When Guillermo Coronel was growing up in Santiago, Chile, he never dreamt he’d become a hotel GM. In fact, it was only after moving to Canada in 1975 that his eyes were opened to the hospitality industry.
“While studying biochemistry in university my job search led me to work at the Four Seasons Montreal as a busboy.” Once he developed a taste for it, he never looked back. Though he lacks formal hospitality training, Coronel doesn’t see this as a shortcoming. “I’ve worked in most hotel positions, so the hotel itself is really what I consider my school,” he says.
For the past four years, the hotelier has been busy directing the team of 150 associates at the 105-room Hôtel Nelligan in Old Montreal. “The engaged level of service provided by our proud em-ployees has enabled the hotel to stand out,” boasts the 58-year-old. Of course, the hotel’s unique design, its location, and its varied food-and-beverage offerings don’t hurt its bottom line either. Its clientele comprises affluent travellers, businesspeople and professionals of varied ages. But, the common thread, says Coronel, “is they are seeking a unique experience.”
With competition intensifying across industry segments, Coronel focuses on the guest. “Guest expectations have shifted. With all the information now at their fingertips, they know exactly what they want and when. We need to stay ahead of the curve to meet their expectations. This means engaging in social media and constantly keeping up the dialogue with our past, present and future guests.”
To ensure a stellar guest experience, Coronel involves every department in the decision-making process by providing information and encouraging input from staff. He’s a big believer in hiring passionate people. “Without passion, you cannot touch people and create a real hospitality experience,” he says. “Our team is always seeking new and creative ideas. I am very proud of what we have ac-complished in the last four years. We are building a responsive website to provide an optimal viewing experience across a range of devices — from desktops to mobile devices.”
After all, hotels need to be constantly reinvented. “We’ve developed a weekend brunch at Verses Restaurant that gives visitors a perfect taste of local produce and flavours,” Coronel begins. “The hotel has also introduced heaters on the rooftop terrace to comfort our guests who want to enjoy the beautiful views on cooler days, [and] it’s upgrading the Wi-Fi infrastructure to deliver the best Internet connectivity possible.”
As Coronel says, “It’s not only about having a great product, but you also have to get to know your guests and gain their trust. You want them to know you’ll do everything possible to meet and exceed their expectations. We strive to maintain an atmosphere that makes guests feel at home and to deliver a more intimate style of service.”