Sustaining a winning corporate culture is extremely challenging in an industry where the average turnover rate is 73.8%. This means the average hotel loses six plus employees every month. Not so at the Marriott Courtyard and Residence Inn at Lake Nona Town Center. This team is different. The retention rate at this hotel is much higher than the national average. They rarely lose employees, and when they do, many times it is due to employees excelling and getting promoted to other locations.
I had the privilege of sitting down with General Manager, John Luciew, and Director of Sales, Connie Steinwart to find out what makes this Marriott a place that employees don’t want to leave. It’s important to mention that an organization’s culture, good or bad, is dictated by the actions of those at the top. As the General Manager, John is at the top at this Marriott Courtyard and Residence Inn location. The Marriott culture is built around the following five cornerstones:
1. Integrity. They believe in doing business ethically - doing the right thing, even when no one is watching, and doing what’s best for the guest.
2. Community. They believe in being contributing members to the community they are in. One of the ways they do this is by participating in a “Share Day” that supports feeding children in need. They also believe in being good citizens through a recycling program where they recycle used bottles of soaps and shampoo, as well as plastics.
3. Quality. They believe in operating with the highest quality service, as well as maintaining the quality of their property. This cornerstone began in the development stage with the influence of Lake Nona’s developer- Tavistock Development Company.
4. Profitability. Companies do exist to make money and they believe hitting profit goals is just as important as the other four cornerstones.
5. Fun. They believe that a fun environment makes for happier and more satisfied employees. They are good at celebrating birthdays, having monthly lunches to celebrate the victories from the past month, and always finding ways to recognize and appreciate employees.
These five cornerstones are brought together daily in the hotel stand-up meeting. Every day they bring the team together to discuss and give brief updates on the most relevant issues such as guest experience and rankings, up and coming events in the area, and the main focus for the day.
Before we ended a great interview, Connie made it a point to let me know that it is John who sets the example for a winning culture here (because he wasn’t going to mention it himself). Employees always see the actions of the top leaders and will follow those actions regardless of any words they say. The leadership team willingly jumps in to do whatever it takes. No one is too good to do anything that needs to be done. There is good reason why the Lake Nona Courtyard and Residence Inn is ranked in the top 1% within the Marriott brand in customer satisfaction!
“Take care of your associates, associates will take care of guests, and guests will come back”
– Bill Marriott, Founder of the Marriott brand