If you’ve seen Anthony Melchiorri on Hotel Impossible, you know he likes to get things done. If one of the struggling properties profiled on the Travel Channel show had a run-down patio or poor plumbing, Melchiorri was all about finding a solution. No time for much squabbling — somebody grab a ladder or a paint brush and get to work.
Even though the show’s eight-season run has concluded, he’s still at it. “I have a company called Hospitality Success Program,” said Melchiorri, a New Yorker who’s had his hand in some aspect of the hotel world for more than 25 years. “Today’s one of those days where we’re talking to hoteliers all over the country about their businesses.”
Melchiorri (pronounced “Mel-key-ory”) tells us that he’s on the road after that. He’s just not quite sure where and when he’s going. Knowing the business fixer, he could be headed to a resort in need of rebranding. He might be off to help a B&B get its books in order. He may be going to Long Island’s Forbes Travel Guide Recommended The Garden City Hotel to co-host the podcast Checking In with Anthony and Glenn with industry insider Glenn Haussman.
With his hectic schedule, who can keep up? All we know for sure is that Melchiorri will be at the Four-Star Beverly Hilton on February 27 to lead a panel discussion at Verified, The Forbes Travel Guide Luxury Summit.
We recently sat down with the dynamic voice to talk podcasts, the moment he knew he wanted to work in hotels and the keys to being a successful innkeeper.
Where did your love of hospitality come from?
The love came out of a need, the need to belong and the need to find my way. Most people want to be cops or firemen or dentists or whatever. And the way I grew up, poor…well, I shouldn’t say poor. I grew up without a father, and my mother did whatever she could to put food on the table. And so, you never knew where the money was coming from, but there was always enough food, there were always clean clothes and a nice apartment and all that stuff, but it was always a struggle.
Whereas other people had guidance, I didn’t really have guidance. My mother was always too busy trying to, you know, put food on the table and, as she would say, “Make Christmas happen.”
So, after I came out of the Air Force, I went into the hotel business just because my mother’s friend had a little hotel in Florida. I said, “I guess I want to go into the hotel business.” But [that was] just because I had nothing else that I thought I could do or wanted to do. So, my love for the business came when I realized that, one, I could make an impact really quickly.
Two, I was always different. If I did a Predictive Index, it would have told me to be a hotel manager. As a matter of fact, my daughter did one to figure out what she wants to do in college, and the two top things came out was, one, that she should be an athletic trainer and, two, that she should be a hotel manager, which I found interesting.
I’m not the kind of guy who can sit in the same area, the same desk and do the same thing. It’d drive me nuts. So, with food and beverage and marketing and crisis management and housekeeping [it makes sense]. I just can’t imagine what else I would do — besides race cars for a living.
Didn’t a little girl at The Plaza Hotel have something to do with your calling, too?
Really, that cemented it. That’s the moment I realized I fell in love with the hotel business. I was the night manager and director of operations at that point. And this young lady…I was in my black tuxedo. At the time, everybody — all the managers — wore tuxedos. She’s going around the revolving doors. She basically falls into the 59th Street lobby, where the front desk is, and she points at me with her finger, like a shotgun in somebody’s chest, and she said, “Mister, where’s Eloise?”
Eloise, a fictional character that had a movie and books have been made about, lived at The Plaza Hotel. She would do all sorts of pranks on the employees that worked there. And [this little girl] wanted to know where Eloise was.
So, I went in the back and asked Randee Glick, the VIP manager, if we had an Eloise tour. She said, “No, but we’ll make one.” So, we came up with a tour for the young lady and we eventually did it for everyone that wanted it and we made money from it. We made money for the hotel and we made dreams come true for our guests.
But I realized at that point who my guest was. My guest was a little girl. And I had to make her dreams come true. And I was like, this girl gets on a plane and she’s thinking all day about Eloise, all week about Eloise. She was doing well on a test. She is doing everything she could do so that her mother and father would bring her to New York to meet Eloise. My job was to facilitate it.
There are a lot of times you work at a hotel and that magical moment you can make happen [but] you don’t. You walk away from it. The employee walks away from it. The manager walks away from it. And that’s a shame. At that moment, I realized you never walk away from those moments.
That’s something I notice when I watch Hotel Impossible — a lot of places don’t seem to know their clients. When you think back, what are a few characteristics that you saw in the failed properties?
Communication with their ownership and their leadership, and the “why we do what we do.” It was more about saving money. People were frustrated. They had the wrong mindset. I’m always of the mindset that if something bad happens — you know, a guest screws up the room — good. It gives an opportunity to, maybe, get new furniture. Somebody calls in sick? Okay, good. That means I may have to work the desk today, so I’ll get closer to my employees and really see what’s happening.
So, you have to that good mindset, that whatever happens, good, it happens. We have an emergency? Good, now we know our emergency procedures work.
Employees are never taught that mindset. They’re never told that story about that little girl that just wants to meet Eloise. It’s why we do what we do.
People say to me, well, the reason I want to be in the hotel business is because I like people. Well, that’s a bad reason. I don’t like people. I want to take care of people. That’s different. That doesn’t mean I want to hang out with everybody. I don’t go to bars. I’m not that guy. I’m not a small-talk guy. I’m not a socialite. It’s not who I am. I love people, but I don’t always like people.
But I still love facilitating their needs. And I like the transactional nature of it, where I make your stay fantastic and I make you comfortable and you remember me. I was part of that.
I just came from Starbucks. I don’t drink coffee, but I always get this little protein box in the morning. The young lady was nice. She was apologetic that my regular protein box wasn’t available. And she made me smile. She made me happy. It was a 10-second interaction. She was alert. She was awake. She didn’t look like she was miserable and somebody dragged her to work in the morning.
Those little moments make a difference. Five-Star hotels are not about the chandeliers and the amenities. Five-Star hotels are about the impossible, taking a few minutes and getting it done. You have to want to really do that.
Fans who miss seeing you on TV can find you on podcasts. Tell me about them.
I have two podcasts. I have Extraordinary. We are interviewing very just ordinary people who do extra [things]. I believe in people that are ordinary that do extra because “extraordinary” isolates people. People feel like extraordinary [means being] born as Superman or Wonder Woman, and I don’t believe that.
If anybody looks at my career and say, “Hey, this guy’s done something,” whether I have or I haven’t, it’s for someone else to say. It’s just there’re no superpowers involved. It’s just paying attention and being appreciate of what you have.
And then there is Checking In with Anthony and Glenn. Glenn being Glenn Haussman, who is a writer for the hospitality industry and he moderates a lot of panels for a lot of the big brands. He and I just talk about hotel stuff. Sometimes we have guests. Matter of fact, we’re going to be doing our podcast from Forbes [Travel Guide’s Verified] out in Beverly Hills in a couple weeks.
We just talk about hotel-related stuff. The good thing about our podcast: I can really say anything I want. I’m not bound by a brand where I have to watch what I say. I’m respectful of our industry, but I’ll say the hard things I need to say.
That’s where people can find me. And there is another show that I’m actually producing that’s coming out soon. I can’t announce it yet, but I will soon. And we’re working on several other shows, so I’m keeping busy.
How do you relax?
Well, I go to the gym. It’s really, really important to my mental health, more than my physical health. The gym, I’ve learned, is critical to me staying positive.
Number two, every moment of every day I’m looking for enjoyment and fun, and I stay away from things that I don’t want to do.
Me and Glenn had this conversation on a podcast and he said, “Some things you have to do.” And I said, “Yeah, some things I have to do.” Like, right now, I have a meeting at 11 and I have to go to the bank. So, those two things I have to do. But I’ll make it fun. Maybe I’ll stop and have a little breakfast. Maybe I’ll call my partner and she’ll make me laugh. I try not to take myself too seriously.