The Layover: Q&A with Dan

My Place Hotels VP of National Sales Dan Hilsendeger is usually busy traveling the country, meeting with the brand’s largest multi-property accounts, and setting up great deals and partnerships that further the brand’s recognition in growing territory. We caught up with Dan to get the lowdown on his job, changing guest needs, and even a few questions we often overlook.

  1. How would you describe your job in one sentence? My job is to find customers with hotel needs, deliver on those needs and, with time, develop those customer relationships into meaningful friendships.
  2. Relationships are obviously critical to your work. What are your favorite questions to ask people you want to know better? In my first meeting I may or may not ask about specific hotel needs. I will do research in advance and make sure I understand my guest’s needs. In conversation I like to ask about their industry, current location, community or something specific about what they do to understand how My Place can help. My goal is to transcend the transaction and to be the kind of person they want to work with.
  3. Are your customer’s needs changing? If so, how? I think our customers’ needs are changing. Rate, however big of a factor, is not always the priority. The questions I often hear revolve around the age of the hotel, how close it is to our customers’ ultimate destination and the security of the hotel itself.
  4. How does My Place address those needs? All My Place Hotels are newly built and reflect today’s best standards in quality and service. Guests also feel more confident about the condition and security of our new hotels. And when it comes to location, our franchise team does an amazing job working with ownership groups to find the best locations with demand generators in close proximity.
  5. If it was up to you, where would you build My Place Hotels? I have a little West Coast Bias here. I can’t wait for hotels in California and New Mexico especially. While our footprint has expanded throughout much of it, it would be awesome to see hotels in all of the 11 Western states.
  6. When was the last time you face palmed? I don’t embarrass easily, so not for a long time. However, my kids must think I am embarrassing since they face palm whenever I: get dressed, sing, dance, talk to boy/girlfriends, you name it.
  7. What’s the hardest you’ve ever worked? Wow, that is a tough one. I think it is this year. I will turn 50 in a month and want to make sure I am in good physical health, I had my roles change with My Place about a year ago, I have a kid in college and two in high school and a wife of 29 years. I have worked extremely hard to find the balance in all areas of my life.
  8. What’s the most memorable thing you’ve done or had happen while traveling? Whenever I travel, I like to explore the local scene and what cities are known for. While in St. George, UT, I wanted to explore the “slot canyons” that bring people to the area. I tried climbing through one of them and found myself “stuck”. My head was turned to the side, so I could only look to my left and I wedged myself into a place where I could not advance but only retreat. However, (to retreat) I needed to ask a group of 12-year-old Boy Scouts to retreat as well so I could get out.
  9. What’s the best joke you know by heart? Once my dog ate all the Scrabble tiles. For days he kept leaving little messages around the house.
  10. What life skills are rarely taught but extremely useful? Listening, not hearing, but listening. With all of the electronics we have in our lives today, we are hearing the TV, the videos playing on our phones and the surrounding conversations all at the same time. We are hearing them, but are we listening to them? Listening is a skill that helps in school, significant others (my wife is still teaching me after 29 years) and at work. I want to teach my kids how to listen to what people have to say, not just hear the noise.
That one time Dan got stuck in a slot canyon…