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  • Writer's pictureAdele Gutman Milne, CHBA, CHDM

Julian Star Award Winning General Manager, Craig Poole talks about, Authentic, Selfless Hospitality

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

Last year, in 2021, I cherished a few conversations of my podcast conversations so much, that I had to revisit them. I feel this conversation is a timeless gift, whether you are an experienced hospitality leader, a brand new general manager or if you aspire to be a great general manager someday. If you are looking for a truly extraordinary leader to follow, listen to Craig Poole, President of Reading Hospitality and a recent recipient of Global Hospitality’s Julian Star Award, presented by the International Hospitality Institute.

My fellow podcaster friends, Kyle Allison and Greg Fregoso of Hospitality MD made a documentary about how Craig Poole transformed a community in the second poorest city in the country by launching the DoubleTree by Hilton in Reading Pennsylvania. Craig’s hospitality leadership philosophy is called, Follow Me and I will be Behind You. The film of the same name was a contest winner at the Reading Film Festival, and I encourage everyone to watch it and be inspired. I dare you not to shed a tear or two! Not only did the hotel change the trajectory of the lives of the people who worked there, but the hotel is also very profitable and one of the top-rated hotels on Tripadvisor in all of Pennsylvania.

I hope you will listen and have a new view of the beauty and power of authentic hospitality.

Here are a few highlights and concepts inspired by the conversation:

Authentic Hospitality

Craig regularly sends his hotel associates out to other hotels to experience their offerings and come back with thoughts about how to outshine the competition. A frequent comment his team members come away from other hotels with is, "It's just a hotel. What we have is authentic hospitality." Craig says about authentic hospitality, "When you have it, you don't need to advertise it. Just become it and people will know it."

Craig on Word of Mouth

"You want to do a job so well, they want to show other people how well you do it, so they come back with their friends."

On being creative and charting their own path for success:

"I can be like everybody else, or I can be successful"

Craig said that the spirit of hospitality that he embedded into the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Reading, he did so in full alignment with the mission and guiding values of Hilton and Doubletree. When I asked what he feels is holding other Hilton and Doubletree managers back from delivering the same hospitality worthy of 5-Star reviews, Craig simply said, "commitment". Indeed it takes a daily discipline to keep with mission, vision, values, and goals as the foremost focus of every employee every day, and that means daily huddles, storytelling, and nurturing, empathetic leadership.

Finally, Craig says he embraced a team of mostly marginalized locals, including felons who deserved a second chance, but what he looked for was "selfless people" who were ready to do "selfless work". "Selflessness is a joy", says Craig Poole, and "we're going to have a very good time."

Do you want to learn how to put more joy in your hospitality business, for your guests, your team, and your profitability? Please be sure to set up a time to chat with Adele:

Watch the film, Follow me and I will be behind you.

Do you have any questions about how to inspire 5-Star reviews? Please send them to and we will answer them directly with you or in a future episode of Get Great Guest Reviews, the podcast!

Thank you for listening!


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