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  • Writer's pictureAdele Gutman Milne, CHBA, CHDM

Dr. Peter Ricci, Champion for the Revolution of Progress and Flexibility in Hospitality Leadership.

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Dr. Peter Ricci has been honored as a Hospitality Hero and a Top 25 Minds by HSMAI and A Global Top 100 Most Power Leaders and Thirty Most Influential Educators in Hospitality by International Hospitality Institute. Undoubtedly, Peter is one of the most influential leaders in our industry. He truly deserves all these honors and more for applying his unrelenting yet loving, gentle pressure on the industry to move the culture forward in a positive and more richly rewarding direction.

As Clinical Professor and Director of Hospitality and Tourism for Florida Atlantic University, Dr. Peter Ricci has his finger on the pulse of the dreams, frustrations, challenges, and opportunities of today’s goal-oriented and aspiring hospitality professionals. In today’s episode, Dr. Ricci shares his insights on why reputation and guest feedback management are more important than ever and how hospitality leaders can best empower and inspire our associates to deliver excellence in hospitality to every guest.

As a former vice president of sales, marketing, and revenue for a boutique hotel collection for 20 years, getting great guest reviews, referrals, and recommendations was one of my key responsibilities. I believe an energized team of cross-trained associates who take pride in creative problem-solving and continuous improvement is as fundamental to revenue optimization as a great website, booking engine, and pricing strategy. Therefore, I am excited to share my conversation with you, both operations and commercial leaders, with the extraordinary Dr. Peter Ricci.

Please listen to the podcast so you won’t miss a single concept that you might like to try to progress and elevate your employee and guest experience.

  • Why being in a state of flux is an exciting opportunity for growth

  • How to infuse technology without “tipping over the Apple cart”

  • One hotel’s big tip for offering flexibility in scheduling

  • What the Country Club industry envisions for the future of work-life quality

We also chatted about great books to read now:

Show up, by Anthony Melchiorri :1

Unreasonable Hospitality by Will Guidara

Peter is great to listen to in his own words, so instead of writing my perspective, here are a few of my favorite quotes from our conversation:

Adele’s Favorite Peter Ricci Quote:

“…the better the service, the more the finance on the top and the bottom. And so in the reduction in turnover, it’s less costly, so it just makes financial sense as well. But that’s always the missing piece. ‘Oh, you want to add headcount? We can’t afford it.’ Well, how about what we’re spending on turnover? Spending on retraining.

Let’s try it, at least. All I say is try it; then you can see where it goes.”

On The impact of technology on the guest experience:

“We have all these mixed generations staying in our hotels and coming to our restaurants and going to our theme parks. Some of them are very techy and want the technology, others want the handheld personalized experience, and then most are in the middle. So we have to meet the guests where they want to be met, and technology’s not the one size; put it there and walk away. It’s just not going to work for everybody.”

On Implementing Co-Department Head Positions for Enhancing Work-Life Quality:

“There are so many creative things we can do. There are workshare roles. Of course, it sounds very pricey off the top, but I think if people could have a four-day workweek of 40 hours and know that they can be alongside their significant other or family or spouse who’s working remotely and has three days together, we’d be a better viable career choice. There’s no doubt about it, and we probably give better guest service because we’re not burnt out. So, there are many things we can do ahead. At least we’re having these conversations, and at least some places are trying it…

We’re changing positions to match today’s workers and we're slowly getting there.”

On the need for changing the game for our culinary teams.

“Culinary has been on a disastrously downward trend on enrollments. Many culinary schools have closed, and it’s because of the hours people work once they graduate and the pay that they start at is a turn-off, once you borrow money for school. And yet when I get requests from our 1000+ employers that post jobs with us, culinary is there constantly. So obviously, we need to do something. And there’s a way to make the numbers work; we just have to be creative and bite the bullet.”

On The benefit of focusing on the guest experience with elevated expectations:

"I’m very pleased when I work with some of my hotel clients and they still have a 4.5 or a 4.7 and TripAdvisor because their rates are probably double or close to double prior to COVID. So if I’m spending $50 on lunch when I used to spend 30 I have higher expectations and a little more likely to complain because it’s coming out of my pocket faster. So I think guest service, right now, really needs to be emphasized in our companies and used as a tool for guest engagement and likelihood to return. That could turn into a huge financial benefit right now, allowing the leader to take that initiative. It’s always been important, but I think right now, it’s super important to keep the guests happy because of the prices we’re charging.”

100% YES, Peter Ricci!

If you let your guests leave even slightly irritated, you leave money on the table. Every guest who comes through your door can share their experience with others. Do you want them to share their enthusiastic recommendations and return with all their friends?

Or do you want them to complain that they didn’t feel the experience lived up to the hype and wasn’t worth the money?

Your team members will rise to the occasion beyond what you can imagine when they feel inspired, empowered, and appreciated. Flexibility in scheduling, a bucket of benefits to choose from, and a feeling of fun at work are central to Work Life Quality. In my experience, a guest-centric culture of collaboration and continuous improvement is a key element that makes work meaningful. Workers feel successful when they get a sun shower of praise from their guests daily. Leadership is a big part of making that possible.

If you want to learn more about making every guest and valued team member feel cared for, appreciated, and respected, keep tuned into this conversation and subscribe to Get Great Guest Reviews!

Please take the time to comment, subscribe and share this podcast with business leaders passionate about elevating loyalty by creating a culture of hospitality and continuous improvement. And don’t forget to check out our previous articles for tips you can apply immediately to your own business.

Hoteliers, would you like a free strategy session for your hotel? Feel free to connect with me and send a request. I love to help hospitality professionals elevate their productivity and profitability.

Until next time, keep reaching for the stars!

Adele Gutman


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