Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Gilbert

David Gilbert

President - Hospitality Group, Heartland Payment Systems

With more than 30 years of hospitality experience and a track record of leading successful growth while developing and maintaining brand identity and implementing strategic change, David Gilbert is responsible for the growth and development of Heartland’s portfolio and services within several industries, including restaurants, lodging and affiliated markets. Prior to joining Heartland, the nation’s 5th largest payment processor, Mr. Gilbert was the chief operating officer of the National Restaurant Association (NRA), the restaurant industry’s largest and most respected trade organization. In this role from 2009-2012, Mr. Gilbert focused on guiding the organization in its ongoing efforts to provide and develop valuable products, services and benefits to help the industry and the Association’s members. He was also responsible for all operations, sales, business/product development, strategic relationships and financial analysis of the association and its subsidiaries. Before the NRA, Mr. Gilbert spent several years as a restaurant and hospitality industry consultant, and held several executive positions with national chains, including chief administrative officer with Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., executive vice president and chief administrative officer with Shoney’s Inc., and executive director of development with Applebee’s International, Inc. His background also includes operations, product development and management experience in the quick service, casual dining and family dining segments. A resident of Nashville, TN, Mr. Gilbert holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant administration from Florida State University. He is also a member of the National Restaurant Association, the International Council of Shopping Centers and the West Virginia University Hospitality Board of Advisors.

Mr. Gilbert can be contacted at 888-798-3131 ext. 2281 or david.gilbert@e-hps.com

Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.