Editorial Board   

Mr. Belmonte

Steven Belmonte

CEO, Vimana Franchise Systems LLC

Since becoming the youngest general manager in the history of Holiday Inn at the age of 18 and later buying the hotel he started at, to holding the title of longest standing President of a national franchised hotel chain while at the helm of the Ramada hotel chain, Steven J. Belmonte brings new meaning to the phrase “from the mailroom to the Boardroom.” In 2002, Mr. Belmonte returned to his entrepreneurial roots and launched Hospitality Solutions LLC, a full-service, nationwide consultation firm specializing in lodging industry issues at the hotel and corporate level. Drawing on over 35 years of experience and key contacts both inside and outside of the industry, Hospitality Solutions was specifically designed to offer franchise negotiation services for hotel, restaurant, and quick service restaurant owners nationwide. In 2002, Mr. Belmonte launched Vimana Franchise Systems LLC. In May 2011, Vimana Franchise Systems launched the Centerstone brand as a three-segment franchise designed to create a fair and cost effective model for the hospitality industry. In November 2011, Key West Inns was re-launched under the Vimana Franchise ownership umbrella as a fun and uniquely themed leisure brand. Prior to Hospitality Solutions, for nearly 11 years Mr. Belmonte was President and CEO of the Ramada hotel chain, which had over 1,000 hotels and nearly 135,000 hotel rooms throughout the United States. He also served as Executive Vice President of the Cendant Hotel Division. Major accomplishments included more than doubling the size of the chain, adding the Ramada Limited and Ramada Plaza Hotel tiers, and launching the bold "Ramada's In/Holiday's Out" advertising campaign. As part of his plan to solidly position the Ramada chain in the upper-mid-tier segment, Mr. Belmonte also masterminded the revolutionary customer service initiative, Personal Best Hospitality, which offered tuition reimbursement and a variety of other incentives to foster a career path in the hotel industry. Please visit http://www.vimanafs.com for more information.

Mr. Belmonte can be contacted at 407-654-5540 or steve@vimanafs.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.