Christine Loose was named group director of Lodging at Kohler Co. in April and is currently overseeing the Lodge Kohler project under construction at Lambeau Field. Before that, she was general manager of Kohler’s American Club and the Inn at Wood Lake in Kohler. She sat down with Insight Editor Margaret LeBrun to talk about what it takes to strive for perfection.
Lodge Kohler will be the closest hotel to Lambeau Field — the first Four Diamond hotel in the Greater Green Bay area, with 144 rooms, including 10 suites. There will be people coming for the Lambeau experience, 365 days a year, including all the game days.
It will have a fifth-floor restaurant with a panoramic view to Lambeau Field and the Titletown District. The restaurant concept is under wraps now but there will be a big reveal in the next three to six months.
As group director for lodging at Kohler, I oversee our hotels, our restaurants, including in Kohler, Green Bay and St. Andrews, Scotland — and close to 1,000 employees.
I’ve hired a general manager for Lodge Kohler and we have started construction. What is really fun is we are in the process of picking out all the interiors, from the tissue box holder to the lobby furniture.
What’s most important is that we are consulting the AAA, Four Diamond criteria that calls for a certain level of luxury that you have to hit. For example, within each room you need to have at least three advanced AV technology elements. Materials must be high quality; in the bathroom the tile has to be natural stone or granite, the lighting must have come from multiple points with dimmers. So obviously, as Kohler we’ve had a lot of fun designing the bathrooms, and we’re featuring a lot of new products so the guests will have a hotel bathroom experience like no other.
I’ve worked in four industries: telecommunications, newspapers, plumbing and now the hospitality industry. Two of those were at Kohler — I did six and a half years in hospitality, then seven years in plumbing. Before that I was classified advertising manager with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. My experience has always been in customer service and sales with some marketing.
If you think about a hotel you have to focus on the guest and operations to run. Those came together and it was learning the unique aspects of hospitality. It entails having good processes in place for training, good inspection processes — whether that’s secret shoppers in the restaurant, observing a check-in at the front desk, observing constant feedback, both positive and corrective. It requires tenacious attention to detail; you can’t walk past a scratch on the desk or a burnt-out lightbulb. I greet a guest the same way I expect our staff to greet a guest. It’s recognizing people for demonstrating those behaviors. It is having a relentless spirit. One bad day, one bad check-in could mean the end of the five-star rating.
One thing that’s important to know about customer service is it’s easy to get things right, but it’s when things go wrong, that’s when I have high expectations. My team is 100 percent empowered to do whatever it takes to surprise a guest or recover from a bad experience. No one is going to get in trouble for making honest mistakes. However, failing to recover from a mistake is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
The second is, we always receive guest feedback as a gift. Not every feedback will we agree with, but you have to let the guest know you treasure it, because they’ve taken their time to share that with you. When you do that, you always find where your processes are breaking down, and then you can quickly fix them. I call this hotel in Green Bay a labor of love. It has been the best project you can imagine, from the ground up, and our partnership with the Packers has been fantastic.