All Smiles — How to Create Happy Clients

Interview with Kelli Wawro, Catering & Planning Manager, Grand View Lodge

Happy clients can become repeat clients. Positive experiences can elicit enthusiastic testimonials which can translate into attracting new business. No doubt about it, happy clients means better business for you. What can you do to make sure your clients are all smiles? Kelli Wawro, Catering & Planning Manager at Grand View Lodge shares her experiences.

Q. Tell me about Grand View and what you do there.

A. Grand View is a historic lodge on Gull Lake in the Brainerd Lakes Area. Since 1916 we’ve been welcoming guests who enjoy our deluxe accommodations, high standard of service, beautiful atmosphere, and dedicated staff. As Catering & Planning Manager, I oversee all corporate groups who visit us. Our department works through all the details of their stay including dining, planning activities, and meeting requirements.

Q. What things do the staff at Grand View do to ensure guest satisfaction?

A. We are pretty blessed to have a helpful and friendly staff. Everyone tries to quickly respond to guests’ needs and requests, making sure their stay runs as smoothly as possible. For example, we share our Northwoods News activity schedule and resort maps upon check-in, so guests know what we have to offer and where it’s taking place.

We also work to improve the guest experience. In fact, we’re opening our new rec center, NorthPark, this March. It has indoor and outdoor lap pools with shallow areas for kids. The indoor pool has a water slide while both also feature hot tubs. There’s a brand-new fitness center that overlooks the indoor pool. It includes treadmills, ellipticals, and weights. There’s also a yoga and spin room with regularly scheduled classes. But if a guest can’t make those times, they have the option of working out virtually at their convenience. There is a kid’s club room, locker rooms, restrooms, and a gift shop including snack items.

Additionally, we’re building a 60-room hotel, called North, with four meeting rooms that’s scheduled to open in June. This way corporate guests who prefer a hotel experience to a cabin or condo will have that option.

Finally, we recently made our new garden cottages available to guests. These are 4-5-bedroom units that are just beautiful and offer another choice in luxury accommodations.

Q. How does your staff respond to guest complaints?

A. We have a few ways we reach out to guests if they have a complaint. Depending upon how or when the complaint comes through, we’ll respond in person, via text, phone call, or by email. We also make a point of replying quickly and kindly. Additionally, we have a concierge service, so they monitor and respond to guest complaints. Our managers are involved if it’s something that’s happened on site. And our General Manager is very hands on as well.

Q. Any tips or advice for planners on ensuring happy clients?

A. It’s important for guests to let us know exactly what they want to receive during their stay. Are they interested in team building? Activities? Or strictly business? If we know their needs in advance, we can tailor a custom experience for their group.

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Kelli Wawro, Catering & Planning Manager | Grand View Lodge |

Kelli Wawro joined Grand View Lodge in the spring of 2010 as an intern for the Sales and Planning Department. In the fall, Kelli spent some time in the Marketing Department where she worked as a Marketing Communications Specialist. Come spring 2011, Kelli returned full time to the Sales and Planning team as an Event Planner. In 2014, she was promoted to Senior Event Planner and in 2018, was promoted to Catering & Planning Manager. Prior to working at Grand View Lodge, Kelli attended Minnesota State University, Mankato. Kelli now resides in Lake Shore with her husband and daughter.

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