How to Impress Your Boss

The hotel industry revolves around continual learning and best practices. I started my first job at the very bottom of the ladder, in positions such as laundry, houseman, front desk, and night audit, and worked my way on up to GM and regional director of operations. Now, at age 36, I’m vice president of a nationwide hospitality management and consulting company. I’ve had the pleasure of assisting with more than 50 hotel turnarounds on television, in addition to working at nearby hotels to stay fresh. There have been numerous awards along the way, too—White Glove, GM of the Year, Lodging Member of the Year, 40 Under 40—but the job title that means the most to me is that of “mentor.” I enjoy seeing that little light bulb over someone’s head after sharing and teaching what I know so they can grow.

Here’s one simple lesson that I’ve imparted to many of my colleagues. It’s not that hard to impress your boss and get in his good graces. And I’m not talking about being a brownnoser either. The best tools in your arsenal are your own two ears.

When I was general manager of a Holiday Inn Express, I created a list of my superiors, ranging from assistant managers and regional directors to top executives, and found out their likes and dislikes. Whenever they visited, I made sure we had their favorite snacks, drinks and sundries in stock. I’m not suggesting you spend the hotel’s money just to make your boss comfortable—you should purchase it as a gift from your own savings. Think of it as an investment in yourself.

Looking back at old notes, the president of one of the companies I worked for liked Jack Daniels, Perrier, and Evian, as well as salty pretzels, salsa, and cheese dips for potato chips. So, we started supplying the hotel admin closet with the drinks and snacks he enjoyed and put them in his room whenever he arrived. On one particular visit, he thanked me and said he appreciated the nice gesture, but he couldn’t possibly bring everything back home on the plane. Instead, he said I should give the items to the staff, and it wasn’t necessary for future visits.


Listening to what the president liked showed that I paid attention and went the extra mile to make those items available to him. (Full-service general managers should make sure their salespeople do the same for VIP guests in their hotel.) The fact that he thanked me was also a big deal for someone in my position. In the end, my staff ended up with high-end treats from me—and they worked a little harder that day because of the added incentive.

Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big impact. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion, and you’ll often become the smartest gal or guy in the room.

About the Author
Daniel A. Johnson, CHA, aka Mr. Particular, is vice president of operations for Argeo Hospitality, an Anthony Melchiorri Company.

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Daniel A. Johnson, CHA, CHIA, is an award-winning hotelier with decades of industry experience. He currently serves as a consultant to hotel owners and developers throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.