Kennebunkport Resort Collection's Colleen Geary on staffing, growing and more

(We spoke with the manager of operations support at the Kennebunkport Resort Collection about her expectations for the year ahead, and what it takes to run a small boutique collection.)

The HOTEC Operations and Technology North America show is just around the corner, kicking off May 21-24 in Palm Beach, Fla., which is why HOTEL MANAGEMENT is speaking to attendees ahead of time to get their take on the industry at large. Colleen Geary is our latest feature, and the manager of operations support at the Kennebunkport Resort Collection has a lot to say about the year to come, and what it takes to operate a small collection of boutiques in a growing destination.

Colleen Geary

HOTEL MANAGEMENT: What are Kennebunkport Resort Collection's primary objectives for 2017?
Colleen Geary: First and foremost, guests are our main focus, and we are fixated on making sure they have the best experience possible. We want our hotels to be full with guests that are being wowed, but our other objective is focused on increasing year-round awareness of our destination. We are working hard to promote our properties and the areas in which we live, work and play. Kennebunkport is a beautiful area, so we want as many people as possible know about it.

HM: What are some of the challenges you have to overcome in a market such as Kennebunkport during 2017?
CG: Staffing. Maine has a 3.8-percent unemployment rate, and there are not a lot of eligible unemployed people looking for work. Because of this, we rely on foreign staff, and we are really trying to find hidden pockets of labor. Another challenge is the seasonality of our area. We do the majority of our business in a three-month time span. Developing the shoulder and off seasons is a big challenge, and we are also facing new businesses in the area. Marketing has done well supporting new businesses, and we want to stay current and on top of the pyramid as far as rest and hotels in the area.

HM: How has the business of operating a collection of boutiques like KRC changed most since the company was formed in 2007?
CG: Since forming me have been making sure our infrastructure supports the growth of our competition. Understanding economies of scale, reservations and staff logistics have helped make sure we can support our 7 hotels and 6  restaurants. We also added new brands as we’ve grown. We have 7 hotels, all of which are different or unique, and we want to keep the distinct personality of each property. As we've grown we have also worked more on internally cross-selling properties. We want our guests to stay at one property and  eat at another, for us that is a win.

HM: What excites you most about the hospitality industry in 2017?
CG: We are such a small town, so it’s nice to see guests coming back every year. It has become a home away from home to them. Not only do we see guests returning to our hotels, but also our restaurants. Staffing issues have forced us to be more creative and resourceful, and every year it’s a challenge so we want to make sure our staff is meeting and exceeding expectations for our partners. We are also always looking to elevate the standard of our properties across the board.

HM: What do you expect to get out of this year’s HOTEC North America event?
CG: I am really excited about this. Most of all, I'm hoping to be exposed to some vendors for services and products we haven't thought of yet. I'm always interested in new technology for guests, and for back of house to make things easier. Lastly, I'm also looking to do some networking.