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Sharing A Career In Hospitality

By Nora Molloy, Speakers Bureau
October 3, 2007

On a warm spring day last semester, Carl Lindblade stood before a group of 30 senior citizens who were fresh from lunch and a little low key. He was there to give a presentation on New Hampshire history for the UNH Speakers Bureau, but first, he decided, he'd tell a story to wake up the tired group. In a typically animated way, with his voice in character, he told of a prim and proper woman who worked for New Hampshire Travel and Tourism, representing the state to all who contacted the office. One day she received an out-of-state phone call from a gentleman who was inquiring about nudist camps in New Hampshire. The punch line? “Don't come in June,” she said, “the black flies will kill you!” The group cracked up.

Lindblade is an instructor in the hospitality management department at WSBE and an active member of the Speakers Bureau. In the past year, he has taken on 20 speaking engagements across New Hampshire—from the Governor's Conference on Volunteerism in Concord to Leadership North Country in Berlin to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Conference in Durham.

It makes sense that a professor of hospitality management would lecture on state history because of its ties to tourism, but in his presentation, “The Customer's Always Wrong...It's Not My Fault!" Lindblade also discusses business and the importance of customer service. He enriches academic topics with a few stories, the right dose of humor from his personal experiences, and an enthusiasm that makes a presentation an event, not a lecture.

Lindblade's career in hospitality began at The Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch. There, he was first introduced to the “American Plan,” an all-inclusive package for guests that allowed hotel staff to put service and the needs and desires of customers first.

“What's unfortunate today,” he says, “is that in the hospitality industry it's no longer the value of the guest that's important, but the value of the real estate.”

Lindblade stresses this point with his students by telling another story: he was manager at the renowned Red Jacket Resort in North Conway when a fellow member of the local bank's board of directors requested a room reservation for a very high powered guest arriving from France. Lindblade admits he flat out forgot to make that reservation, until he received a middle-of-the-night call from the desk manager who had two jet-lagged, bleary-eyed visitors standing in the lobby and a No Vacancy sign out front.

Fortunately, the resort had an open room because of a no-show reservation, but it was not a room worthy of a dignitary from France. In the morning, a very apologetic Lindblade met the guests and took responsibility for the error; he offered the guests a move into an appropriate available suite. Their response? “Your serve wasn't so great, but the return was fantastic.” Even with himself as the punch line, Lindblade tells this story now to clearly illustrate the importance of honesty, customer service, and relationship building—qualities that he considers to be the backbone of business.

The unique blend of business, personal experience, knowledge, and passion for New Hampshire and the state's history make Lindblade an interesting character and a speaker in demand. Recently, he was asked to speak on state history at the Tip Top House atop Mt. Washington. It was an appropriate assignment: he had attended the building's dedication some years ago and had a commemorative plate to share with the group. (Plates are a hobby of Lindblade's, and he collects rare and long out-of-use patterns from some of New Hampshire's finest and most-renowned hotels of yesteryear. Like swapping rare rookie baseball cards, he's been known to make trades with other like-minded history buffs he has met in his travels.)

“I enjoy speaking to the different groups,” Lindblade says. “I so often get to make connections with people whose paths I have crossed before without knowing it. I get to share information and usually learn a little something new as well.”

But audiences beware: as he savors each experience, he’s always collecting stories for the next engagement. Each will become a little piece of New Hampshire history.

The UNH Speakers Bureau is always accepting new speakers and new topics. If you would like to be come involved or would like more information, contact program coordinator Nora Molloy, 2-4702, speakers.bureau@unh.edu.

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