When I was in college in 2006, I started part-time at the front desk. I really had not had any hospitality experience. [The job] worked with my school schedule, and I just fell in love with the industry. I continued from there and went from front-desk worker to general manager in about nine years.
I've always enjoyed working with people, and I like the variety and the fast pace of the work. It's never the same, so I certainly enjoy that, and just delivering great service and caring for people. It's just a lot of fun.
Lam: What were you doing before you got into hospitality?
Fischer: I’ve performed church music for probably 25 years. I have degrees in music and church music from the University of Cincinnati and the Cleveland Institute of Music, but then when I got into the hospitality industry, it really became a career opportunity for me.
Once I graduated from school, I then went into sales. I was the director of sales for one property, and then supervised two properties. When we were opening the Fairfield in downtown Tulsa, I was promoted to general manager to open that hotel.
Lam: What does good service mean to you?
Fischer: Hospitality is mostly centered on taking care of people. Obviously, we sell hotel rooms, but the level of service that we try and deliver everyday is so important. We really focus on trying to exceed the guests' expectations. Guests are having higher and higher expectations because there's so much competition in the market, so service really becomes the deliverable that you can measure. Yes, everybody's got a lot of the same basic things, like beds, but the level of service that we provide to people is really what keeps them coming back.
In the hotel industry, supporting your team members and taking good care of them is important. If they're satisfied, then they're going to take care of the guests, and the guests are going to be satisfied. It's a bottom-up approach. If you don't have satisfied employees, then you're not going to have satisfied guests.
Lam: How have you seen guests’ expectations change during your seven-year career?
Fischer: I've seen it change a lot: There’s social media, a lot of reviews on TripAdvisor, and things like that. Guests have access to so much more information, so they're looking for feedback. People can be very open and honest [on those sites], and I think that's a trend that is going to continue.
We read the reviews, and respond to them. I also read the specific Marriott surveys that they send out as well. That's a regular part of my job: to get back to guests and make sure they're satisfied, answer the good and the bad, and try to use [the feedback] as learning opportunities for the staff. Even if we felt that we did a good job, the perception of the guests may be different, so we have to be aware of what their perception is as well.