These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Justin Robbins was recently named the general manager for Sage Lodge.
1. What are you looking forward to most in your new role?
The easy answer is the fact that my daily “office” has an unbelievable view of 1000+ acres just north of Yellowstone National Park that are surrounded by majestic peaks and incredible wildlife – the perks of working in Montana. However, the real excitement comes from the amazing Park County community, and the inherited “Montana Hospitality” that all of our team members provide to our guests. This unprecedented level of hospitality seems natural for our local team members, and guests are routinely amazed by how genuine their interactions are during their stay.
2. How do you think past experiences have prepared you for this role?
Having worked on a luxury Montana guest ranch previously has certainly helped with understanding the region, but what I continue to preach to my colleagues and new team members is that “experience” has nothing to do with roles at a hotel, restaurant, or outfitter. Instead, experience has everything to do with one’s own personality and character. I believe that character cannot be taught during a new hire orientation, or while checking guests in five days a week. Rather, character is defined by how you approach each day and embrace challenges thrown your way. I am thankful to have fantastic support from my family and friends, to which I attribute all of my quality “traits” that have helped prepare me for my current position.
3. How did you get into this industry?
As with so many things in life, I was simply following young love. Having started my collegiate career at The University of Oregon within Computer Science, my girlfriend at the time had the notion to study Hotel Management in Las Vegas at UNLV, which at the time was a very foreign and odd degree to pursue within the education system. My sense of adventure (which is required for ANY hotelier!) naturally led me to follow, switching schools and majors and eventually start working as the Overnight Front Desk agent at the Venetian and Palazzo, a 7,500 all-suite hotel. It was fascinating to be part of an operation of that scale and to be surrounded by individuals that genuinely enjoyed their job, regardless of role or responsibilities. I found the sense of community within the “hotel crowd” was contagious – I was hooked.
4. What are you hoping to achieve in your new role?
Sage Lodge has been in operation for less than two years, and as such is very much in the infancy stage of development. This is the most exciting stage of any hotel’s path! The first few years are when we evolve and implement strategies to truly push the potential of the property and overall travel dynamic to the area. To be in the driver seat for these key steps is an incredible honor. My role is to embrace the creativity and passion of the team and ensure that we continue to push the envelope of our potential, for both Sage Lodge and Montana tourism.
5. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
Very few industries in today’s economy offer the daily improvisation and emotional connection to the guest experience as the hospitality industry. Our industry requires you to pay close personal attention and cater specifically to each unique guest circumstance. Never are guest conversations exactly the same and that is exactly what keeps this industry so amazing! It’s hard to quantify this engagement, but it is the lifeblood of the industry and what sets us apart from any sort of automation or robotic actions as a team. How we engage dialogue with a family from New York looking to explore everything that Montana has to offer will be a very different conversation than that of a “staycation” for the local couple from nearby Bozeman; yet both conversations are approached with intention to guide the experience in a way that wows the guest in a way that couldn’t have been discovered without that interaction.
We, as an industry, are emotionally connected to ensure guests have the best experience as personalized to your preferences. It’s a challenging task that keeps me eager to return to work every day. There is no better feeling to have planned the perfect itinerary, then have the guest come back the next year, simply due to that human interaction.