Greetings from the West Coast
“My favourite travel spots include sunny weather
and able to go swimming.”
Learn more about Bryan Kramer’s work in the United States. Here he runs a successful integrated hospitality business at CitizenM Boston, Seattle and Los Angeles. He works at HFC for 14 months now, as an Area Manager that thrives on empowering his team. According to Bryan, it is all about the spirit to serve that makes a great service the best service, “One thing I have learned in the hospitality industry is that we must choose the people with the right attitude and give them the right training to empower them,” Bryan says.
ABOUT | He is a family man and lives with his wife, 2 sons and 1 daughter in Seattle. He is a warm-weather person and his favourite travel spots include sunny weather and able to go swimming. He loves Hawaii, Mexico, and the Bahamas. Bryan says, “I like to do a lot of things, but two of my favourite hobbies are running and cooking. But I never do both at the same time!” Nowadays he trains with both his sons as a cross-country coach.
How did you first learn about HFC?
I first found out about HFC 18 months ago from a recruiter. Florence from VDB Executive Search sends me a message about the opportunity at a Holland-based company, operating in the United States. We had a good and long conversation, and my start date was February 2020.
What did you like the most at first sight about HFC?
The most exciting part is about the concept. What does integrated-facility management look like in the US? It was something new to me. It is a completely new concept in the United States. I worked in hotels for most of my life and never came across it. I was intrigued and was delighted with the new opportunity.
You work in hospitality most of your life?
I started in the hospitality industry in 1994 and I started in a hotel in 1999. Working in the hotels back then was a completely different idea and concept than it is today. Technology was not quite advanced yet, so people were not able to book hotels online. There was only telephone, faxed or walk-in reservations. Most rooms were booked thru a central reservation call centre.
How does a day as an Area Manager looks like?
A lot of my work is remote based. I have daily communications with my cleaning partners, check up on the hotel managers and organising things. There is always constant communication and connections. It is my job to build strong relationships, trying to build their trust and confidence remotely is different. It is very challenging and fun.
How challenging would you describe your position?
Flexibility and adaptability are something that gets tested all the time because in my work I deal with different people in different time zones. Everybody is different and I need to communicate on different levels. I do not have one management style, I let it work for everybody in every situation. So, the most challenging part for me is the time zones. I live in Seattle and I have one open hotel in my time zone. The next is in Boston. And most colleagues I deal with are in Amsterdam, Paris or on the East coast.
How do you manage your time?
The only thing I was able to, is to realise that I need to be HFC flexible in my work schedule. I try to break the day; I work for 4 hours and then later the day again 4 hours. It does not work for me to work straight through, because of the time zones in Amsterdam and all our other areas. It is fun and sometimes crazy, but I always go for it. Both go hand in hand.
What has been the most rewarding part of your role?
One of the most rewarding parts is the people. We are a service-based company and part of the service is meeting people. The impact that we have on employees is what I love the most. It is fun to help them strengthen them as a leader. What separates good leaders from regular leaders? I believe in the ability to mentor and pass on your knowledge.
What do you hope to see happen soon with HFC?
I hope that the world rebounds and that we can grow. Currently, HFC is growing and starting in new sectors of business. It is not only in hotels where we provide services but also in commercial sectors like the malls and offices. I think it is fun to be a part of the growth, to meet new colleagues with new ideas.
In your experience, what factors contribute to excellent customer service?
To be honest it is all about the people. In my career, I hired 500 people. We can train people and we can give a lot of people knowledge, but I cannot help them with their attitude. One thing I have learned in the hospitality industry is that we must choose the people with the right attitude and give them the training. It is about the spirit to serve. There is a difference between someone who enjoys cleaning and a person who cleans every day. The spirit and the passion had to be with you. You must have the people with the right attitude. Just having a bed in the room is not what it was anymore, then you can go to a hostel. Having a great product and the people with the right mindset and energy are the key elements.
What inspires you?
What inspires me the most is to build a future. I enjoy meeting new people and helping them to move forward. One of my mentors was like: you know Bryan, some of the people have the knowledge and they keep it. They think that this is what makes them different. But if you are not able to pass your skills onto other people, you are never going to be successful. Everyone must know how you do it and what your expectations are. When people understand your expectations, you are on the same page. When you share your knowledge, you empower people, you help them build their confidence.
One of my favourite stories is about the employee I hired in 2002. I interviewed her on Marco Island, and she was a lawyer in Uzbekistan. When she came to America, she was not able to find work in her career. She was denied by different offices because she did not have US-based experience. I hired her because she had the right attitude and spirit. Two years after that she became a room inspector. Again, two years later she was already a full-time supervisor. In 2019 when I came back to America she was working as a laundry manager in Seattle. Her growth proved that she was always trying to be better and learn more things to understand the business.
How do you define success?
I guess I can define success as the comfort in knowing that things are going to happen for you without pushing the envelope. When I wake up in the morning and I have 20 messages about what I must do, well, I do not see that as success. But if I see 2 or 3 messages that is a success. I always try to empower the people I work with and to trust their instinct. Ensure they trust their abilities. Everyone is going to make mistakes, if you are afraid to make mistakes you are never going to move forward.