SOURCE: Affinia Hotels

Affinia Hotels

June 04, 2012 14:37 ET

Affinia Hotels Hires World-Renowned Mixologist to Train Associates From Bellmen to Housekeepers

Boutique Hotel Brand Focuses on 'The Spirit of Hospitality: The Art of Being Present'

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Jun 4, 2012) - A first for the hotel industry, boutique hotel company Affinia Hotels, with properties in NYC and Washington, D.C., has hired a bartender to train hotel staff on 'The Spirit of Hospitality: The Art of Being Present.' Dushan Zaric, widely known for his out-of-the-box mixology seminars for bartenders, is training the staff on how to be present and that how they feel when they are doing their jobs has a powerful effect on guests.

The unique training, developed exclusively for Affinia Hotels, is the next step in the evolution of Affinia's Tender Loving Comfort(SM) (TLC) movement, a service-based initiative that launched in October of 2011. The first staff training was on how to read and respond to guest body language.

All hotel associates, from housekeepers to bellmen, will experience this new training which is taking place at the hotels this week. Zaric, who is co-founder of the American Bartending Institute of New York and one of the 50 Most Influential Tastemakers of 2012*, will guide trainees through hands-on experiments designed to demonstrate the power of a positive attitude, as well as exercises to help maintain focus.

"With this training, we're furthering our goal to deliver TLC through all aspects of the brand from reservations to check out and everything in between," said Chrissy Denihan, chief comfort officer of Affinia Hotels.

In one exercise each attendee will create a Negroni cocktail (a gin-based apéritif) using identical ingredients and directions. In doing so they will find that each drink tastes different based on the state-of-mind of its creator. The lesson in the glass? State of mind affects the quality of the product and the service they deliver, whether they are making beds, checking in guests or booking a reservation.

This one-of-a-kind experience hones in on quieting the noise in hotel staffers' heads and focusing on the task at hand: to deliver better customer service and build consumer advocacy. For example, a bellmen assisting a guest in the lobby needs to be absolutely present with that guest even though there may be several other guests coming into the hotel or waiting in the lobby.

Customer satisfaction scores at Affinia Hotels soared in the wake of the first TLC training, which focused on reading and interpreting body language. Affinia hired a body language expert to train associates on how to identify the needs and wants of guests by paying attention to non-verbal cues. Additionally, TLC takes this customer-centric brand to the next level by encouraging guest feedback to shape the hotel experience with the following components: a TLC Crew comprised of members from each hotel, who collect guest feedback on all initiatives and programming; daily Comfort Hour at each hotel, where guests have a chance to mingle with staff and enjoy complimentary snacks and beverages; and a Comfort Cart from which guests can sample and provide feedback on new amenities free of charge. Top-rated Comfort Cart items are rolled out brand wide.

About Affinia Hotels
Affinia Hotels, with boutique hotels in New York City and Washington, D.C., provides business and leisure guests with Tender Loving Comfort(SM)(TLC). Each property was awarded the 2012 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor as a result of travelers consistently recommending the hotels with high praise. Affinia Hotels is a member of Stash Hotel Rewards, a loyalty program for over 150 independent hotels. Travelers can start earning points by signing up for a free account at

Affinia Hotels is operated by Denihan Hospitality Group, a privately-held hotel management company with more than 50 years of hospitality management expertise.

* Forbes Magazine 2012

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