it’s more often than not the framework for how I can accomplish my goals.


But overall, I think I have the right work/life balance for a study abroad experience, especially if I include my education into the work side of the balance.  The important thing is for each and every one of us to determine what our own balance is, and fully commit ourselves to honoring that determination.


p.s. Just to prove that I did something else besides work last week, the featured picture is taken from the tour of Westminster Abbey I did just last Saturday.  It was astounding.


Check out these links for more information on work/life balance (used above in my blog):





Why We Shouldn’t Complain About Education, No Matter Where We Are

Over the past few weeks, now that I am comfortably settled in to my study abroad experience, I’ve been hearing some relatively negative things about my specific program and the country that we have been studying in (the United Kingdom for those just joining me on this journey).  Some people are complaining about the type of food served, the weather, the size of our accommodations, the internship is too boring, the classes are too hard, where’s the WIFI, etc.  While I admit that at first I was bothered by a few differences between school, work, and life here versus back in the United States (namely the lack of a dryer for my clothes), I’ve mostly adjusted to life here and there are a surprising amount of aspects that I prefer about life in the UK than back in the states (public transportation, the culture that’s freely available, and the fact that people are generally quieter, more polite, and better informed).  So while I believe that most of my fellow students are well adjusted, myself included, others aren’t so much.  Whether that’s due to homesickness or an unwarranted sense of entitlement is not as clear to me, but armed with the full knowledge that you miss your dear kitty Cat Benatar or just hate the fact that people drive on the opposite side of the road from Americans, I want to at least give some context as to how lucky we truly are as students to be studying abroad.

Let’s start with some basic information about who studies abroad.  According to the National Association of Foreign Student Advisors (NAFSA), less than 2% of students enrolled at an institution of higher education in the U.S. study abroad, representing about 304,000 students in the academic year 2013-2014.  These students gain a variety of cross-cultural skills, including easier communication between cultures and a better understanding of themselves and of their own culture, as disclosed in the Journal of Studies in International Education.  Moreover, a survey published by the Institute for International Education of Students (IIES) found that among the students who studied in their programs from 1950 to 1999 (with updated results in a 2012 survey), “96% have increased self-confidence, 97% feel more mature and 98% understand their own values more clearly.”  As students of study abroad, we are not only among a select few who have this very special opportunity but are also developing the cultural and emotional competencies to face much bigger challenges in the future.

When international internships are thrown into the mix, the results just keep getting better.  The same survey by IIES reported that 70% of students who had internships while abroad reported “ignited interest in a career decision after the experience” while 83% said that the experience “allowed them to acquire skill sets that influenced their career path”.  Furthermore, employers like the fact that students study abroad, to the point where they are actively looking for job candidates with international experience, a feature that is currently lacking in American businesses.  In 2014, a combined report by the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the University of Memphis surveyed 836 different companies of all sizes and determined that 40% missed international business opportunities due to a lack of cross-culturally competent staff.  And these companies are looking for more and more people with both hard and soft skills acquired within an international context, because 95% of consumers live outside of the United States, and that’s the nature of international business today.

So there is plenty to celebrate about getting at least a portion of your education in another country and no matter the details, we as study abroad students in the UK should be grateful for the opportunity, especially considering there are other students studying in much less hospitable countries.  What is most important, however, is that getting a quality education and learning valuable, transferable skills is something that should never be taken for granted, no matter the location, no matter the context, and only heightened by its international nature.

Sources used:





Friends can Take You Anywhere

I’ve come to realize the importance of making friends quickly in a place where you knew almost no one before, and the power that making these new friends can bring is amazing.  Friends can turn the worst day of your life into a fun night on the town where your troubles melt away, or your friends can transform into the most reliable confidants with fresh perspectives on any issue that comes to mind.  Good friends are impartial in their sincere advice, “hearty in their approbation and lavish in their praise”, as Dale Carnegie said.  As often as I try to surround myself by good friends, I also try to be a good friend because friendship is a two way street.  In the case of a new environment, friends can make all the difference between a positive and negative experience, and a little hospitality can most definitely bring out the positive.

I have two examples to illustrate this positive attitude to friendship: First, I was in Paris last weekend and while I should have been enjoying my trip, initially I was not.  I was in a completely new city with no one that I knew.  Everyone had already determined his or her friend group and I appeared to be the odd man out.  Walking the streets of Paris alone that first Friday night, I was determined to include myself in one of the groups for the rest of the weekend by being a little more proactive and demonstrating some hospitality on my part.  The next day our class was given a bike tour of the city, and I opened up to one particularly nice group from the University of Missouri.  In my exchanges, I made sure to ask them lots of questions, show them that I genuinely cared about who they were and what they did, and arouse in them an eager want to be my friend in return.  After the bike tour, this particular group invited me on their escapade to the Eiffel Tower, The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and the Arc de Triumphe, and we all took some pretty awesome pictures together while getting to know each other.  These new friends showed me the simplest form of hospitality (acceptance and inclusion), to which I was incredibly thankful for, and because of that my entire trip was made so much better.

Friends don’t just reside in pure social situations; they also arise from one’s job.  I’ve been at my internship for several weeks now and while I was absolutely loving everything I was doing, I was also worried that I wasn’t connected with my colleagues beyond the pleasantries of day-to-day conversation.  I could tell that they knew I was working hard and that they appreciated the quality of the work I produced, but for some reason I wasn’t sure they fully accepted me as part of the team.  That was until last Thursday, when my colleagues invited me to a social get together with the London Sales Office, a separate Marriott office that handles smaller bookings to all the Marriott hotels in London.  It was an extremely fun night with delicious food (including some of the best cheesecake I’ve ever had, seriously), champagne, tours of the hotel, and an atmosphere away from my desk in which to talk with my colleagues as more than just an associate.  I really felt like one of the team members that night and I went into work the next day knowing that as much as I care about my colleagues, I know they care about me just as much if not more.

These types of relationships, ones rooted in acceptance, inclusion, and appreciation, mean more to me than any number of physical gifts I could get from the same people.  It has been said that one of the deepest human desires is to feel important and I have to agree; I feel very important when I’m surrounded by so many amazing friends, and each one I make adds to that feeling of importance.  So consider that when you are ever feeling unimportant; make the effort to surround yourself with a few of your friends and you’ll be right as rain in no time.


What’s in a Name? Everything.

“A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

-Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People*

I thought it was appropriate to write about the importance that proper names have while reading Romeo and Juliet for my Shakespeare in London class.  One of the most famous lines from Shakespeare’s immortal play was spoken by Juliet herself: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet.”  It’s obvious that Juliet never took a course in human relations, because if I greeted “Rose” by calling her “Jessica”, it doesn’t matter how sweet she smells, I’ve probably made her quite upset.

All jokes aside, names are incredibly important, especially our own name to ourselves.  Each and every one of us longs to hear or see our own name.  We love the sound of our name when somebody calls it.  We even imagine that our name is being said, only to look up from whatever we’ve been doing and realize that it was never spoken.  If we apply this type of thinking to the world around us, we can understand that everyone loves to hear the sound of his or her own name.  This is a fundamental truth about human nature that few people appreciate.  Moreover, knowledge of this truth and its application in life can definitely help in getting along with people.

For example, I recently began work at Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel as a Sales and Marketing Intern.  The Sales and Marketing department has 17 employees in it, each with a specific role, function, and of course, a name.  Rather than being daunted by the amount of new names I would have to memorize, I made it my goal to learn everyone’s first name and his or her role within the company by my second day. The effect of accomplishing this goal was immediate; not only did I avoid the awkwardness and embarrassment of asking for any of my colleagues’ names again but I also contributed to the efficiency of the office by knowing exactly where everyone was and what he or she did, so as to accomplish tasks that required collaboration with my coworkers more quickly.  In addition, I am sure my colleagues appreciated the fact that they weren’t badgered 2 or 3 times for their name in the course of my first few days at work.

Now 17 people may not seem like a lot to learn, but now try the entire class and staff that make up my study abroad program, numbering around 270 people, and the game has changed.   Granted, I don’t know all of these people and their names as of yet as I’ve only introduced myself to a fraction so far.  However, I make an effort to try and learn the name of every person I meet for the first time, going to great lengths to make sure that person’s name sticks in my mind.  So far I’ve had a lot of success from this, as everyone has been extremely friendly and pleasant to me instead of annoyed and subsequently disinterested in me when I couldn’t remember his or her name.

The point I’m trying to make with all of this is that it is crucial to remember a person’s name if you want a good relationship.  It doesn’t matter if the person is a colleague, a friend, a client, or a family member, everyone’s name is important to him or her, so therefore it’s important to you.  Think about a time when someone forgot your name and how that made you feel.  You most certainly would not want that same feeling brought about any new friends or coworkers.  It’s another dimension to hospitality, making someone feel as if you truly care about him when you use his proper name in conversation.

As for the methodology, whatever works for you in remembering something as specific as a new person’s name is what you should use.  Whether it’s using adjectives to convey a personality (Marvelous Maria) or maybe associating something unique with the person (Darrel always wears dark brown shoes), or even using the name in coversation a few times, use the trick that works for you.  A colleague of mine told me that repeating something to yourself 7 times will make it stick with your brain longer, and revisiting the thought throughout the day also seems to help an idea or a name stay with me.  Whatever the trick of the trade happens to be, make sure it is as lasting as that person’s name.

*An entire chapter on the importance of names in our society can be found in Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, a book that I am currently reading.  Stay tuned in the “Reflections and Selections” page for a full review.


The Great Room

My London Internship

Living in London as I have been doing for the past week and a half might be one challenge but working in this enormous city is something else entirely!  I began my first day of work on Friday at Grosvenor House – A JW Marriott Hotel as a sales and marketing intern and going into the experience I had no idea what the day would hold for me or how my colleagues would treat me.  Fortunately, my first day was made tremendously easier by the fact that I am working in industry where friendliness and hospitality means good business, and I was welcomed into the team with open arms.  My initial introduction to the entire team was actually during the morning “stand-up” meeting where staff achievements, goals, and events are announced and celebrated for all to see.  It was a moving first impression, having no knowledge of who these people are or what they do, and yet standing next to them as they revealed the hundreds of rooms they’ve booked for a specific event or exchanged ideas on how to remember a guest’s name.  I instantly felt like one of the team, a feeling that organizations seldom impart so quickly and seamlessly into new employees but which this team managed to do in 15 minutes.

After the morning stand-up, I was introduced to various members of the staff to find out what they did and also why they love working for Marriott.  The coolest thing about this was meeting people from all over the world including Italy, Spain, Australia, and the Netherlands, who all have an appreciation for hotels and, more importantly, Marriott as their company of choice.  Each team member took the time to meticulously explain what he or she did and how it relates to the overall goals and vision of both Grosvenor House and of Marriott International.  It was incredibly interesting to see how many different roles and processes there are in a sales department for a luxury hotel, and how each one contributes to keeping the hotel as busy as possible throughout the year.

Moreover, I was also taken on a tour of the property, which included a look at the historic Great Room–Europe’s oldest and largest ballroom.  Lucky for me it was being decorated for an event that night and it looked absolutely breath-taking!  The Great Room, which originally operated as an indoor ice-skating rink, can hold a maximum of 2,000 people and is adorned with 8 crystal chandeliers.  Many important people have dined and danced at Grosvenor House, and the hotel is famous for a number of events including the Royal Catalonian Ball.

Finally, I was given a coffee table book on the history of the hotel and wow does Grosvenor House have a history!  Constructed in 1929, this hotel managed to stay open through the Great Depression and World War II, has gone under hundreds of millions of dollars in renovations, and continues to hold over the top banquets and fundraisers for some of the biggest corporations, non-profits, and celebrities in the world.

I am in awe of the fact that I will be working in a 5-star hotel as storied as Grosvenor House and I cannot wait to grow personally and professionally from this experience.  As my role in the hotel begins to take shape, I am looking forward to contributing to the history of an already historic luxury hotel.