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  • Writer's pictureAdele Gutman Milne, CHBA, CHDM

Carlo Carroccia, award-winning hotel manager, shares his process for phenomenal guest experiences.

This episode is a revisit to a 2021 conversation with one of the top General Managers in the United States, the serial award-winning Carlo Carroccia of Charlestowne Hotels.

Carlo is the Dual General Manager of the French Quarter Inn and the Spectator hotel in Charleston. Time and time again, both hotels under his governance keep showing up among the top 25 Hotels in the US on Tripadvisor. He’s not trying to be the #1 Hotel in the country on Tripadvisor. Instead, he is focused on creating a culture where every day, every employee is on a mission to make every guest experience a happy one.

Did you know that there are over 130 000 hotels in the USA?

I consider myself fortunate that three of the four USA hotels I worked with at Library Hotel Collection were rated by travelers among the top 25 hotels in the USA on the Best of the Best, Tripadvisor’s Travelers Choice Awards. According to contacts at Tripadvisor, the fourth hotel was very close behind the other three!

What do the Top 25 hotels have in common?

Hoteliers whose properties rank among the top guest-reviewed hotels in the country are all part of the very fortunate club in that they have learned the secret to what it takes to make guests happy. These guests are so happy they can’t help themselves from writing 5-star reviews, thanks to the kind, inspired and empowered team members who treated them like VIPs.

The secret these General Managers have is a process, a daily discipline, and a philosophical commitment to continuously improve the guest experience.

My favorite highlights from the conversation:

1. Keep a Sense of Humility:
"It's very important in business to keep a sense of humility," recommends Carlo. Remember that your guests chose your hotel out of all the dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of other options. They are trusting their precious time and money to you on this experience, and they are counting on you to deliver the great experience your brand promises. If everyone walks out happy, your staff will feel successful, and your guests will return and tell their friends. Hopefully, if you treat them wonderfully, many will share their great experience with the world online as well.

2. Authenticity is the Key to Success:
Be honest about what your experience is. Carlo says, "If you learn to do what makes you unique and authentic of who you are, whatever that is, people will seek you for it."

3. Communication is important:
Team communication is essential for finding opportunities to reduce friction and elevate happiness.
Team members should be on a mission to understand each guest's hopes and preferences, so we can deliver above-and-beyond experiences. Look for clues to guests' needs and be thoughtful. This is hospitality.

FYI- There are many excellent tools, such as Beekeeper or Nudge, that you can use to enhance internal communication.

4. Ask the Right Questions:
If you are committed to continuous improvement at making guests happy, you'll want to ask questions that give you the customer insights you need to learn and grow. Carlo suggests asking, "is there anything we can be doing better? That question has a chance of giving you a meaning full insight. Too often, when we ask the classic, "How was your stay?" the answer will be "fine," which is not helpful to our mission of elevating our guest experience.

Take the guests' "temperature" during the stay to help find any issues during the stay. Then. take the small issue and turn it into a huge opportunity to delight the guest with your level of care Yes, there are many tools you can use to automate an inquiry to the guests' contentment, but this should be on top of and not replacing human contact. Every time a staff member passes a guest, they should make eye contact, "sparkle a little sunshine" on the guest and greet them. For example, I always liked to say, Good morning, How are you? Do you have everything you need? This always generated a bright smile from the guests, and if there was anything that would make them more comfortable, I often heard about it at this point, which allowed our team to become hospitality heroes quickly!

5. Trust the Process:
Carlo recommends don't focus on the result. Keep your team focused instead on doing the right things for the right reasons. If you do that every day, you will get great results more often than not.

"If you make a mistake for the right reasons, I'd rather that than get the positive results done with incorrect intentions."

Great reviews are the result of great culture and operational/ marketing excellence. It is a measure of great work building guest loyalty; it is not the loyalty itself. Loyalty comes from making each guest feel cared for, appreciated, and respected at every encounter. Focusing on reviews themselves can have undesired consequences, such as annoying guests with review requests or, worse, staff members looking for temporary tricks to get five-star reviews rather than earning them. There is no long-term value in tricks, which can often do more damage than good for your reputation.

Please enjoy this episode and learn from a master!

The process works. It works for Carlo, it worked for me, and it works for many others who have achieved the highest review scores. I know these principles will work for you or anyone who wants to learn how to make guest happiness a revenue growth strategy for their hospitality or service business.

If you would like to learn how to implement these principles at your hotels or portfolio, please get in touch with Adele at or subscribe at

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