Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Habeeb

Robert Habeeb

President & Chief Executive Officer, First Hospitality Group, Inc.

Robert Habeeb is a seasoned professional with more than 25 years of high profile, multiunit experience in hotel, resort and food and beverage management. Throughout his career, he has successfully operated hospitality businesses in virtually every aspect of the industry, including luxury, select service, resort hotels, restaurants, and golf and ski operations—in every setting imaginable. After serving as the chief operating officer of the U. S. resort subsidiary of London’s Rank Group, PLC (owners of the Hard Rock Café’s) where he was responsible for a multifaceted portfolio of hotel, restaurant and leisure businesses, Mr. Habeeb joined First Hospitality Group, Inc. in 1997. In 2015, due to his wide reaching industry relationships, proven track record of innovation regarding development opportunities, superior operating performance, and the long tenure of his management team, he was promoted from president and COO to president and CEO. A recognized industry leader, he has won a series of awards, including the Illinois Hotel Association's Hotelier of the Year Award and Global Hotelier of the Year. With a strong passion for educating those pursuing a career in the hospitality industry, Mr. Habeeb serves as a member of the adjunct faculty of Chicago’s Roosevelt University, where he teaches at a graduate level in the Manfred Steinfeld School of Hospitality Management. He has served on numerous industry boards and brand advisory councils, including his current seats on the board of directors and executive committee of the American Hotel & Lodging Association and his previous chairmanship of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association.

Mr. Habeeb can be contacted at 847-299-9040 or rhabeeb@fhginc.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.