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Podcast: How Hotels have Fared During COVID-19

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Podcast featuring Dr. Marie Gould Harper, Dean, Wallace E. Boston School of Business and
Cara Dipietro, General Manager, Fairfield Inn & Suites in White Marsh, Maryland

Few industries have suffered as much as the hospitality industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this episode, Dr. Marie Gould Harper talks to Cara Dipietro, area General Manager of the Fairfield Inn & Suites in White Marsh, Maryland. Learn about the impacts to hotels during 2020 and creative ways that hotels are attracting customers through packages like day use rates where families can get away for short periods of time. Also learn how important it is for hospitality leaders to motivate and engage employees during this extremely challenging time.

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Read the Transcript:

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Hello everyone. This is Marie Gould Harper. Welcome to our podcast. Today, we have the honor of speaking with Cara Dipietro the area General Manager of the Fairfield Inn & Suites in White Marsh, Maryland. White Marsh is about an hour North of Baltimore. Cara, welcome, and thank you for sharing your time with us today.

Cara Dipietro: Oh, thank you. I’m so excited to be here.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: We are so excited to have you. But before we get into the topic of the day, tell us about yourself.

Cara Dipietro: Well, Baltimore native, I have a family. I have two little babies. They’re my pride and joy before my job and everything else. I have a daughter, she’s four. I have my son he’s almost three in January. And I was just promoted this past week.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Congratulations.

Cara Dipietro: Thank you, to area General Manager. So now I am overseeing our Fairfield Inn and Suites, White Marsh and our Residents Inn, White Marsh. So I am looking forward to the opportunity and the new challenges that are ahead of me, but it’s all going to be worth it.

I’ve been in the hotel industry for will be going on 20 years this year. And graduate of University of Baltimore, worked my way through college and through the ranks of hospitality. I did every job possible and have loved every minute of it, could not imagine doing anything else. So could never have imagined that a simple “Good morning” could turn into a podcast.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: I wanted to address that just to tell our audience how we met. I was actually on my way back home from our Administrative Assistant’s wedding and I was tired. So I just looked up a hotel that I could stay at. And I ended up back at Cara’s location.

When I got there, they were telling me how it was almost full. And I was really surprised because I was thinking during the pandemic so many people not staying on the road and had a very enjoyable night, excellent service from the hotel.

And when I was checking out the next morning I ran into Cara and we started talking and I think because I had such a pleasant experience and it was my first time staying at a hotel since COVID, I had to share with her how impressed I was. So kudos to you, Cara, because you and your staff did an excellent job.

Cara Dipietro: Thank you. It was really my team. I will never take full credit for anything, it’s them. We would not be successful if it wasn’t for, I’m going to say my girls, because we rank the very few men that work here.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Okay. Well, everyone did an excellent job and it was very noticeable that it was a team effort, just how smoothly, everything flowed. And also, I just want to commend you because those are signs of a good leader.

Cara Dipietro: Thank you.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: And some of the things that we were talking about, strategic leadership and some of the things that you have done during this period of time. And that’s how I want to segue into some of the questions that I would like to ask you, but also give you the opportunity to tell your story.

Cara Dipietro: Sure.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Well, first of all, now the Fairfield Inns. They’re a part of the Marriott family, correct?

Cara Dipietro: Yes, we are a franchise property.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Okay, great. Please tell us about your hotel pre-COVID. What was it like? What was the experience?

Cara Dipietro: So the welcoming has never changed. We have always been friendly. That’s been our thing. With us, for Fairfield, especially our property we try to treat everybody like family. And when guests check in here, I can honestly say that we extend that courtesy to all of our guests.

And that’s how I treat my staff. They’re my family. So I feel like, like you just said, it all trickles down. It definitely does because my team, they are so important and I focus a lot of my energy while managing our employee relations. And I probably kill that budget every month. They never say anything to me about it, but it really proves that just investing a little bit, whether it’s $5 gift cards or if it’s just an impromptu pizza party or taco day, whatever it is, you get it back tenfold.

[Related: What Is the Purpose of Hospitality Education? (Part I)]

And it’s definitely enjoyable working with the team that I currently have. A lot of those team members have stuck it through during the pandemic. Pre-COVID, we were busy. We are in the little perfect area here, right off of 95.

We are able to capture that corporate traveler and that leisure traveler. Call them my snowbirds. We get the guests like you, actually, not even a snowbird. You were just tired, you found my hotel online and just made a reservation. I can’t tell you how many people see us online just by saying, “You’re the first hotel closest to off the exit. We came to you first.” “Great. We’re so glad you’re here.”

So we are able to capture that last minute revenue or book that sports team or that corporate group that’s just traveling to whatever company in the area. So we’re kind of the best of both worlds. So we’re busy during the week and we were busy on the weekends.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Oh, I understand that fully. And I like that area. Even if I were not traveling back, I have a habit of, if I want to take a break right off of 95, it’s just so much between the White Marsh area as well as the Bel Air area. So you definitely have a prime location.

Cara Dipietro: We do. With the Avenue of White Marsh and all the shopping in the area between the Avenue and the White Marsh Mall pre-COVID, movie theater was open. Honeygo park is down the street for parents to just let their children run and burn off some steam. Or if it’s just a local lacrosse team going down the street to play a game for the weekend. So perfect location for families and corporate travel.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Okay. Now that’s a question I did not think of originally, but due to COVID, have you seen those businesses slowing down and has it affected you?

Cara Dipietro: Yes, it did. So we did a temporary close on March 22nd. We shut our doors. We went down to a skeleton crew and we were closed for 69 days. We did not reopen our property until June 1st.

We thought it was going to be a slow return for us, but by the time June hit, people were tired of being in their houses since March. People think that you come to a hotel COVID doesn’t affect you. No, it really does. It affected us the worst amongst one of the industries that got impacted the most was the hospitality industry.

So we had no idea what our pickup was going to be until we were in the midst of it. The first week or so was very slow and then it was the second week of June, we were busy every day, weekends killed us. Guests wanted to use the pool, they wanted to just sit in their room.

They said, “I’d rather just sit in my room and watch Netflix and order a pizza, or just walk down to the Avenue or just walk to a park or just be not in my house anymore. I can’t stand looking at my four walls. So I’d rather look at yours.”

By all means, I hope you liked our walls and our Netflix, but you could just see it the stress on the guest faces that they were just so happy that they could just get out and that there was a place for them to seek some sort of, I guess, mini-asylum weekend or refuge, whatever you want to call it. But yes, people were very happy that we were able to welcome them through our doors.

Now, granted everything was really shut down. We didn’t open our pool until July because everything was just a late start. And we were waiting for the governor to say what can be open, what isn’t allowed to be open. You saw our breakfast area was kind of shutdown. We’re not letting people congregate or hang out in that area at all. But we try our best with having limited select items for breakfast. I call it our cold continental and Coffee with Cara all the time.

So I’m here at the front desk. You can come see me, I’ll pour you a nice cup of coffee. It’ll always be hot, but we’re trying to make the best of it. And honestly, it’s really all about your attitude and how you’re going to just relay that. If you’re upbeat and happy guests really aren’t going to really grumble that much at you.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: I totally agree. And that was one of the things that made me comfortable with approaching you and starting a conversation. You were just so approachable.

Cara Dipietro: Oh, thank you.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: And friendly and it felt like I was talking to a friend. We’ve had so many conversations and just talk about things that we have in common, but I never thought of it. And I think you provided a good service when you were able to pick up that some of the guests coming in, it wasn’t like they were trying to get from one location to another. They just needed to get away.

And one of the things that some people have expressed that they’re struggling with is mental health issues as a result of being on lockdown. So you are providing a good service for those individuals and that might be something you can market. Get away from the house. How we talk about get away from the kids for a couple hours could be a slogan for you.

Cara Dipietro: No, I love my babies, but yes. Can somebody take them sometimes?

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Yeah. And sometimes we do need to get away to another environment and especially with people working from home and this being their first experience working from home, they may not know how to integrate the breaks in.

And so it seems like what you’re promoting is a good source or avenue for some stress relief to just get away from the house. I know when I first started working from home—and I’ve been doing it for over 15 years—but one of the things that I had to do was know when I needed to get away from the house, because if I stayed in the house continuously, I started to see my house as the physical work location versus my home. So I understand.

Cara Dipietro: Funny you should say that because Marriott is starting to roll out as a new marketing program geared toward the people that—we don’t know when this is going to end. And we don’t know when people are going to be able to return back to work. But we also know that people are trapped in their houses with their children doing social distancing, learning. And it’s intense, it’s hard. And they’re trying to work from home, those that are still working and it’s mentally draining.

So Marriott is recognizing that and we are now starting to see ads where there’s been webinars. And I actually just had a conversation this morning with my revenue manager about it. We’re going to do a day-use room. So we’re going to start marketing to our local people that are at home and “Hey, you can come, come to our check-in, check-out do same day it doesn’t matter. Take a nap away from your family. Or if you just need that break and you just need to come and get your work done.”

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: I like that concept.

Cara Dipietro: You’ve been teaching your children all day how to read. Maybe it only takes you two or three hours to jam and get all your work done. But because you’re at home with your kids, it’s taking you 10 or 12 hours. Hey, I’m your place. I will be your person. I will give you a quiet place to do your homework or even college students, maybe you just need to get your homework done and you can’t be as you have a little brother or sister that’s nagging you all the time. I have no idea.

So we’re going to start that day-use rate where you can come in and I have the availability to do it because our occupancies do tend to fluctuate. So on days that we can make it happen, we we’re going to.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Okay. I love that concept. It reminds me of when there were commercial real estate companies that were providing a space for people to just come to their offices, even to set up shop if they didn’t want to go and rent or lease or purchase property, it’s an alternative.

So kudos to Marriott for coming up with that concept. I think it will take off, especially since we really don’t know when this is going to end. You have to give people a sense of hope and allow opportunities that they won’t get stir-crazy and think that they’re just going to be caught in our house.

Especially in our region, winter is coming up. We have the four seasons so a lot of people tend to get a little bit depressed during the winter time. So I think that’s going to be a hot spot during the winter months for you. So look for the crowds.

Now, when we were chatting, two things came to my mind based off of some things that you said. I want to go back to when you were talking about investing in your people.

One of the things that I believe a lot of leaders, and I’ve heard a lot of leaders during 2020, make this comment, they’re so focused on coming up with ways to get back to where they are, that they’re not thinking of what I would call the whole business experience.

I personally believe there’s three parts that you have to worry about, of course the revenue, but how do you get that revenue? And the other two components would be your customer base, as well as your employees. To me, all three of those are a triad and you have to make sure that all of those areas are in sync. Now you keyed in to that and you started to do things for your team.

It’s a type of reward, but it’s also a type of encouragement. What made you come up with those type of ideas? How customized was it to your current staffing?

Cara Dipietro: Honestly, I have been really lucky to have some amazing men and women be my general manager as I was coming up through the ranks. The way that they were towards me and the team that I was working as line-level employee that they took the time to invest in us.

And I guess it was just an example of what a GM should be. I kind of idolize them and they always put us first and I’ve been really lucky to work for management companies and ownership groups that really did put us first as employees. And whether it was birthday pay—that doesn’t happen anymore—but prior companies, birthday pay. Or we had employee of the year program, we do that here too, employee of the quarter whatever it was I just figured if I stick within this industry, I want to be like them.

Cara Dipietro: And it’s just really, the examples of my GMs were always connected and they never missed a step. There was nothing ever hidden from us. They were always fully transparent with me. So I figured, “Well honesty is the best policy.” So I hate that as a cliché, but it is true, full transparency, especially during this time of the year with everything.

And COVID kind of exposed everything. You see the news and people coming in with black lights and everything. So we have to be a step ahead of everybody. So I know that this time, especially now is way more challenging than any other time. And we’re taking extra precautions as far as like cleaning procedures, we’re taking extra time to clean rooms and sanitize.

And if they don’t have the proper PPE that we will provide that for them. And if they can’t afford it, we’ll buy it for them. I mean, I will do anything for my team members and they know that. So just really just been the examples that have been put before before me.

And I just figured, “You really do get back that tenfold.” So even if it’s just, “You know what? I want snowballs today, I’m going to go get my staff a whole bunch of snowballs. And that’s it, because that’s what I wanted.” Or it’s Slurpee day. “Okay, great. I’m going to go and get you a Slurpee.” We have the calendar that says there’s a national something every day. And I feel like it’s just like all repetitive every couple of months.

It might not even really be the real thing. Today’s doughnut day. How hard is that? It’s not, I can hit the Dunkin donuts on my way in, I’ll get a coffee and you know what? They’re going to enjoy their little cream puff donut. It’s great. And they love it. And they say, “Thank you, thank you. Thank you.” And I’m like, “Gosh, what else can I get them?”

When I say my girls, I mean my room attendants, they have a really hard job. So it’s just as hard as being at the front desk and being on the front lines and being able to communicate with our guests. What our policies are, how we’re handling things. If you can’t follow our policies and what is mandated, then I’m sorry, you can’t stay here.

So their jobs are just as hard. So as just as mine is. My job became just as tough because I need to make sure that their safety is my number one priority before any fun happens. And it’s temperature checks coming in, making sure that nobody has a fever. If they do have a fever, you got to go home. You got to quarantine. And I have to be thinking about all of that, because at the end of the day, we are still going home to our families and we don’t want to get the ‘rona.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Yes, I understand.

Cara Dipietro: Our jobs are way more intense than they were before.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: You said something, and I want to go back to it just a few minutes ago. And as I listened to you, what I sensed was you care for your staff.

Cara Dipietro: Oh, I care. I could cry for them. I love my team members. I wouldn’t be successful if it wasn’t for them. And like I said, I will never take full credit for anything because we, as a team, would never be where we are if it wasn’t for them.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: If I was a secret shopper, I think that’s one of the things that they would say about you. But the important thing about that is, they see and know that you care for them and they, in turn, can model how you treat them with your guests.

And I believe that’s why I could tell that the other guests were having a good experience as well. But that ties into the type of leadership style that you have. You know how to effectively model, although you’re probably not thinking of it that way, it’s just a part of your personality. And I think that’s what businesses are going to have to think about.

A lot of times we may select leaders based off of their skillset, but when you’re dealing with potential clients, customers, any type of interaction, it’s all about how you treat people.

Those critical, soft skills, they call it essential skills now. And I think those are things that you are strong on. Now, another point you brought up was about how you identified different general managers. Were those informal mentoring experiences or were they formal? How did you select your “mentors?”

Cara Dipietro: My first GM, she was so scary. I remember just being terrified. I mean, I was 18 that was my first job. I said, “Oh, I don’t know if I’m going to get it.” She was so scary during my interview. I’m terrified. And I thought she was like a robot. I didn’t think she was real.

She would just come in. She had a stern face. “What type of pantyhose are you wearing?” We weren’t allowed to wear pants. And I said, “What? It’s summertime, I don’t want to wear pantyhose. Do you know how hot it is?” And she was like, “I don’t care, this is a uniform.” And I’m like, “Oh gosh.” But she was such a great GM. I really did enjoy working for her after I got over my fear of her.

I realized she is just a human, she’s just a person too. But she just had strict rules and you know what? Maybe that’s why now I make everybody make sure that they have their name tag and that they’re in proper uniform. And if they look like a piece of chewed up bubble gum, they’re going upstairs to a room to iron their stuff whatever it is.

I’ve taken a part of every general manager that I’ve worked with. And I feel like I took like all the best qualities and I just feel like I want to emulate them. Another GM, she’s actually my best friend now. And she’s amazing.

She has gone from the select service brands to full service resorts and she’s just killing it. And every property that she’s ever worked for, she’s taken little lumps of coal and shined them up into a diamond and handed back pretty packages that are revenue generators.

Well, I call her every day and I always bounce things off of her, get her advice. So again, I don’t know. I just take the things that I liked most about the person that I was working under and just try to emulate and apply what they did for us as team members, to my staff here.

And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. I know it’s not a one size fits all and I’ve worked for several properties. So some things that work here, aren’t going to work at a Hampton Inn where I worked. Or right now I’m four days into just starting to manage and taking over our Residents Inn next door.

So some of the things that we do here are not going to fit over there. And honestly, every property has its own personality and it’s really just being able to become that chameleon and figure out what their language is and roll with it. And that’s kind of how I figure it out. I mean, it’s touch and go. There’s no magic formula.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: I like how you say that. I share that similar concept with people. I’m a proponent also of customization. And it’s like, when people talk about best practices, I’m like, “They’re only best if you could take the theory and apply it to your situation and make it work for your situation, it’s not a cookie cutter one size fits all situation.”

I like the fact that you identify the people that were your informal mentors. As you were speaking I thought back over my career, I’m in my second career right now, but there are three people who come to my mind.

I love all my supervisors that I’ve had. And I’ve learned something from each of them, but there were three that when they came into my life, it was an important time for me to learn and grow something new. And they were there. And I, like you, took different things from their style and incorporated it into the type of leader that I’ve become.

And some of the things that you have shared, I have had a pivotal point where I’ve learned those same techniques and characteristics. And I’m just thankful for those people around that we were able to look to, to get advice from, even if it wasn’t a one-on-one or direct advice, but just from us observing them and how they handled situations.

So I totally agree with some of the things that you have shared. I wanted to ask the question, especially because I saw it in your area after I left your establishment, I just happened to go over to the Ikea.

From prior times that I’ve been in that area, they were as busy as your hotel was, but I noticed a different demographics out shopping. I saw more families out and it was busy. Do you see a lot of families? Now I noticed a lot of groups when I was there. A lot of groups that were coming in.

Cara Dipietro: So we definitely have lacrosse, we had a couple baseball teams. I think we had a soccer team. It’s just been random. And some of them haven’t even booked through our sales department. They just kind of show up.

But definitely I think when you see Ikea, the Avenue and White Marsh, it’s definitely families just wanting to be out. We honestly can’t pinpoint it either because we have these conversations every week with our revenue manager and she’s like, “Who is coming?” And we’re like, “We don’t know. They just show up.”

We could go from on a Friday afternoon, 60% occupancy, when I wake up the next morning and I see the reports, we hit 80, 90%. “Where did all these people come from?” “They just kept showing up and we didn’t let anybody leave without a room.” “Great. That’s what we’re supposed to do.”

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Well, I actually understand that because I think I would be the type of person that would fall into that category. Like I said, I had a good experience with you. I’m open to doing that again. But in terms of my travel plans for at least a short term, I probably wouldn’t plan it. I would say I want to do something. And especially if it involved driving, I would just get on the road.

Thank goodness for Google, Trip Advisor and hotels.com just look up something in the area that you are, and then select the hotel. And we just show up there. I’ve done that a lot of times. And that’s how I see myself doing in the short term. So what type of strategies do you think the hotels are going to pick up on that and try to project based off of, you’re not sure?

Cara Dipietro: Well, another major factor that plays into where the people are coming from, or higher occupancies, it’s the weather. If it’s a nice weekend, people want to be out of their house. They might just do a day trip down to DC and say, “You know what? I don’t want to drive the rest of the way,” or people from Philly come down here because they live in that city. So they don’t want to go there. So they come here.

Or a lot of people say “Oh, I’m just traveling through,” or “I’m visiting my grandkids. I haven’t seen them.” We’ve been seeing a lot of grandparents coming into town to see grandchildren. A lot of babies are being born right around now. I’ve had three or four people within the last two weeks said, “Oh what brings you to White Marsh?”

“Oh, we’re going to see the baby. We’ve been quarantining for weeks. We made sure that the gas was filled up in the car, we didn’t talk to anybody.” They’re double masked up. They had the gloves on and they said, “If we had to stop, it was really quick in and out. And we stopped at places that weren’t busy. Or if we had to get gas, we made sure we pumped it ourselves,” and basically Lysol their whole bodies before they got back into their vehicle, just so they can come here and see their grandchild.

So it’s been a lot of that too. And I think I had one grand mom lately. She’s like, “My daughter, she’s going to kill the kids. I need to come give her a break.” I said, “Oh, you’re so nice.” So she said, “But I don’t want to stay at the house. So I’m going to stay here.” And I said, “Aw,” I said, “You’re a smart grand mom.” So, that’s just been a little bit of everything. I don’t think there’s a formula at this point.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Right.

Cara Dipietro: We welcome everybody.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: And you and I are from this area. And for our listeners, I just wanted to share we’re in the northeast corridor. And when you live in this particular area, you are so close to so many different locations and each of the locations has its own culture.

So it’s not uncommon for people to get up. I know I’m an hour from Philadelphia, I’m an hour from Baltimore. I’m two hours from New York, I’m two hours from DC. Depending on what type of experience I want to have for the day, I may go North, or I may go South, or I might try to hit two or three of the four locations in one day. It’s that easy to do all of that.

So you’re in a prime location to be able to be creative on how to attract different customers. Now, one of the things that I noticed more in the Baltimore and DC areas, you have a lot of events that are geared towards a theme. Has your hotel ever researched those different events and then try to do something for your establishment that would attract people who would go to those events to your hotel?

Cara Dipietro: Yes, obviously. So like when they had the Bicentennial a few years ago, we offered discounted rates. We would reach out to the Air Force bases are super close to us, we have a local airport right down the road from us. Getting in contact with that Air Force team over there to see, “Hey, what are you doing? Is there anything happening or going on?”

Especially for my hotel, we’ll put a little decorations up, we’ll offer little packages. Hey, if you’re coming in for 4th of July, maybe we’ll a Star-Spangled Banner rate or something cheeky just to catch the eye, throw out a couple ads and see what we can get.

But if it’s anything really major, we’re lucky because again of our location those groups will just come to us. And then we try to fill the hotel group first and then everything else is the residual or the overflow from whatever the groups didn’t book will then be the transient person coming in for whatever reason. If it’s just traveling through or they’re coming to the area for whatever the event is.

So we do try, but again if it’s a weekend event the demand is here. And a lot of people will stay with us or they don’t have to stay downtown because downtown you have parking fees. We can work around that and they’ll stay here because we won’t do that. Cut that cost for them.

And if you want to go downtown, that’s great. But if you have a group of children, if it’s a sports team or lacrosse tournaments, because they’re very popular in our area. Again, our selling point is the local shopping and the restaurants because there are 10 or 12 restaurants right within us. So we have the best of both worlds.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: I understand. We’ve been talking about a lot of things. I feel as though I have to get one question in about programs. What do you look for when you hire that different people? Not only for your hotel, but just in, for example, the Marriott in general, what does it take to be a Marriott employee?

Now, one of the things that I’ve noticed is the hotel industry is almost like human resources. There is a value for practical work experience, sometimes more so than the degree. How can someone break into the hotel industry to get a job at the different levels or a person who wants to transition career? How would they go about it?

Cara Dipietro: Well, honestly, right now, the market is hot. I mean the hotels that are open, a lot of people now with the pandemic, they laid off a good portion of their workforce. So now that we do see hotels reopening or the hotels that have been open and maybe they lost employees because you know what? The pandemic, it really put a lot of stress on people.

And we did lose a few good people along the way because they were like, “I just can’t do it anymore.” I lost two awesome team members right in the middle of July. I’m like, “You can’t leave me.” I don’t think I ever cried over an employee giving me their resignation, but I did. These two guys, lost it. I said, “You can’t leave.” I was in denial. I was in panic mode because I said, “If I lose these two guys, I’m toast. They are part of our backbone, they are part of what makes us beat. And I am going to crumble inside.” I didn’t handle it too well. And then I had to apologize because I cried.

But honestly it is not hard to break into the hotel industry. You just really have to understand that you might not be making what you were making prior. Everything has been re-evaluated. And I understand that now more than ever people need employment.

My assistant general manager, she and I we’re like two peas in a pod. And we both agree that we will hold a position open until we find the right person, no matter how much it might kill us, because we know that that next person coming on board we hope to hire for longevity.

And we also try to hire for personality because I can teach you how to do anything at the front desk, as long as you pay attention and listen to the instructions, we can train you on everything. Because it’s not that hard. A lot of it’s common sense.

But, honestly, anybody can work in a hotel. It’s hard work, it’s long hours and you have to really have that work ethic that you want that. You have that drive.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Right. I agree with what you’re doing because you want to make it a win-win situation. Not only that you have the right employees, but also that the employees feel as though they made the right choice. And I think that’s what’s important.

Cara Dipietro: Yeah.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Cara you shared a lot of tips, strategies, your personal story. I don’t even feel like this was an interview. I just feel like we were just sharing obvious things that people may not know. And I think it would be helpful for individuals who are like in the groups that you were talking about, just need to get out of the house or need to do something different.

You’ve given some ideas to the consumers who may want to travel or be like I was, go out slowly to see what it’s like to feel comfortable again. But you also provided some tips on anyone wanting to get into the hospitality industry especially in the hotel arena. And I appreciate that. Are there any other things that you would like to share with us?

Cara Dipietro: No. I just want to thank you. This was so much fun.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Yes, it was. And I look forward to working with you on other projects.

Cara Dipietro: Oh, thank you. Thank you so much. And please, seriously, I cannot wait to see you again. You can come stay at my hotels all the time.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper: We have been speaking with Cara Dipietro the area General Manager, recent promotion, Fairfield Inn and Suites in White Marsh, Maryland. This is Marie Gould Harper. Thank you for listening to our podcast today.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Dean of the School of Business at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist, and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of experience.

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