Pittsburgh GM is in it for the people
24 JULY 2015 5:37 AM
Rob Mallinger is on a mission to keep his guests and employees happy during his tenure as GM at the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh. The rest will come, he said.
PITTSBURGH—If Rob Mallinger wanted a slow-paced life, he wouldn’t be working in hospitality.
“I thrive in busier situations,” said the GM of the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, a Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants property that opened in January.
And while he admits the job isn’t 9 to 5 but more of “whenever I’m needed,” and juggling work and life can be challenging with a 2-year-old daughter at home, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I think a lot of us have had jobs where the day goes by slowly and you’re looking at the clock and you’re bored, and you might take a long lunch because you don’t have a lot to do at your desk,” he said. “I had that for a few months, and then quickly realized I can’t do that. I want to be busy all day. I want to look down at the clock and be surprised that it’s seven o’clock at night.”
Mallinger has worked in the hotel industry since 2002, starting off his career in Washington, D.C., before moving to Pittsburgh to help open the Fairmont in 2009. At that property, he worked as the opening controller. He was with the Fairmont brand for about 10 years before joining Kimpton.
“When I found out that Kimpton was coming, I said I need to give this a shot. I really wanted to be at a company like this. … I really wanted to be part of something this special in this city,” Mallinger said.
A people person
First and foremost, Mallinger is a people person.
“If you don’t like people, you’re not in this industry. It’s hard work, and most people are really fantastic to work with and talk to. And some aren’t. That’s just how things are,” he said.
Not surprising for someone who loves people, the hiring process is one of Mallinger’s favorite things about being a hotel GM.
“We spend a lot of time interviewing, a lot of time going through resumes, and we don’t settle,” he said. “You need a lot of good people. It really sets the tone. You’re getting people who have that passion, have that energy, have that enthusiasm.
“We can teach you how to make a bed; we can teach you how to check a guest in. We can’t teach you how to be personable and outgoing and just happy.”
When it comes to the front desk, he said associates don’t follow a script and that personality is key.
“That’s part of who we are as Kimpton. They are told to be themselves. They have to be professional, obviously, and look professional. They are to have conversations with guests that they would have with their friends,” Mallinger said.
He said it’s more important for employees to “read” the guest. “If a guest doesn’t want to hang out and talk at the front desk, then make sure it’s an efficient check-in or check-out. But if the guest is showing you that they want to engage, our team is ready and willing to engage.”
When asked about his favorite part of the Hotel Monaco, he said it’s the service.
“You’ll notice as we’re standing in the ballroom area, our public area attendant says hello and have a nice day. It’s those types of things that make us really special,” he said.
Mallinger’s management philosophy consists of two pillars: “We need to keep our guests happy, and we need to keep ourselves happy. The rest will come.”
That philosophy translates well at a hotel like the Monaco, where, as at every Kimpton property, a nightly wine hour is hosted for guests. That’s when employees can really connect with guests, Mallinger said.
“At the core of it we are here to serve the guests. When you actually get to know them, it feels good. It feels like you’re making a difference that you don’t always see when you’re in front of your computer,” he said.
Editor’s note: VisitPittsburgh paid for travel expenses, hotel accommodations, food and entertainment for two nights. Complete editorial control was at the discretion of the Hotel News Now editorial team; VisitPittsburgh had no influence on the coverage provided.