Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

My Inspiring Weekend

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This past weekend I spent a few days in Orlando with 2000 of my best friends. Okay, I’m not friends with them all but spending time with this amazing tribe of women was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

In my spare time, I sell Stella & Dot. This past weekend was my first time attending the yearly Hoopla conference. I had no idea what to expect, figuring it was just a fun weekend about women and, of course, amazing jewelry. Boy, was I wrong!

The weekend was full of learning on many different levels for me. I’ve been in sales and marketing for more than ten years and this weekend really made me realize how training can transform you as a person. No matter your age, gender, position/level, or years of experience, training motivates and inspires you.

When I started my journey in the FEC industry, I was super-motivated. I had never worked in a center before or created birthday parties, etc. It helped that I did my homework and read a lot about leadership and management, but I really craved attending conferences and meeting others in the industry who were going through the same struggles.

After I left the management side and started working with Beth, she took me to my first IAAPA. We  walked the floor that year and I remember all I could think was, “If I could have come here as a manager and attend classes or go to conferences to receive training, I could have done so much more.”

That’s how I felt when I left this weekend from Hoopla. I saw women on a journey to get what they wanted. All the stories were different yet we were all finding our extraordinary. I took classes that gave me the skills necessary to achieve the goals I set, relate with others who were finding their journey, and meet people who would encourage me to aspire to do even more.

So, consider sending your staff to events that further their leadership, sales, or whatever skills you want to grow. We host conferences throughout the year that do those very things. We would love for you and your staff to attend them. You’ll be amazed how it will inspire them!

Be Kind and Do What You Say

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If you didn’t already know, last week we were at Bowl Expo in Las Vegas. It’s always a great week for us. We spend months planning since we have our quarterly leadership team meeting. We bring our entire team out for a week of learning, the trade show, and team building.

I have to say the week started off a bit rough. I arrived on Sunday and thought I was 100% over the jetlag of traveling from Jakarta to Los Angeles to Houston and then back west to Vegas. I was in for a big surprise when I got to the Mandalay Bay.

I’m a Type A personality. You know, I plan every minute if I possibly can and I had a plan to land, run a few errands with Nancy, check in, work a few hours, eat dinner, work a couple of more hours and get to bed for our leadership team meeting the next day. Things didn’t quite go as planned.

The check in line was longer than the lines I had just seen at Disneyland the week before! Yup, I’m sure you are nodding your head if you checked in to the hotel on Sunday. It took over three hours. I was tired and exhausted and I knew since they only had five people checking everyone in, they were probably as frustrated as we were.

When it was finally my turn, I wanted to be sure I went in with the right mind frame as I have worked in the hospitality industry for the past ten years. So, I asked the girl how her day was going, tried to make small talk, and just asked if it was usually long lines like this. Instead of just saying, “No, not usually. It’s because we are a little short staffed,” she says to me in her frustrated don’t you get it voice, “We don’t have enough people. We are coming of winter so we have all these people to train and they worked 12 hours today and had to go home. They can’t work more.” Of course, I wanted to say, “Chill! I just asked if it was normal” but I understood.

As we were completing the check in process and I said, “I know this isn’t common but is there any chance you could do something since I had to wait so long?” She said she could comp the resort fees or give food credit. I knew I wanted wifi and that was probably the best value so I took it. To my disappointment, I received the bill and they hadn’t removed the resort fees so now I have to ask them to refund those.

I’m sure it was a tough day for her and she probably had no idea that it had been a tough few days for me as well between traveling and caring for my father who’s battling cancer. We have to remember that we need to do what we say we are going to do and we need to keep in mind we never know what someone is going through.

Next time you have someone at your center who comes off aggravated or downright mean, be kind. Take a step back and recognize you don’t know what they’re going through. When you tell them you are going to do something, whether it’s sending a person to fix a game, or fill tickets, or make a fresh pizza, do it. Don’t wait. Do it immediately and make things right. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

Surprise

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I’m bubbling over with service stories in my head since my vacation cruise in the middle of May. Leslie, my oldest daughter, and I traveled to St. Thomas, Tortola, and the Bahamas on Norwegian Cruise Line. The weather was perfect, the company was terrific, and the ship was spectacular. Can you tell I had a great time?

My birthday was on the 17th of May which was the 3rd day of the cruise. We set sail Saturday evening and docked on Tuesday after being at sea for two full days. Leslie had arranged a wonderful excursion for us. We took a champagne catamaran cruise and snorkeled at a beautiful reef in St. John. Although we used lots of sunscreen, we were overly kissed by the sun sailing back to the ship but had a great time.

THEN the big surprise happened. When we returned to our cabin that afternoon, we walked into a room wonderfully decorated with happy birthday decorations, a cupcake, a big cake, and handwritten notes from the housekeeping and hospitality departments. I was so surprised! There were streamers taped to the ceiling, helium balloons floating above the bed, a towel animal with a balloon in one hand and a cupcake in the other, and a happy birthday banner strung across the balcony door. I was wowed! I’m giddy thinking about it now.

It made me wonder what we could do for every birthday child who has an event at our family entertainment facilities! You know it wasn’t so much “what” they did… it was the surprise of it being done. I’m pretty excited about the possibilities. I’ve been racking my brain for two weeks wondering what we could do that would surprise and delight a child, their folks, and the kids at the party. Can you imagine the traction you could get for your birthday program? I totally believe that other children would have to have their party so that the “surprise” could happen for them as well.

I want to put this out there to you and hear what you think we could do to create that “giddy” moment for every birthday in your building. Leave a comment below or go to our Facebook page and share your idea. Together, I bet we could come up with some amazing ideas that would really make a memorable difference for the parties held at your center.

Hope you have a great week and, if you are a bowling based center, I can’t wait to see you at Bowl Expo.  Remember to claim your ticket to the Fab 5 party! It promises to be the hottest event in Vegas and I’d love to have you there… maybe there will even be a surprise or two for all of our attendees! Click here to register for your ticket. We only have a limited amount, so you’ll want to sign up soon.

Connection and Relationship Building Lead to Sales

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Selling is hard. Okay, maybe not hard, but it is difficult, especially if you are missing certain steps in the selling process.

I know many of you probably think that since I worked for TrainerTainment and ran a million dollar a year party program that I am a sales person. Well, yes I can sell, but it is not a strong skillset. Being a party manager meant I had an amazing team with the skills to sell. I was there to help, guide, and train them on what they needed to do to be successful.

Last year I decided to have a home-based business selling  jewelry from Stella & Dot. It is a multi-level marketing company selling amazing jewelry. I did it for a few reasons. One, I wanted to pay for my travels around the world and two, I wanted to see if I could sell or not.  I want to share with you what I have learned this past year.

The biggest thing I have learned about selling is that connection may be its most important part. I know, the close is really important, too, but if you don’t connect, you will never get to the close.

Being halfway across the world, I have to do 100% of my selling online, which has not been an easy task. Connecting online is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Sure, it’s easy to get people to like photos and comment on what they love, but true connection is building a relationship and building that relationship takes a real conversation.

When I was home last summer I was able to sell in person. I couldn’t believe how much easier it was when I was standing face-to-face with the client. I wasn’t talking about our product, but talking about them –  their family and who they are. I could develop a sense of what they like and then connect them with a particular product. The difference between online and in-person selling was amazing. I sold more!

Selling online has shown me that yes, you use social media to make connections with people, but once you have made that connection you need to deepen it and turn it into a relationship. I know from experience that many sales people in centers are trying to connect, build relationships, and sell by sitting in the center using social media or just making phone calls. They don’t spend time out of the center every day going business to business. You have to go out, make a connection, and build a relationship. If you want to expand your business and take your sales to the next level, get out of the center on a daily basis and connecting with people, face to face.

I challenge you. Spend at least an hour outside the center every day. Start small, visiting five new businesses a day. Go to a shopping center. You’ll easily get five. Build on that five and shoot for ten after a few weeks. I promise when your connections grow, your number of events will grow!

When We Go Above and Beyond

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we have the ability to make or break our guest’s day. (1)Great customer service is a big part of our industry. We know by providing great service, friends are more likely to recommend our centers and products to others. We have the opportunity to turn upset guests into raving fans, even when it means we may need to go against our written policy.

As a party manager, there were times a guest would show up late, not meet the minimum requirements of guests for the party, or cancel in less time than we had stated on our agreements. Our job was to do everything we could, within reason, to make it right with the guest to create a lasting experience and make them as happy as possible.

In the past two years, we have visited almost ten different countries and taken many weekend vacations. My husband’s grandmother came to visit, and we wanted to show her what Indonesia had to offer. So, last weekend we planned to take her to Yogyakarta, the cultural mecca of Indonesia. We left for the airport with plenty of time to arrive two hours early. It typically takes about one and one-half hours to get there. Jakarta has some of the worst traffic I have ever seen, and I’m from Houston! Unfortunately, it took us over 3½ hours to get to the airport. We missed our flight. We tried flying standby for the next two outbound flights and had no luck. We even tried to reschedule for the next day, but the flights were 100% booked.

We explained our situation to the hotel and let them know we needed to cancel the reservation.  Since we had booked the trip through hotels.com, we called them the next day to see what our options were. The policy stated we would have to pay for one night, which we were ready to do, and that they wouldn’t refund any early departures. We explained the situation, and they said they would contact the hotel and that we should as well.

The hotel failed to return our calls and informed hotels.com they would be charging us for the entire booking. We requested again that they review the policy with the hotel, and they said: “Sorry, you are required to pay the full booking.”

While we completely understand the situation the hotel was in, we know if they wanted to make us raving fans, they would attempt to work something out with us but in this case, they weren’t willing to do that.

So, it made me think. If we had been able to honor our reservation, I wonder what kind of service we would have received. My guess is they probably would have focused on what was best for them and NOT good for us!

As owners and managers of our centers, we have the ability to make or break our guest’s day. It is so important to listen to each situation and choose a great outcome for our customer and the center. So, this week I challenge you to go above and beyond, make their day, provide great service, and turn them into lifelong guests. As for me, I’m headed to Bali this weekend and we are not missing this flight!