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Hotel Hospitality Stories I Learned While Training One Of The Best Banks In The World! – By Doug Kennedy

Bank vault in Sioux Falls, United States - Unsplash

Hotel Hospitality Stories I Learned While Training One Of The Best Banks In The World!

One day a few months back, the main phone line rang at our headquarters office. Can you imagine the surprise when our receptionist heard a man’s voice saying this: “Hello, this is Doug Kennedy calling for Doug Kennedy.” At first, she thought it to be a prank, but thankfully she did not hang up on him, because it was in fact Doug Kennedy, President & CEO of Peapack-Gladstone Bank, which is a regional bank based in New Jersey that offers personal banking through its branch network, robust wealth management services and commercial banking solutions.

As it turns out, Doug Kennedy had been personally spearheading an internal initiative to take his relatively small but mighty bank to even higher levels of service. They had already formed a task force, implemented the best practices of industry leaders such as Disney and Ritz-Carlton, and launched a company-wide service excellence program they named “White Glove Service,” but Doug sensed there was still more to be discovered. Can you imagine how surprised Doug Kennedy was when his Google Search led him to another Doug Kennedy! He reached out after purchasing my book, “So You REALLY Like Working With People?” and reading it on Kindle while on a flight to Ft. Lauderdale airport where, upon landing, he realized he was only 3 miles from our headquarters office. Unfortunately, I was out training a resort in New Mexico, so we did not get to meet that day.

Very soon thereafter, I was on a plane for what I thought would be a one-hour meeting at their corporate offices because, after all, he was a busy bank President. Four hours later, after an engaging, collaborative meeting, we had a handshake deal for me to present 9 days of on-site training for his entire company, covering 500 colleagues across all levels, divisions, and roles.

As with all KTN clients, when rolling-out the training we also offer free consulting as a value-added service, so part of the process is to ensure that our hospitality training is “nested” in a culture where it will thrive. Therefore, I began to ask questions about ongoing training, communication, empowerment, innovation, and recognition. Amazingly, all of the necessary “infrastructure” was already in place. Here are but a few examples:

On top of that, I learned that they have had record growth for 10 of the past 11 years, with the only exception being 2020 of course, and that they had been named by American Banker, as a “Best Banks to Work For” for 5 years in a row (2018-2022), moving up higher in the rankings each year.

Soon it became clear that Doug Kennedy never rests, and he will always lead this bank in an ongoing journey to excellence. The Japanese have a word for this: Kaizen.

As those who have attended my training know, our workshops are very interactive, and we encourage participants to share their stories. Here are but a very few of those that surfaced over the course of 13 half-day workshops I’ve presented thus far.

While the situations and circumstances may be different, those who work in the hotel and lodging industry encounter opportunities every day to initiate similar gestures of hospitality for our guests. Here are some reminders:

Surely, such gestures are good for businesses and will undoubtedly lead to guest loyalty, word-of-mouth advertising, and social media buzz. But more importantly, these gestures help foster a hospitality culture that will encourage staff loyalty too. Afterall, we humans are social creatures and most of us want to be part of a company with a heart.

Doug Kennedy

About Doug Kennedy

Doug Kennedy

Doug Kennedy is President of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. a leading provider of hotel sales, guest service, reservations, and front desk training programs and telephone mystery shopping services for the lodging and hospitality industry. Doug continues to be a fixture on the industry’s conference circuit for hotel companies, brands and associations, as he been for over two decades. Since 1996, Doug’s monthly training articles have been published worldwide, making him one of the most widely read hospitality industry authorities. Visit KTN at or email him directly

Doug is the author of So You REALLY Like Working With People? – Five Principles for Hospitality Excellence.

Posted by on February 15, 2023.

Categories: Sales and Marketing

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