WIESBADEN, Germany - They say good things come in threes.
For patrons and staff of the Wiesbaden Lodge that means celebrating the lodge’s third year in a row as the best worldwide. Not only did the facility earn Lodging Operation of the Year honors in the Large Category (for the third year in a row) in the Installation Management Command competition, but Wiesbaden Lodge Manager James Weber was named Manager of the Year (for the third time).
The Wiesbaden Lodge’s Nichole Weigel also earned recognition as Army Lodging’s Employee of the Year.
“We’ve got a great team,” said Weber, acknowledging that the Lodge of the Year Award “celebrates the whole group of people who work at the lodge.
“Most people don’t realize all that goes on at the hotel,” to consistently provide outstanding customer service, said Weber, describing the many moving parts of the operation – from housekeeping and linen services to grounds keeping, reception, training, accounting and more.
“It has to be everyone involved in the effort. … People do this job because they really care. They are all working toward that goal of taking care of people,” he said.
Having earned the prestigious Certified Guest Service Property designation from the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute in 2015, the Wiesbaden Lodge has continued to ensure excellent service through a mix of ongoing training, peer-to-peer recognition and other developmental initiatives.
“To begin with, new employees get a week-and-a-half of standardized training,” said Weber, whereafter, “they work closely with their supervisor. After 90 days, they can get certified with the AHLEI.”
Throughout the process, the management staff acknowledges and celebrates each step, he explained. “When staff complete their training we have a little ceremony. They really get welcomed into the team and continue to develop. It’s about a two-month process,” Weber said.
“I’ve got great supervisors here,” said Weigel, who has worked her way up the ranks from reception to overseeing accounting at the lodge in her nearly 10 years at the Wiesbaden Lodge.
“I’m super grateful for the recognition,” she said. “I think the culture here has really empowered me. … It’s based on collaboration and teamwork. We all have the same mission and vision. Management makes it very clear to realize what our mission is” – providing the best possible service for guests.
The Lodge Employee of the Year said her work has inspired her to pursue academic credentials to support her career. “I’m working on getting my bachelor’s degree in business administration. … Working full-time here and full-time in school has been tough, but it’s allowed me to excel in my job and has contributed to my growth and development.”
“She makes sure all of our books are straight,” said Weber, pointing out that the Wiesbaden Lodge earned $6 million in revenue last year.
Consistent positive feedback from the people it serves attests to the hard work of the staff. “We get a lot of customer comment cards such as “people were so nice and really took care of us,” said Weber, adding that some guests stay at the facility for 30-50 days.
“We sell about 50,000 rooms a year. On any given day, we’ll have about 175 guests,” depending on the time of year, he said.
Among the 50 employees who work at the Wiesbaden Lodge, many have been with the team for up to a decade or more, which also helps in ensuring consistency and outstanding service, Weber said. “I think that being here for a while really helps. That climate (of excellence) catches on. It’s contagious.”
The manager said he works closely with other lodge managers to ensure high standards across the force. “We’re doing a lot of things – such as serving waffles, cookies and having espresso in the rooms to name a few – that other lodges in Europe are now offering – many of these initiatives have started in Wiesbaden,” Weber said.
The Wiesbaden Lodge and its staff will be honored by the Garrison Command team during a special celebration event this summer – “once the trophies arrive,” said Weber. As part of the award, the Lodge will receive $25,000 to be used toward further lodge operation improvements. Each staff member on the rolls at the time of the Lodging Operation of the Year awards will also receive a Lodging of the Year pin and a special act award of $173.