Playground Director and General Manager
Scott Youngblood was on a mission. “My mission was to re-shape the way we thought about ourselves and our guests,” he explains. “I wanted to bring a new perspective and create a new set of norms to this hotel.” Over the past three years, he has managed to do just that. The facility has shown dramatic improvement in quality of cleanliness, physical condition of the property and customer satisfaction. From one of the lowest rated hotels in the Embassy Suites system, the property has steadily climbed into the top tier of the organization.
After several years in the Midwest, Scott Youngblood returned to Portland, Oregon in the spring of 2014. He was excited to be coming back as the new general manager of the Embassy Suites by Hilton – Portland Washington Square. When he arrived, Youngblood says his first impression of the hotel was that “there was a crisis of self-esteem, the hotel seemed sad.” He described the philosophy that has made him successful.
Embrace a whimsical perspective
Youngblood’s business card says it all. He describes himself as Playground Director and General Manager. His goal is to have employees enjoy working there. We want to remain professional but, at the same time, develop a fun familial atmosphere. “We created lots of silly rituals,” he says. The name tag ritual is an example. “Name tags are to be worn high on the right lapel,” he explains. Everyone knows the expectation and they enjoy helping their fellow employees remember the standards.
He also wanted to develop a common language. “We refer to the accommodations as suites instead of rooms and we have a reception desk, not a front desk,” he explains. “When there is a common language around the routine things, it removes the coursework about them.”
Create a seize-able optimism
Youngblood wanted to create a seize-able optimism. “The mission was to re-shape the way we thought about ourselves. I wanted the staff to know that Spire Hospitality, the new property management company, was here to help them,” Youngblood says. “We want to continue to create our own air of prestige by reminding the employees what a great hotel this is. That will translate to a great guest experience,” he adds.
Value the people
As he walks through the facility, Youngblood greets every staff member warmly. He knows their backstory and it is clear that he values their contribution. “We are fortunate to have great people working with us and we want to make sure they know we appreciate them.” Compliments flow freely when employees do a good job.
Give back to the community
Youngblood feels strongly that it is important to be a great community partner and he encourages his staff to do what they can to help the community. He embodies this spirit of community action by activities such as serving lunch to the homeless among others. As one of the nine Commissioners for the Oregon Tourism Commission, Youngblood has been an outspoken advocate for the state. “We live in such a beautiful state. It is a great place to live and wonderful to visit. I love sharing Oregon’s story,” he says.
It is clear that Youngblood’s enthusiasm, optimism and positive nature are responsible for the results he is creating. He has established a new culture and new set of expectations at the Embassy Suites. He intends to keep it up. “We are only as good as our next guest encounter,” is his motto.