Falling Forward - Karen Gilbride - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 149

Joining the podcast this week is the force behind some of IHG’s most dynamic brands. She’s a hospitality veteran who works to create seamless end-to-end guest experiences. Meet Karen Gilbride, Vice President of Avid Hotels, Atwell Suites, and Garner Hotels at IHG. 

Karen joins Host Dan Ryan to explore IHG’s newest brand Garner, and the design philosophy behind it. Additionally, Karen shares the power that mentorship programs can have, the nuances of designing for staff and employees, and how to build a brand. 

  • Hospitality is the feeling you get when you visit someone's house and feel welcomed and cared for. Everyday the hospitality industry works to make you feel like you’re visiting a close friend when you stop by a hotel.
  • While new construction suits a lot of owners, there is a need to provide owners with a conversion pathway as well. By taking existing properties, owners can update old buildings and save on cost
  • When designing a hotel room, starting with foam core helps you get an initial feel for the size and shape of the room. Once you have that established, consider where the furniture goes, and how the guests will flow through the room. 
  • When building a brand you have two customers to think about. First is the guest who may check in on a given night, the second is the owner. If you can’t get an owner to invest in the brand, there won’t be a hotel for a guest to check in to. 
  • When picking furniture for a hotel, it’s important to not only consider the guest, but the hotel staff who have to interact with it as well. If a side table looks nice, but is too heavy to move, it quickly becomes an obstacle to clean around. 
  • Any guest experience is about attention to details and understanding what your standards are. If you’re only going to do 5 main things, understand what they are, and execute them to perfection.
  • Having a strong foundation of people is crucial for any business, but doubly so in hospitality. Through mentoring programs, new and rising talent can be recognized, and given the resources they need to flourish. 

Quote of the Show:
  • “I realized that it really is about high attention to detail and standards, being clear about what the standards are, training people against it, and then executing.” - Karen Gilbride


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Falling Forward - Karen Gilbride - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 149
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