Geoffrey Toffetti began his career in hospitality as a valet, eventually working his way up to Director of Guest services for Fortune Hotels in St. Petersburg Beach, FL (now the Tradewinds Island Grand). During his tenure, he learned the true nature of service, and how to achieve outstanding revenue performance while providing world-class guest experiences.
As many others, Geoffrey was lured away to join the dot com boom, and in 2000 he joined a SAS start-up called ZeroChaos. Over the next 11 years, he helped develop and grow the business into one of the largest and most successful technology-enabled business process outsourcers in the world. He gained incredible insight into delivering innovation and managing large-scale relationships with many of the Fortune 50 including IBM, Disney, AT&T, Bank of America, and Glaxo Smith Kline.
In the fall of 2011, Geoffrey joined Frontline Performance Group (FPG), a global consulting firm specializing in frontline revenue, service and performance. Geoffrey leveraged his experiences in hospitality and corporate relationship management to bring FPG solutions to large, geographically diverse companies, and lead the company into new verticals such as hospitality and theme parks.
Geoffrey’s passion has always been servant leadership, and as such, he has become a sought-after speaker on the topics of employee engagement and leadership. He can also be found on many panels regarding incremental revenue and performance technology.
You’ve produced Billions of incremental revenue dollars for your clients. What is the secret to a successful incremental revenue program?
It is common for clients to ask us this very question, particularly when we support multiple locations and some outperform others. First and foremost, our success is directly impacted by the engagement of the people involved. Over the past two decades, we experienced firsthand the influence an engaged team (led by engaged leadership) has on performance, job satisfaction, and ultimately the success of our program.
Engagement is a popular word in today’s management literature, but for FPG, it is more than a concept—engagement is our life’s blood. Our upfront focus on engagement is the first step toward producing bottom-line results for our client. Think of an average performer—someone who does only what is necessary to stay in good standing, but does not go above and beyond. Now compare that person to a top performer—someone who lights up the room and can be counted on to drive results. The difference is what we call “discretionary effort.” The real secret to achieving program success is unlocking discretionary effort in as many team members as possible.
Beyond an engaged team, the success of a revenue program is also largely driven by the impact it has on guest service. We don’t just focus on generating revenue, we focus on enhancing the guest experience. We don’t use the word upsell, we say upgrade. A family of four might have a better experience upgrading to a parlor room with an additional TV. That business traveler with an early meeting might be interested in learning about your add-on breakfast package. Even if they decline, guests will appreciate the effort to accommodate their needs, thus increasing overall guest satisfaction. We have a guest-focused, not a sales-focused approach—that is why we are successful.
We did not originally embark on a quest to build software. Our original intent was to gather insights into employee performance, and then present this data to clients in a meaningful, actionable way. However, once we gained this level of intelligence, it prompted more questions, and as it turned out, those same questions were also important to our customers. For instance, once we saw the outcome of performance, the question became “What actions impact performance, what triggers those actions, and how do we correlate those actions back to the outcomes?”
This cycle of actions, outcome, and measurement became the foundation of our system architecture. We used every version of the system internally, leveraging it as a tool kit in the delivery of our services. We soon discovered that this software does more than just monitor and measure performance—it helps improve performance, as well as engagement, ownership and overall service. After witnessing the incredible impact this software had on our own team, FPG knew we had to make it available for other businesses.
IN-Gauge takes our impact on performance, engagement, and revenue optimization to the next level. Front desk agents are able to track and measure their own performance, while setting goals and monitoring their progress. This has a significant impact on engagement and overall performance. Furthermore, managers receive detailed insights to individual and team performances, allowing them to identify top performers and develop lower performers through customized coaching, training, and e-learning.
Is IN-Gauge just for the frontline, or can it also be used in other areas of hotel?
The value of IN-Gauge goes far beyond the frontline—it is ideal for executives, stakeholders and business owners. IN-Gauge helps them identify gaps in business performance, recognize operational opportunities, and pinpoint actionable items that drive profit.
For example, hotel operators can compare and benchmark property performance side-by-side, analyze profit contribution of products and services, understand the KPIs that drive revenue, and set top-down goals based on proven results—all instantly, on a day-to-day metrics. IN-Gauge is especially valuable to hotel owners with multiple properties, as they are able to stratify by country, region or property for a comprehensive view of financial progression.
FPG made Fortune Magazine’s Best 100 Workplaces. How did you create a Fortune 100 culture?
Building a Fortune 100 culture is about the commitment to always do right by your tribe, and in return, asking them to do the same for the company and each other. We provide our customers leadership training and one of the key concepts is: Your customers will be treated the way your team members are treated.” Many times, that is a striking thought to leaders. The idea that how they speak to and treat their employees is going to be mirrored to the customer forces them to evaluate their style.
The very nature of our business is to support the creation and sustainability of highly engaged cultures. How can we ask our people to go into client environments and improve the culture if they themselves are not engaged and inspired? The answer: We can’t. We have to walk our talk every day.
With your recent acquisition of Drake Beil & Associates, FPG is now in over 500 properties. How will FPG impact those properties?
Drake Beil & Associates (DB&A) has built amazing relationships with their clients and it is our honor to welcome them into the FPG tribe. FPG’s objective is to make available to all customers the very best thinking, methodologies, technology, and training available anywhere in the world. Together, we truly are the most sophisticated and capable employee engagement and revenue generation firm in the world.
To FB&A clients, as with all existing and future FPG clients, we offer an unwavering commitment to improve the lives of those we work with:
- Front Desk Agents by equipping them to achieve their income potential.
- Front Desk Managers by inspiring them to inspire others, and helping them achieve their career goals.
- Stakeholders by helping them take their business to the next level
- Our own tribe by giving them exciting and fulfilling opportunities with some of the world’s best brands.
- Hotel guests by fostering great experiences and service.
With 25 years of success in other industries, what attracted FPG to hospitality?
Having begun my career in a luxury beach resort, I knew service-focused sales could be very substantial in this vertical. Very few industries are as people-centric as hospitality; these are businesses that put other people at the center of their purpose, which aligns perfectly with our core belief system.
We knew that our service-based sales programs would resonate in environments where service is the business. We were right. The hospitality marketplace possesses vast untapped potential for both enhanced guest experience and incremental revenue. We have a saying, “The best service you can offer is to offer your best services,” and it has never been truer than in hospitality.
The most successful sales and revenue programs anywhere in the world are built around connecting a customer’s needs and feelings to the product or service. Very few environments have the experiential products that hotels and resorts offer, and so the foundation for success is solid. We have built some amazing partnerships in this space and very much look forward to building many more in the years to come.