As Operating Manager of Saskatoon’s first boutique hotel, Corinne Lund refuses to compromise. Despite landing in the hotel industry on a whim, “almost immediately I knew this is the environment I wanted to be in,” she recalls.
Since opening the James Hotel in October 2011 Lund has been busy “throwing a great deal of energy into developing the brand. Becoming a distinctive ‘brand of one’ has forced us to genuinely look outside of what we’re accustomed to and realize that a 60-room boutique hotel, independent or branded, can develop its identity and positioning within a particular market better than its 1,000-room competitor by discovering the customer impact points.” Lund admits, “We can’t be all things to all people, but we can focus on our guest and impact their lives.” The hotel’s core customer is travellers looking for a premium experience — whether they’re coming for business or pleasure.
Rising through the ranks has allowed the Saskatoon native to have empathy for her team of 35. “Ultimately it’s made me more cognizant of those working with me and the daily trials they face. If you’ve never made up a hotel bed, washed dishes or delivered room service, there will be a huge gap between you and the people who do. And this will affect your ability to manage effectively.”
“Working within this property is truly different; it challenges the status quo and fights for the good cause of making our business and people want to become better at what they do. Our approach to the overall guest experience of each guest sets us apart from our competitors.”
At the end of the day, Lund says success is contingent on passion. “This business is people. To be a hotel manager — to be a good one — you must be a people person. The business and technical side of it is absolutely important, but it’s a people business; you serve people, you help people, you listen to people, you manage people,” Lund says resolutely.
While running a 24-7 business certainly produces stressors, Lund says it’s how one copes with stress that makes it easier to bear. “Having a supportive family is key,” says the mother of two. “I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a spouse and children who understand the dedication and commitment, and ultimately, the sacrifice a position like mine entails. And at work we laugh together; that always makes the stress disappear.”
Ultimately, for Lund it’s all about satiating the guest’s need for a more unique and personal experience. “Today’s guests value choice, individuality and they want to be seen and heard as real people, not a number or a statistic in a crowd of average,” Lund asserts. “They’re willing to pay for, and perceive value in what they want and need, but they don’t want to be charged for extras they don’t use.” It’s a brand belief that guides her every day. In fact, Lund’s best advice to hoteliers is “to find out what your guest wants — truly wants — and then deliver it without compromise.”