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On the Road With Patricia and Carrie

Sep 21, 2023

Patricia Davis Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications (right) Carrie Drost Vice President, Communications & Social Media (left)

We recently had the privilege of traveling to the Midwest together to visit our exceptional properties and spend time onsite with our passionate team members. Five days, two states, six hotels…it was a whirlwind, to say the least! While we’re usually the ones behind the scenes producing these fantastic features on the blog and amplifying across social media, we’re excited to be on the other side this time and share with you highlights from our overall experience.

Let Discuss!

Carrie: I still can’t believe we accomplished so much in five short days! Based on all of our meetings, site tours and time spent on property, what was most enlightening to you during our trip?

PD: Hard to distill down to one thing. I hadn’t seen our hotel in Oak Brook yet: Hyatt Lodge, so it was great to finally get a look at the hotel and event space. What a great venue and what beautiful grounds! But, if I had to say one thing it would be learning about all of the amazing things our hotels are doing every single day that we don’t always hear about. Hyatt Lodge has so many great things going on like the Blessings in a Backpack and Dippin Dots partnerships; the amazing game day activity at Hotel Zachary when we were there for the Cubs game; the refillable Path water bottles that were in our rooms at 21c Museum Hotel Chicago; the SS Centric Snack Attack “boat” at Hyatt Centric Magnificent Mile and it was my first time seeing the activity center at Grand Hotel. So many things! What about you?

Carrie: I loved the palpable enthusiasm and positive energy that we witnessed during all of our interactions with team members. Whether it was expressed during the sales & revenue morning standup at 21c Museum Hotel Chicago while outlining key tasks for the day before they headed out that afternoon to go bowling as a teambuilding exercise, or Grand Hotel Historian Bob Tagatz recounting history about an antique piece of furniture in The Parlor. I felt incredibly proud to work amongst such an esteemed, passionate and engaged group of people. Can you identify an example of a Davidson core value brought to life during our visit at any of the properties?

PD: I saw so much personification of our core values, it’s hard to pick just one. But I would be absolutely remiss if I didn’t talk about morning stand up at Grand Hotel – talk about adding value and having each other’s backs! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a morning stand up, where every department was represented, that was so thorough, thoughtful and efficient. Everyone was prepared to discuss what they had going on in their areas for the day and what they needed from their teammates. It was awesome! How about you?

Carrie: SO many examples, but one in particular comes to mind. Matt Huss, General Manager at Hyatt Centric Magnificent Mile, joined our meeting after he and team members spent the morning picking up trash in their local neighborhood. Combined with that, his office was full of recently purchased treats and goodies that he had stocked up to give out as rewards to team members in the future. On top of that, his office is adorned with numerous paddles that he’s accumulated over the years, which signifies that everyone on the team is paddling in the same boat.

I appreciate that Matt lives and breathes our core values daily, in this case via “Always Do What’s Right” and “Serving Others with Love.”

Let’s talk about Pivot since you were employee #2 and one of the founding members of Davidson’s lifestyle operating vertical! Two of the hotels that we visited, 21c Museum Hotel Chicago and Hotel Zachary, are operated by Pivot. What are some of the touchpoints that we witnessed during our visit that are signature to Pivot?

PD: It had been a while since I’d been out to see Hotel Zachary and the upstairs lobby has evolved quite a bit. To better cater to guests who frequent the bar and the lobby space, they made a number of changes to make the space more comfortable like adding more conversational seating combinations and fancy throws for when it’s chilly. 21c Museum Hotel Chicago’s museum and art activations throughout the hotel make for such an interesting space. As our social media leader, what were some of your favorite content moments?

Carrie: My camera roll is bursting at the seams after this trip! Here are some of my favorites:

  • Signature green penguins in our suites at 21c Museum Hotel Chicago (pretty excited about the TikTok video I posted about this on my feed!)
  • Beautiful outdoor campus at Hyatt Lodge Oakbrook Chicago
  • Q&A with a team member at Hyatt Centric Magnificent Mile for an upcoming series we are doing for National Hispanic Heritage Month
  • Cubs game at Wrigley Field, situated across the street from Hotel Zachary, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel
  • The arrival experience to Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island – the ferry, the horse-drawn carriage taxi, so exquisite!
  • Video interviews with three housekeepers at Grand Hotel for International Housekeeping Week
  • Beautiful views of Lake Huron from the waterfront balcony rooms at Bicycle Street Inn & Suites

Let’s talk about outstanding individuals on property that we want to recognize from our time together.

PD: Everyone went out of their way to spend time with us and to showcase their hotels in really special ways. Adam and Michelle took a good deal of time out of their schedules walking us around the Hyatt Lodge grounds and telling us about its interesting past. Michelle is so passionate about what she does and helping people; I really loved spending time with her. Spending time with Matt and Jim at Hyatt Centric was a treat – Matt is really one of my favorite people and you can just tell how much he cares about people by looking at the collection of hospitality treasures in his office. We raised glasses with Rebecca and James on the 21c Museum Hotel patio on a very lovely late summer day in downtown Chicago. Michael was so gracious in taking us to a Cubs game – going to the game reminded me how much I love and miss live sports! Finally, the whole team at Grand Hotel that spent time with us – I know it took a lot of people to make it happen! I especially would like to thank Liz Graves for devoting the better part of two days immersing us in the experience that is Grand Hotel!

What are some of the key takeaways for you from the trip?

Carrie: We touched upon effective social media marketing solutions and on behalf of SocialLite, Davidson’s boutique in-house social media agency, we will be tailoring a program specific to LinkedIn for some of our Chicago hotels to enact in 2024. As discussed with each team, there are so many benefits to having a robust LinkedIn presence from a recruitment marketing perspective. In fact, over the past 365 days, Davidson Hospitality Group received 8,816 applicants through LinkedIn, resulting in 296 hires, representing a 30% success rate!

We will work with property teams to develop and execute a tailored strategic plan and identify KPIs to measure success. A successful partnership will require cross-departmental collaboration between HR and Sales & Marketing.

We also discussed DH Communications, our in-house public relations solution currently in development which will offer 100% individually tailored PR support for individual hotels, resorts, and restaurants. From a la carte services to strategic campaigns, we are in the business of generating awareness and increasing visibility for brands.

We can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get started!

Our Favorite Souvenirs: Joanne’s Fudge, Watercolor art from Mackinac Island artist, Custom Cubs x Hotel Zachary baseball hat, Stuffed Scotty dog from Sadie’s at Grand Hotel