The Western Business Alliance Hospitality Summit will share skills for success. Pictured is renowned speaker and organizer Sue Hansen of WBA.

The Western Business Alliance Hospitality Summit will share skills for success. Pictured is renowned speaker and organizer Sue Hansen of WBA.

By Caitlin Switzer

MONTROSE—(September 3, 2013)  He has worked in the hospitality industry since he was 14 years old, and acquired his own skills—and high standards– in Europe. Today, the hotel that Guy Mendez manages, Super 8 of Montrose (1705 East Main St.), is consistently rated number one on the Trip Advisor web site. And yet, finding workers willing to meet his exacting standards is an ongoing challenge, Mendez said.

“Too many people think that hospitality is an easy job,” he said. “They are not experienced, and just want a pay check. But this is a very complex business; I trained in France, and I have worked in Paris, New York, Montreal. In Europe most people who work in hotels and restaurants have gone to school to learn, and hold degrees. In this country, we now have good training for restaurant workers and chefs, but in the service industry there is no training at all.”

Here in Montrose, simply finding employees willing to learn can be difficult, he noted.

“I train my own people,” Mendez said, “and I know right away who can be trained and who cannot.”

Mendez is not alone; in a region where many make their living from the tourism industry, first-rate customer service skills are not optional, but essential for business survival. Now, hospitality professionals and business owners seeking to brush up on the tools for success can learn from the best; The Western Business Alliance (WBA) is teaming up with the City of Montrose to offer the Western Colorado Hospitality Summit Oct. 24-25.

Expect trending subject matter to include customer service, branding strategies, social media tools and certification courses, offered at the Montrose Pavilion Events Center and shared through a blend of seminars and interactive courses.

“By the end of the summit we want participants to have a greater understanding of the role they place in gaining client and customer loyalty which directly results into more business and greater longevity of their business,” said Sue Hansen of WBA.  “Whether their season is summer, winter or all year long, or whether they are a front desk attendant, a server or even a hair stylist, they will come away with actionable ideas and inspirations to do their job better and grow their business.”

Hansen’s business partner, Terri Leben, is a former banking and chamber of commerce executive who knows first-hand the importance of excellent customer service.

“The WBA is committed to helping businesses thrive and grow which will not only help fuel economic recovery in their communities but also encourage community engagement,” Leben said. “We work directly with businesses throughout the year, and this is just one of many expected educational events that will delve deeper into other areas of business on current topics and trends facing the business community.”

The Western Business Alliance of Colorado promotes, educates and invigorates business people through content rich business events and growth opportunities that provide substantive help to our members. The Western Colorado Hospitality Summit is funded in part through the City of Montrose’s Office of Business & Tourism. To register and for more information please visit Registration fees are discounted until Sept. 30. To encourage participation, special student discounts are available and a 10 percent discount will be provided to purchases of three or more tickets.