Editorial Board   Guest Author

Ms. Heston

Michelle Heston

Regional Director of Public Relations, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Michelle Heston serves as the Regional Director of Public Relations for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. In this role she oversees the marketing communication and public relations efforts for eight luxury holdings in the western US and Hawaii. In addition to media outreach, advertising and brand communication activities, she is responsible for exploring, cultivating and leveraging cross marketing relationships for the brand. She proudly spearheads Fairmont's regional “green” marketing efforts. Working with the California Coastal Commission for the past several years, Ms. Heston coordinated Fairmont’s five drop-in cleanup sites across the Golden State (Newport Beach, Santa Monica, San Jose, San Francisco and Sonoma). Annually over 1,000 colleagues of Fairmont accompanied by friends, family members and recruits scour the state’s inland waterways and beaches for litter as part of the annual California Coastal Cleanup Day. Ms. Heston also mentors hotels in the region to serve as environmental ambassadors in their local communities. Working with each property’s green team she leads the design and implementation of each property’s eco-signature project. These projects include relationships with Heal the Bay, CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) and the Sonoma Ecology Center in Northern California. Supporting Fairmont’s commitment to sustainable tourism and environmental stewardship, she recently designed and coordinated an impressive fundraising campaign for California’s “Save our Parks” initiative. She has earned an MBA and regularly lectures in the areas of marketing, public relations, advertising and social media. Married and a mother of two daughters she and her family currently reside in eco-conscious Marin County, California.

Ms. Heston can be contacted at 707-939-2477 or michelle.heston@fairmont.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.