How I Work: Robert Hannigan, general manager of the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel

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The Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel is a new crown jewel in Charlotte’s skyline.

And as pretty as the tower looks near Romare Bearden Park, the inside is getting just as rave of reviews — from the rooftop Merchant & Trade bar to the guest rooms.

A big reason why? Robert Hannigan.

Rob came to Charlotte to open the Tryon Park location after two years as general manager at the Kimpton in Portland, Oregon. Before that, he served in various capacities at Kimpton hotels in Los Angeles, San Diego, Alexandria, Virginia, and Washington D.C.

We at the Agenda were able to pick Rob’s brain about what it’s like to work in the hotel and how he stays productive.

Office location?

Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel

Job title?

General Manager

Phone type?

iPhone X

Computer?

HP Elitebook

To-do list manager?

Microsoft One Note (work) / Evernote (personal)

Apps you can’t live without?

There’s too many! I use Instagram for design inspiration, Spotify for music, Waze for travel, Sworkit for on-the-road fitness, Map My Ride for cycling and HeadSpace for winding down.

Social media habits?

I’ll use Facebook for staying in touch with friends and family and Instagram to be inspired by great imagery. I do spend a good deal of time on various media channels responding to our guests’ feedback, including TripAdvisor, Google, Yelp, Expedia, Booking.com and of course thousands of post-stay email surveys. We review and respond to every one.

Charlotte’s Kimpton currently has a 4/5 rating on Yelp, but I’d expect that to edge up over time.

Sleep routine?

5 – 6 hours (not my choice)

Music at work?

I spend a lot of my day moving around the hotel, but when I do finally sit down it’s Pandora or Spotify. Pandora has a lot of great stations that run the gamut of providing energy, calm or being a great background noise neutralizer.

What do you do during your commute?

As a rule, I’ve always lived close to work so I can be there in the event of an emergency at any hour and in any weather. As a 24/7 business, it’s part of the profession. Currently, my commute is about 15 minutes by car, but in order to keep up the variety I’ll also bike and use the Blue Line. Being able to navigate the city in a variety of ways is an important skill to assist our guests.

How do you spend the first hour of your day?

I’m up at 5 a.m. and in the office by 7:15 a.m. My day will start by working out, walking my two dogs and then getting an update from our hotel. That includes reviewing shift manager reports from the previous evening, financials and any guest feedback.

What do you eat for breakfast?

Usually fruit, yogurt and grains. Although I make as much effort as possible to get into our Angeline’s restaurant for the Oxtail Hash.

What do you actually do? Walk us through a day in your life.

You can only imagine how different every day in a hotel is.

One day we’re sold out with a large business convention, the following day we’re hosting Panthers fans, concert attendees or a wedding party.

But typically, my day will follow pretty set routines. The first is attending our daily “lineups.” That’s meeting each department and reviewing the previous day’s performance and what the day’s focus will be. We start with our wonderful housekeeping team, then meet with our Rooms Division leaders, then our sales and F&B teams.

From there it’s a variety of meetings that focus on hotel and restaurant operations and guest satisfaction. I also spend a good amount of time working with our ownership group on a variety of issues. The fact that they’re both local and a wonderful partner has made that part of the job a lot easier.

I’ll usually interface with the community in some fashion. This could be greeting a group site tour or speaking with a local business or nonprofit.

Finally, because we’re a Kimpton hotel, I spend a good deal of my day working with and supporting our incredible hotel and restaurant staffs. We’ve been fortunate enough to be on numerous “Best Places to Work” lists, and the time and effort our management team puts into coaching and supporting our staff translates into great service for our guests.

The job focus changes hourly — that’s why it’s such a great job.

What are some unusual habits you have and why do you have them?

Staying organized is critical. Between 217 guest rooms and over 200 employees, there’s a lot of moving parts to our environment. So my day is planned down to the minute, in order to make every moment count.

I rely on my calendars as well as productivity apps to make that happen. I also count on staying on track with a great management team. They’re a very empowered group of individuals, but it’s important to stay connected so we’re all working toward a common goal.

What everyday thing are you really good at?

With all the practice I’ve had at work, I’d say making a bed. I can do a hospital corner you could slice deli meat on.

Best time-saving shortcut or life hack?

Schedule a meeting that has an end time, not just a start time. You’d be amazed how well the group will police itself in order to make the most of finite time.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The people I work with. It has taught me respect for different cultures, the importance of diversity and how much hard work and a great attitude translates to success at any level.

Where do you go around Charlotte to get away from the office?

I play tourist. It is extremely important to be an expert on the city for the guests we host. So I’m continually in the different neighborhoods around the city checking out a new restaurant, a museum exhibit or a great day trip destination. It also helps you gain a true appreciation for a great city like Charlotte.

Mint Museum

What’s your favorite side project?

I’m learning to play the bagpipe. It’s a blast to play and attracts a lot of attention. The best part is that no one can tell if you’re any good.

If you weren’t doing your current job, what would you be doing?

I’d be working in a hotel in some capacity. Ideal job? Doorman: It’s front row seats to the greatest show on earth!

What’s the best investment you’ve ever made?

The 14 years I’ve spent with my wonderful wife Eileen. She keeps me sane and grounded in a very hectic work environment. As a hotel vet herself, she understands the pressures that come with the job.

What’s a purchase of less than $100 that’s most improved your work output or life?

I’d have to say some of the great apps out there that focus on health, wellness or productivity. You can use them on the road, while staying in our hotel, anywhere really. There’s a great app from Rosetta Stone that allows me to take Spanish lessons while waiting for appointments or standing on line. That translates into being able to better contribute to a multicultural work environment.

There are so many opportunities out there for learning and self-improvement, even if you’re in them for just a few minutes a day.

Other than the Agenda, what media brands do you consume?

For traditional media the New York Times. For new media, I go to TED Talks for inspiration from a variety of thought leaders. I also use podcasts for a variety of content. Some of my favorites are The Moth, Fresh Air, the Tim Ferris Show and for a good chuckle, Mortified.

Advice to your 30-year old self?

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Focus on a healthy diet, a healthy lifestyle and commit to continuous self-improvement. It is not that I have not, but as you get older, you truly appreciate the importance of it.

Best job advice you’ve received?

Don’t manage anyone whose job you don’t know how to do. Learn their job before you presume to be their manager. It helps you understand the challenges they face, and it also builds respect and trust for your team when they see senior leaders not afraid to get their hands dirty.

I’ve made a lot of beds and served a lot of drinks over the years, but it really helps you understand the bigger picture when you take that approach.

Book you gift the most?

How to be a Gentleman by Thomas Nelson.

What’s one thing people don’t know about Charlotte that they should?

That their city will grow increasingly popular and successful. With my career in hospitality, I’ve had a chance to live in a number of cities around the country, and Charlotte’s a wonderful place. I’d expect the growth to continue for some time.

What other Charlottean would you like to answer these questions?

Mayor Vi Lyles.

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