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  • Writer's pictureAdele Gutman Milne, CHBA, CHDM

How to Rank #1 in the USA on Tripadvisor with the General Manager of the Perry Lane Hotel Savannah

Consistency, Culture, Communication, Collaboration, and Celebration are just the start of these Inspiring Tips from Matthew Douzuk, General Manager of the Perry Lane Hotel in Savannah, ranked as the #1 Hotel in the USA on Tripadvisor for 2023.

If you are looking for the path to astonishing results in loyalty, passion, and enthusiasm among your associates and your guests, I promise you if you put these concepts to work at your hotel, restaurant, or any service industry business, you will see remarkable results!

Please listen in and share this thought-provoking conversation with Matthew Douzuk!

How does a hospitality leader cultivate passion and commitment to excellence?

Douzuk is quick to praise the team and the focused commitment to excellence they bring to their work daily. But how does he create an environment where people strive to do better every day?

Adele’s Eight Great Takeaways for Reputation Success:

...yes, these are Adele Gutman's takeaways from this podcast episode but don't miss out on listening to the podcast and hearing directly from Matthew Douzuk. I'm sure you will find it time well spent!

Clear Communication

It’s the team who delivers the results, so making every guest feel the warm welcome of hospitality can’t just be the GM’s goal; the team has to feel the goals are theirs. They need to know the how and why behind our goals, so they take time before every shift for team communication and celebration.

While some hotels have limited or eliminated stand-up meetings due to staffing issues, the Perry Lane Hotel makes time for multiple Stand-up meetings each day throughout the departments. No employee gets out on the floor without a stand-up or line-up meeting before their shift. This keeps everyone excited and laser-focused on excellence and makes every guest feel welcome every single day.

Accountability and Ownership:

Douzuk believes in keeping a scoreboard for all goals and accomplishments so everyone is accountable to each other. When challenges and opportunities arise during the day, the team members are empowered to use their creativity and passion for hospitality to come up with solutions without having to check with a manager unless they determine management support would be helpful. Team members are respected as experts in their area. When needed, leadership is there to give guidance and support to clear away barriers to the teams’ success.

Adele agrees that challenging your team to a big beautiful goal and watching those scores soar day by day, week by week, and month by month makes the team feel like winners! A leader’s job is to ensure the team always feels like they are winning or learning, always growing and challenging the status quo. An NPS-style calculation of review scores is a great metric to add to your P&L meeting and your daily/night audit report so everyone can watch your scores rise along with your revenue.

Creating Culture Through Consistent Onboarding

After carefully selecting associates for personality, orientation sets the tone for employee expectations, success, and future growth. A philosophical commitment is required to stay on track, as it can be tempting to derail operational excellence when you give in to shortcuts such as hurried or inconsistent onboarding, training, or continued career development. A culture of excellence needs to be consistent to have a team that trusts and respects each other and enjoys working together to meet goals and challenges.

Perry Lane has a strong commitment to investing time into detailed onboarding and training plans that need to be signed off on by both management and employees. Inter-departmental cross-training and collaboration open the doors of opportunity for internal transfers while also breaking departmental information silos. Not only do team members benefit, but guest satisfaction scores rise when everyone understands the interdependent nature of departments within the organization.

The team all understand the difference between Purpose and Function. While we all have our own functions to perform, the team shares one Purpose… to make travelers feel truly welcome.


Inclusion and courage are essential elements of collaboration. You never know where the next great idea may come from. So often, it isn’t from the executive office but from the line staff who can have a front-row perspective on what guests find less than wonderful. Hotels succeed when 100% of the team is fully engaged. Great leaders encourage all team members to speak up when they observe service “defects” so that the team can collaborate on solutions. Celebrate the team for finding defects, identifying root causes, and suggesting ways to avoid those problems in the future.

Let’s break the silos! Include the commercial team in the conversation. Mahatma Gandhi famously said that happiness is when what we think, what we say, and what we do are in harmony. In order to have full alignment, we must recognize that operational excellence IS marketing, and authentic and aligned marketing communications make operational excellence possible. Interdepartmental understanding and collaboration to resolve friction points make take time but ensure the best outcome for the guests, the team members, and the hotel’s revenue success.

Continuous Improvement and Curiosity:

You want your team to learn to question everything. As a team, let’s discover not only what happened wrong the previous day but also how it was handled, how we might have handled it even better next time, why did it happen, and how we can ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Matthew believes in the Five Whys technique to help ensure the team fully explores root causes to ascertain the simplest way to avoid similar situations moving forward. It is a great technique. I will be sure to put together a separate post to delve into the Five Whys and other helpful techniques to investigate service defects for optimal outcomes, so please subscribe to the podcast to learn more!

Training through Roll Playing

When you hire for personality, you get to shape each associate’s understanding of what great hospitality looks like. Roll playing is a great way to anchor skills in team members who might not be rich with experience but do have a natural desire to make guests happy.

Celebrate the Wins and Continuous Improvement

Telling stories of hospitality excellence at the Pre-shift lineups and celebrating both winning and learning are great ways to build confidence, which is another essential element for outstanding service.

Embrace Feedback From the Team and the Guests Every Day

Listening to the voice of the customer is not a once-in-a-while activity for hotels with the highest levels of guest satisfaction. Many times, the line staff, reservations team, sales team, and others are in a unique position to recognize and report on friction points. Each team member has their own perspective on how a problem can be addressed. Hotel leaders who embrace feedback as an opportunity for creativity and innovation may find themselves winning the hearts of their guests and enjoying the stellar online and offline reputation that Matthew Douzuk and his team at the Perry Lane Hotel are enjoying right now.

Congratulations to everyone at the Perry Lane Hotel!

Many thanks to Matthew Douzak for sharing your inspiring story with us on Get Great Guest Reviews!

If you are the General Manager or owner of a hotel with a stellar 5-Star Review Reputation, I want to interview you! Please feel free to make my day and reach out to me at the links below.

If you would like some help implementing these ideas, it would be my pleasure to make the process easy for you. Please set up a time for us to chat on my Calendly!

Twitter: @AdeleGutman

Apple Podcasts:

Thank you for listening, subscribing, and sharing!

Have a great week, and keep reaching for the stars!



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