April 25, 2014
An Executive Interview with Gulph Creek Hotels Principal/President Amy Gancasz
1. Could you tell us a bit about your career path and what your role involves now?
For as long as I can remember, I have had an interest in the Hospitality Field. I began my career on the food service side of the business, working in a restaurant during my high school years and into my initial college years. After my first year of college, I applied to work at the front desk of a small hotel. I didn’t get the front desk position, but was offered a position in housekeeping, which I happily accepted. I wanted to work in a hotel and wanted to learn everything I could about it. After that summer, I went back to college and started working at the Front Desk of a hotel near my university. While at that hotel, I was promoted to FOM, then to GM while completing my degree at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI. It was then that I realized that I loved the hotel side of the business. It was at that hotel, I was able to work in every department and just gain knowledge on a continuous basis. I then went on to work at other various hotels and resorts and eventually made my way to Pennsylvania. I joined Gulph Creek Hotels as an Assistant General Manager in 1998 and worked my way up to the position I hold today. It was not me alone that got me to where I am. I have been fortunate to have positive mentors and supportive team members by my side.
2. Do you think being a woman made it more of a challenge to get where you are?
I have never really thought of being a woman as a challenge in career advancement for me. I do think that challenge is there, but I never allowed myself to focus on it. My focus is and has been to work hard, to not be afraid to take risks, continued education and a deep appreciation for a support team who is honest, dedicated and equally goal oriented.
3. Share with us how you balance family life and running a hotel company?
My family is truly amazing. They help me with the balance. They have seen me go through some difficult obstacles and they have also seen me pleased with the outcomes. They know that things can be hectic at times, there will be long days, and nights away from home and it may not be easy, but they continually support my career. Going to work each day is a little easier knowing I have my family behind me.
4. Who are some of your business mentors?
When you ask this question, I don’t only think of “business” mentors. I have been fortunate to have several different mentors. First, I think of my Grandmother. She was a strong woman who loved people, was honest, direct and would do anything for her family. I strive to be like her. Second, my parents who went to work and worked hard every day and then came home and worked even harder to run a family. They are the example I use today to balance my family and my career. Third, my high school basketball coach. He was that person who taught me you can have a superstar on the court, but ultimately it takes all five on the court giving it 110% for the entire play, that everyone has a role and it has to be executed to be successful. Lastly, my business mentors, Doug McBrearty and Clarke Blynn. Doug and Clarke helped to give me the tools to run a business, to do it with honesty and integrity. I was able to learn from them while working directly with them for 12 years.
5. What trends in the hospitality industry are you most encouraged by and frightened of?
I am encouraged by the ability to utilize many different marketing strategies that have a greater reach to the customer due to technology especially with social media and mobility. I think it is easier to evaluate strategies on a rapid basis and redirect the strategy to what does work, the tools to make those changes are much more efficient now and that will continue to be the trend. The trend that I feel is and will continue to be most challenging is the level of service expectation from the traveler. The training for hotel teams will need to be more intense now than it has ever been. The need to provide exceptional service is just as important as it has always been, but I think the ability to read the traveler and understand their needs is the driving force to the overall satisfaction.
6. GCH recently partnered with Altland House Hospitality Group to purchase the Holiday Inn York, PA. What made this opportunity appealing?
Altland House Hospitality Group has been successful in the food service industry. They are well known in the York and surrounding areas and carry a strong positive reputation. We sought this opportunity because we thought with the ability to combine the knowledge, experience and success of Gulph Creek Partners as hotel managers with the same of Altland House Hospitality Group that we have a strong recipe for success. Together, we have the ability to take a hotel that has not had the capital input and directives for several years and renovate and focus on building a strong team, which will result in a desirable location to sleep, dine and host social and corporate events resulting in a positive investment.
What book are your reading now? Endal: How One Extraordinary Dog Brought a Family Back from the Brink By: Allen and Sandra Parton
Favorite Sports Team? Philadelphia Phillies
Favorite Musical Artist? Maroon 5-Adam Levine
Favorite Quote? Everything happens for a reason