Episode 117

Training for your Front Line WorkersPhil Bruno

About Our Guest

Phil Bruno

Phil Bruno, President of Treat Em' Right, joins this episode of the Destination Marketing Podcast to talk about how his company is helping DMO's and stakeholders learn the importance of delivering on your brand's promise. Listen to learn ways to improve your customer's experience, as well as how the Treat Em' Right process is helping front line tourism workers across the country.

"To me, service is the things we do and hospitality is the way we make people feel as we do those things. I think it's a big mistake to believe that guest expectations have lowered and therefore we could lower our level of hospitality." -Phil Bruno

Episode Highlights

  • Name: Adam Stoker
  • Position: Co-founder and CEO of Relic
  • Favorite Destination: Fiji
  • Dream Destination: New Zealand
  • Name: Phil Bruno
  • Position: President - Treat‘em Right
  • Favorite Destination: Jupiter, Florida
  • Dream Destination: Bel Monte, Sicily

“Training for Your Front Line Workers” – Show Notes and Highlights

 

Show Highlights:

  • Treat ’em Right is building skills for frontline DMOs to educate their hospitality community.
  • Philip teaches frontline workers the brand promise. Bring more education and helping people learn and build skills and become more valuable to the industry. 
  • Phil gives trainings called Hope At Home to unemployed frontline workers during the COVID pandemic for free. 
  • Hope At Home brings all kinds of management developmental skills, practical, down-to-earth things that happen every day. 
  • Phil believes that there is a need for educational courses and programs during the pandemic especially for those who are highly affected by the crisis. 
  • Phil has helped 50,000 people in his free courses which he marketed through different Facebook groups. 
  • Phil points out that DMOs need to find a way to look inward to the communities for support, that it’s important to build relationships with stakeholders so that they can support you when hard times hit.

 

Resources Mentioned in the Podcast:

Episode Transcript

Phil Bruno: [00:00:00] To me, service is one thing. Service is the things we do. Hospitality is the way we make people feel as we do those things. I think it’s a big mistake to believe that guest expectations have lowered. Therefore, we could lower our level of hospitality. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:00:19] Hello, everyone. And welcome to another episode of the Destination Marketing Podcast. I’m your host, Adam Stoker, and we’ve got a great show for you today. He’s part of our 2021 lineup, which we’ve got a great lineup for this year already scheduled. His name is Phil Bruno, and Phil is the President of Treat‘em Right, Phil, welcome to the show. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:00:39] Glad to be here. I appreciate the opportunity to at least share a little bit about what I’ve done and what’s happened and where we’re going. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:00:48] Phil, you’ve been in the industry a long time. We’re going to talk a lot about your background today, and I think you’re going to have a lot of really valuable experiences to share with us. So I’m excited to dive in. But before we do, we’ve got a couple of ice breaker questions that we’d like to ask to let everybody get to know you a little bit, so we’ll start with those. So, Phil, if you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:01:12] I’ve been there. I actually have always in my whole life wanted to go to the ancestral home of my Italian family in a little town called Bel Monte, Sicily. And four years ago, my wife and one of my sons and his wife went there. We went to Sicily. We also did other parts of Italy. We did France and Germany in a two-week sprawl. It was fantastic. I actually got to go to the Town Square where all my relatives were gathered  at one point when my father was over there in World War II, they all took one big picture together. And I think there were 30 guys, all named Giovanni, that we’re all related to. And I stood there and that was fun. Went into church there, went to Catholic mass. I think I was the tallest person there. And I’m only 5’10. 

 

Went to visit, it was a Sunday, so there wasn’t a whole lot open, but there’s always online betting open there and you hang out with the guys who were in there placing bets and taking bets, which is a certain type of group that’s still there in Sicily. We hung out with those guys, had a few beers and then found a small family-owned restaurant and ate there. And it was phenomenal. They opened up for us a little early and they cooked incredible food in Italy. 

 

So I’ve already been there. So I’m looking for other places to go. Not necessarily internationally anymore. But, within this country as well. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:02:43] Phil, I’m hoping to someday have the reputation that you have that I can get restaurants to open early for me and make those types of changes in other countries even. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:02:52] Yeah, it happened a couple of times when we were over there. I have a little bit of a restaurant background when I was much younger. And, once you know how to  talk to folks in the industry, they’ll recognize that you are from that industry and then they’ll open up to you a whole lot easier. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:03:11] How cool. It sounds like an amazing trip. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have kind of taken a genealogical focus for why they’ve decided to take a trip and kind of go back to where their ancestors are from. And I’ve got two questions on this one is that it’s got to be surreal to stand in the places where your ancestor stood and I’d love to hear a little bit about that. But then, there had been a lot of planning going into this trip. This isn’t like the type of trip you take on a whim, right? So I’d love to hear a little bit about the planning process. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:03:46] Oh, the planning was done by my daughter-in-law who is phenomenal at that sort of thing. She’s in the accounting end of industries and very detail-oriented. I mean, she had us on trains, the planes, the end of Milan, out of Florence and back to Florence and out. It was tremendous. She did everything as far as the planning was concerned. Even down to daily activities. So it was great. We all loved everything that she did. And I had one day to do what I wanted to do, you know? So I was like we’re just going to leave it open and see what happens. I’m going to wake up and kind of figure out where we want to go and what we want to do, things I’ve already seen and I forget which town it was. But it was more freelance ad let’s just go see what happens. And we found some great places that sold unique cheeses right next to a guy that sells unique meats. And it was one of those kind of charcuterie and cheese and wine, all of these really old kinds of almost ancient stores. And that was fun for me. I’m or of the let’s just see what happens kind of person. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:04:57] I like it. So you’ll plan like the big pieces of the trip. But you’re not building a detailed itinerary day by day. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:05:05] Not necessary unless it’s somewhere where you have to be to get on the bus that’s going to take you out to the Tuscany Winery. That’s important. No, you can’t miss that. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:05:15] Well, that’s a great answer. And you’re one of the few people I know that have had the opportunity to go on your dream vacation. How about outside of that trip? What’s your favorite trip you’ve ever been on? 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:05:29] I have to say I still have very important family roots, and we like to go to, believe it or not, beach destination and tie end sports at the same time. I’m from St. Louis and it’s a big baseball town. So the St. Louis Cardinals are huge. They’ve got 11 World Series rings and we follow them to spring training from time to time, which is in Jupiter, Florida. So we get a place on Singer Island in Palm Beach, and there are pools there for the kids. And if you want to get in the ocean, that’s there too, of course, and then 20 minutes away is the ballpark so and restaurants in between and other things to do, and now they built a second ballpark in that area. So we’ll catch a game and in a much looser environment and then the full-blown major league park. Players are closer, there are new guys to look at, the Hall of Famers  are there, old coaches are there, and they’re just wandering around like regular people. So we just love that experience. 

 

We take the grandkids with us. I’ve got four now, and everybody goes. We all stay in one big place. Or sometimes we get a condo on the beach. Or sometimes we get a house on the beach, and those are our favorite things. We’ve done that several times. And yesterday they just said that baseball is back. So we’ll see what happens. I’m waiting to see if they allow fans to show up. And if the spring training opportunities are there again. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:07:00] Yeah, you know, that’s been one of the hardest parts of COVID is I’ve been an avid sports traveler and that I like to follow some of my favorite teams when I can and build a trip around it and that was not an option this past year. And so it’ll be nice to get back into some of that stuff. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:07:18] Oh, yeah, I’m looking forward to it and yeah I just can’t wait to get back at it. It’s going to be great. It’s going to have been more of a, I think more of a sense of normalcy, coming back. Like the NHL just said that we could have actually saved money by not having a season this year. And the owners are losing money by putting this on, but we thought it was more important to actually make sure the brand sustained and that people had a sense of normalcy. So last night was the first NHL games out. So that was cool. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:07:52] Yeah. Well, interesting stuff. And I appreciate you answering those questions. Let us get to know you a little bit. History and sports are important to you. We’re learning and I’d love to now pivot a little bit and talk about Treat ’em Right. And what you do is an organization. And then I want to get a little bit into your background. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:08:12] Sure. with Treat ’em Right, what I’ve been doing is trying to build skills for people who work on the frontline of our industry. And to do that, I basically work with destination management organizations to educate their hospitality community. It’s come down to that, and I started doing it live here in St. Louis. I’ve been a member of our Convention and Visitors Commission here for 30 years now and over 30 years, and found out that there was a need for such a product and they came to me, they know me well. I’ve been doing training and all of the attractions that we’re here and found that they wanted something more of a larger community piece. And so I put something together for them. And from there just grew and we have 15 different cities that have been under contract for us for me to develop, custom training on hospitality skills and all the great things there are to do in town when they get – so they know. 

 

Also, the big part about it is teaching frontline workers what the brand promise is. What have these visitors been promised to get them to town? And now that they’re in front of you, guess who’s supposed to keep that promise, you. And if you don’t know it, how could you keep it? So I’ve been involved in doing that for oh I guess about 12 years now. Prior to that, it was all kinds of speaking and training and educating folks in the industry on all the things that are happening out there in other industries as well. Trying to bring more education and helping people learn and build skills and become more valuable to the industry honestly. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:10:05] Yeah. You know, Phil, I’ve talked to a lot of different destinations about this and about the frontline training that either does or doesn’t but always needs to happen. And a lot of destinations have felt kind of on their own, like, “Hey, we come up with this great brand,” and then these stakeholders or frontline workers don’t deliver on it, and they don’t understand that they’ve got to build that bridge through education. And so I love that your product does that. You’re able to help the frontline workers understand the brand promise of the destination and help deliver on it because as you said they are the ones that actually deliver on the promise that the destination management organization has worked so hard to create. 

 

I love that you do that. And one of the things that really caught my eye as you and I were talking about doing an episode together is that because of the pandemic, you’ve decided to help a lot of these unemployed frontline workers by giving them a portion of your training for free. Do you want to talk about that? 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:11:07] Sure. It’s called Hope At Home. Basically, I put together some training on doing a Zoom interview, talking about folks about their transferrable skills. I mean, there are so many people in our industry that are out of work, load, you know, in that transition period and a lot of them have been around for a while, 20… 25 years in the industry, and they’ve loved it. But maybe it’s time to look somewhere else. They can’t afford to not work. And the subsistence money that’s coming out is sketchy and sometimes here, and it depends on the state and all that sort of stuff. So it’s been hard for those folks and I thought all they needed some tools and maybe a little encouragement to look at other industries and or if not just now that you have time for yourself, make yourself more promotable. I call it upscaling. 

 

And while you while you have the time to go out and do it, I know you don’t have any money to pay for this. As a matter of fact, I’m creating new stuff, new training for them. I actually put a studio here in my own house, so it keeps my costs down rather than rent a studio and paying for actors to do my scripts. I’m writing scripts. I’m recording myself, and then putting it out there keeps the costs down. It’s still very professional. And I have all this content from years past when I worked in several different industries across the board. 

 

So I’ve always wanted to take the opportunity to bring all kinds of management development skills, practical, down to earth, things that actually happen every day. If you want to be a supervisor, if you want to be a manager, here are some things you need to start looking at and doing that for our industry because it hadn’t been done much at all. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:12:59] Yeah, I think that’s pretty admirable considering that everybody that’s in the tourism industry right now has struggled in some way, shape or form this year. And a lot of people, including me, looked internally and said, “Okay, what do we need to do to protect and help our business and in the process obviously looking at how to help other people as well?” And you said, “Okay, I’ve got to help a lot of these people that air that are unemployed.” What led you to create this program where you allow people to take these educational courses for free?

 

Phil Bruno: [00:13:31] The need. I was there once when I was a kid in high school started in the industry and as a bus boy at 15. Yeah, as a bus boy at 15. Pay my way through private high school and college and got my travel and tourism degree from St. Louis University, the good old Jesuit school. And during that time, I still worked in restaurants and was making really good money back when cash was cash and king back in the seventies, late seventies, and I still have friends from those days, and there’s some of them are still in the industry and half of them own their own restaurants by now. 

 

I’m still part of that community here where I live, and I still love that community. And when I engage with my customers with my clients out there different DMOs, I go into their community and I talked to those people in that community. So I know who these people are, I can really relate and identify with them, and I know how much they love what they do and how hurt and desperate they must feel right now. And it’s just so tough. we have friends here in my own hospitality community friends of mine who have had difficult health problems, and they just don’t have the money to pay for what they need to have done medically. So, I’ve always been a part of trying to raise funds for them and getting these different help. Something simple as chemotherapy for some of my friends as well. 

 

I’m in tune with what’s happening there and it just it just needed to be done. So that’s where I kind of come from and still am in a way. And so I just felt the need, and I’ve got the opportunity to bring something that they can use. And I think that’s important and for me during this period is very gratifying to watch people picking up this training. I check every day. I have my own learning platform that I’ve developed over the years where I can go in and check to see who’s taken what courses, taken what lessons, and how they did in quizzes and testing and all that sort of stuff. And that’s one of the first things I do every day. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:15:53] That’s actually what I wanted to get to Phil is I thought, oh yeah, cool. He’s giving away these courses for free. And then I looked at the numbers of people that have taken your course. We’re not talking 5, 10 people that you’ve helped. I mean, how many people gone through your courses that you’ve offered during this time?

 

Phil Bruno: [00:16:11] Almost 50,000 right now. It’s been great which just tells me yeah the need is there and I don’t think the word is out well enough yet. So it helps to try and spread the word and just to go out and in the different Facebook groups that are out there, where these folks are supporting one another. Hospitality, family, Facebook hospitality family is a huge group to go into. It’s a lot of folks who are in the hotel industry and there aren’t many national restaurant ones. But I’ve local ones that I go into and people are stating what’s on their mind, what’s going on and how hard it is and this and that. And I’ll pop in my link and say, “Hey, listen, maybe this is something you would want to try,” and mostly that’s been it. Otherwise I post the link on other social media sites, and I’ll notice the numbers get bumped up a little bit. But it doesn’t last long, so you have to kind of keep doing that, and I’m committed to it. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:17:13] Yeah, I don’t know, Phil. I don’t know how many people can say I’ve helped 50,000 frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic. I mean, you’ve got to be  a very in a unique position to have been able to help. And I want to talk more about what you’re doing and your background, but first we’re going to take a quick break. 

 

Today’s episode is brought to you By Relic. As many of you know, I own an advertising agency called Relic, and we worked specifically with tourism destinations. If there’s any of you that are struggling with what to do next or you tried agencies that don’t specialize in tourism or if you’ve been using the local flavor for years and years and you’re just looking for something new, I would say give us a call. Give us the opportunity to take a look at your plan, see what you’re doing. Use our tourism knowledge and industry specialty to examine everything from your brand to your tactical execution and make recommendations of how to help. We’ll do that assessment for free. We’ll give you those recommendations for free. 

 

If you like what we say, maybe you can hire us to execute on those plans so kind of a risk-free opportunity to have us take a holistic look at everything you’re doing, provide some recommendations and you kind of see us in action. If you’re interested in having us do something like that, please send me an email directly at adam@relicagency.com. I would love to set that up with my team. 

 

[00:18:47] So everyone we’re talking with Phil Bruno and he is the president of Treat ’em Right and he’s created a platform of education for frontline workers especially on how to give adequate service and deliver on the brand promise for a destination. In addition to that, we were just talking before the break about how Phil has helped over 50,000 frontline workers with free education for them to be able to upscale and to get into new employment, especially those that have been laid off. 

 

So first of all destinations that want to help the frontline workers within their destination and give them access to this free education. Phil, where do they go? 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:19:32] Well, the link is etube.treatemright.com/hopeathome. So Treat ‘em Right is T-R-E-A-T-E-M R-I-G-H-T dot com backslash hopeathome, all one word and it’s right there. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:19:52] Perfect. Okay, thanks for sharing that with us Phil and I would encourage anybody that’s listening. If you know a frontline worker that’s in a difficult position or is looking for opportunities, set him through that training. There’s nothing that helps you get more employment than getting more qualified for employment and feels offering that. And if 50,000 people have already taken advantage of it, it must be a good program. So great stuff. And Phil, I want to dive into you’ve alluded to your background a few times. You’ve obviously you’re not a rookie in the industry by any means and you’ve been doing this for a long time, and I think that perspective of having been through some of the big crises that have hit the industry and things like that. Probably helps you look at this pandemic a little bit different, because I would argue that most of the people working in our industry right now, this is their first major crisis, they came in post-2008 didn’t see that first crash in the industry. And so this is such a new and wild thing for them. Give us a little bit of what you’ve seen over the years and maybe what you’ve learned by being in the industry as long as you have.  

 

Phil Bruno: [00:21:04] Well, a lot of people, of course, remember 9/11. That was another one that shocked and really sent ripples through our industry for a short period. But I  tend to say I learned from that and others before that even that we are on the bleeding edge of whatever happens socially and economically. Were based on expendable income in many cases, except for business travel. People don’t by group tours unless they have the expendable income. Families don’t take vacation unless they have the expendable income. Business travels still happens, but not always. It’s not happening right now, and it didn’t happen after 9/11 right away. 

 

So it’s been something where were also the first ones back, by the way, if you notice because we certainly do have learned that pent up demand is there. We know it’s there now and you know, we need to basically, let’s retool. Let’s take advantage of this time now it’s a hard time, and some of what I’ve listened in your podcasts you’re saying the same thing. Let’s look at our content. Let’s look at who we are and what we’re saying and doesn’t cost any money or very little money to do something like that. You’re not buy at edge. You’re not spending money right now. Nobody really is. But you can certainly take a look at what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. 

 

I believe that one of the things that I’m involved in and I’m proud to be involved in is working with Destinations International on the Advocacy Committee and where we’re learning and helping other DMOs is to use the language of the communities now as opposed to our old jargon and us talking to ourselves in our industry that has to go away and from destination marketing organizations who were completely looking out of the community to draw others in, now we have to look out and in to the community to embrace those people because another main thing we’ve learned over time is that nobody’s there when we need them, because we haven’t been there for them when these crisis happened. So it’s time to start being there for them. It’s time to actually as branding has changed is we go in and we get in and we find out who we really are as a community and what we’re what our value is to a visitor and what we have to offer and then building the brand from there. It’s fantastic. That’s awesome, and that’s already happening. 

 

And now it’s just a little bit more than that. It’s just getting into the community more. There’s some great examples out there. Some great case studies and people are doing it, and I’m proud to be a part of that. So if there’s any lessons to be learned, it’s time to look inward to our communities for support. We can’t keep doing this model for funding that we have based upon hotel room sales and tax on top of that. We’ve got to find a way to spread that pace, which is going to beat from the community, no doubt. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:24:14] Yeah. Phil, you and I are aligned on a lot of the things that that you just said. Going back to the idea of well what do you do when you’re not spending money? You definitely don’t sit on your laurels, right? You take action on a lot of the things that you haven’t had time to get to because things are so hectic when you’re in a 10-year period of growth, right? But now is the time to be building for the future. 

 

And then the other thing that you that you mentioned that I really believe in wholeheartedly is the idea that you need to build relationships during good times with the stakeholders in your community so that they can be there for you when the hard times hit. And if you don’t do that work up front, then you’re kind of left hanging out to dry when something like this pandemic hits. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:24:57] Happen time and time again, it’s time to learn. It’s time for action on that instead of just taking the blows and hoping we get through it and being glad that we’re still employed by governmental or quasi-governmental areas so that we’re still supported. We have to think more — I hate to say it like for-profits. We’re not in the for-profit business but you know what? Our partners are. So often our partners are, that’s very important. When we look internally, we’re getting closer. Tourism is the first date for economic development. We have to start outlining ourselves more with it. An economic development, getting some credit for that, too. People, particularly younger generations now if they like a town and they actually consider moving there, which is phenomenal. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:25:54] And finally have the ability to with all the remote work that’s going on. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:26:00] I sure do. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:26:02] I mean the remote working capabilities exist in the way that they never have before. So, I mean, the first date might actually lead to something you know more than ever before. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:26:14] Right, depending upon their experience. Was the promise kept? What drew him there? Was it true? Was it better than ever expected? Did it exceed their expectations? Do we know that? Have we checked it? And what are we doing with that data that we get back from that? Those are the things that we need to get smarter about. Some people have and really to their credit, they’re going to do very well coming out of this. And I’m proud that some people have in this industry figured that out, and it’s not easy to convert from destination marketing to destination management. It’s a different skill set and there are different expectations, and you just can’t expect your community to accept you as a leader. I find that in my dealings with DMOs and education, we’re going to offer with my product it’s an education product for folks in the community, whether they’re in the industry or not. Quite honestly, I’ve got programs that are being run at the Nordstrom store, in Spokane and also programs that are being run at a women’s prison in New York, upper upstate New York. 

 

Yeah, right. So they’re not in the industry, really. So Nordstrom, you could say is because, if you’re Nordy, you go to the Nordstrom store wherever you are just to see what it’s like. But that GM was smart enough to know that, and they don’t need help on skills for hospitality. They’re generally all wonderful, but they needed help on destination awareness. And that’s what the skill was there. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:28:03] Even Phil, people that are not in the industry per se well they might absolutely be a touch point along the way for a traveler that comes to the destination. So, like you say, Nordstrom doesn’t seem like a traditional client for you. Right? But when you really look at it oh they’re absolutely interacting with travelers? 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:28:24] Absolutely. City workers, guys that are working out there on the street, literally on the street have taken our courses. Yeah, it depends upon how enlightened the community really is. And what they see is value. And quite frankly, like I was saying, the leadership of the DMO, how connected they are to become all of a sudden they’re saying, “Hey, we’re in authority on educating people. We’re in authority. We’re going to make everybody better. We’re going to do everything better.” Well, who are you? Where did you come from? All you’ve ever been doing is buying ads and spending this money over these years. 

 

So it’s going to take time. You can’t just immediately expect people to buy in to  something that you’re pitching without history. So going to take some time, and it definitely is going to take some different type of skills. And I’m proud to be associated with the number of people who do that already. It’s cool. Very cool. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:29:23] Well, Phil, tell us how you got into the tourism industry. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:29:25] Well, I was raised in what you’d call a Little Italy here in St. Louis. Right now, it’s the last Little Italy in the country called The Hill. And my father and his father were house painters. They own a little house painting business. We run around painting people’s houses and inside and out. And I did it in the summers, sometime in the day before I was legal. I was out there making a quarter an hour, setting up ladders and stuff and then eventually somewhere in high school, I guess it was 15 or so, friends of my dad and my uncle were pharmacists on their own the neighborhood pharmacy on The Hill. And they decided they were going to follow their dream and open a restaurant with all of their mama’s recipes. 

 

And they did, and I couldn’t wait. And I went into that restaurant, got a job as a bus boy, opening night back in 1975, I think. And I just got hooked on being at the party. Just being there and having a great time. That place took off like wildfire was the first time anybody done something with this particular type of food in our community and God, it was fun. And I learned that the harder you worked and the more you made people feel good, the more money you made and it was immediate. It was in your pocket when you left when I walked home. 

 

I’m spending it on a pizza across the street at a pizza place where the old man through it threw it in the window and took it home and eat it. Or ate it or [00:31:02]. And so that was the crux of it all. And after time, I stayed in that industry like I said I paid through private high school and college that way. And while I was in college, my college was tourism and hospitality, travel and have my degree. People came to our campus to look for people who wanted jobs in the industry. And so I got a lot of fun jobs on I was a step on guide for bus tours of the city. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:31:36] Oh. Wow. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:31:37] It was so much fun. This particular tour operators specialized in high school senior trips to St. Louis and high school bands. So who comes to St. Louis for a high school senior trip would be kids from the country, kids who didn’t even have a stoplight in their town and stuff. And they worked hard and earned money sometimes by catching chickens and doing all kinds of crazy things in their own communities. So, I felt like I really wanted to make sure they had a great time in here in St. Louis. And we’d always do the typical things would go to the arts, and we take a riverboat ride, and they’d all go to Six Flags. But I always come up with some something fun, crazy, wild. One of the best memories I have is taking some kids from a rural town in Tennessee to an Alice Cooper concert. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:32:26] That’s memorable. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:32:27] Oh, yeah. It was so much fun. And I had friends inside who we’re ushers in the concert and come by and talk to the kids and we just made it fun for these kids and hopefully made them lifetime experience for them. I mean, so, that was part of the fun. I mean, I fell in love with the industry, the bigger part of the industry as well. Also got some great internships working at the airport doing VIP arrivals. I got to make presidents and famous celebrities and all that sort of stuff. And I also got to learn how an airport really worked. I worked in each department. I also worked at Merits Incentive Travel here in St. Louis, they were number one in the country for incentive travel. In other words, I’d be putting together binders for people that were going on cruises that Merits put together for incentive programs for the top Cadillac dealerships in the country. Stuff like that. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:33:20] Very cool. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:33:22] Yes, so always looking for jobs in the industry. I want to be the guy who upon graduation was had had definite leg up on employment. So now the job I got one summer was being a tour guide at the Anheuser Busch Brewery here in St. Louis, which was a big deal because they’re sought after to be the best employer and great history here, and generations of people within the same family had worked there from the 1900’s, actually. So it was a great opportunity for me. I got in there. I learned the 18-page script. We walked people through the brewery. We did all kinds of stuff, gave them free beer, had a gift shop, and all that. Got very involved with that and believe it or not upon graduation they offered me a job. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:34:05] Nice. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:34:06] So I took the job. I was married at the time. That was another thing I wanted to do to get ready to go was be a package to move, and we moved to Jacksonville, Florida, and I was working there in the hospitality room. The brewery tours, the gift shop. We would host not only people coming through every day, but we would also host events at night for community groups like the Jacksonville Shark Fishing Club or the Association of Society of Mechanical Engineers. They’d have their meeting. We give them a tour, they have something to eat, have some beers and hang out. 

 

And I also got to speak its podium there, which was awesome. So I enjoyed all of that and got promoted up in that system from one place to another of Merrimack, New Hampshire, where we had Clydesdales in the fields and tournament soccer park and just phenomenal facilities. It was a world-class experience, and we offered world-class experiences for our guests. And then finally back here St. Louis to the corporate headquarters where that the original experience was that I worked in college. So I did that for a number of years. And then I got called out to the Busch family estate where they had been offering a free experience tour of the family estate, which was a huge animal park that collected herds of exotic animals from all over the world. 

 

So I actually took a ride through Deer Park and saw the different animals. And it was the original Busch Gardens if you can think about it. It’s been open for over 50 years now. So I was there and made several changes. I kind of became known as the guy, the fixer, who would go into places and upgrade them and do a lot of work as far as bringing them up to the task, exceeding guest expectations, finding out what people really wanted and then giving it to them, then using my teams to learn more about how to get that done well. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:36:05] I love it. I love it. And Phil, unfortunately, with time were kind of coming up against. I’ve got two really important questions I want to ask you, and so it’s obvious why you should be the one educating the frontline group that’s interacting with travelers. You’ve got a wealth of experience and knowledge, and I think I’m excited to check out your courses myself. Two important questions, one is and let’s keep them a little bit short, so we stay on time. But one is, what mistakes are you seeing out there that need to be solved now? 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:36:40] Oh, well, because we’re wearing masks. Some folks in the industry feel that they couldn’t relax as far as the sense of hospitality that they are creating. Now, to me, service is one thing. Service is the things we do. Hospitality is the way we make people feel as we do those things. I think it’s a big mistake to believe that guest expectations have lowered. Therefore, we could lower our level of hospitality. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:37:15] And it’s a trap, isn’t it? 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:37:17] Oh, It’s a trap. It’s not only a trap, but it’s going to be tough to break out off. It’s a bad habit, and I’ve seen it and it’s tough to do. I mean, it really is tough to keep that level of where you were happening now. You’ve got to work harder to do that. People don’t necessarily know how to work harder to do that. So that’s one thing I’ve seen. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:37:38] Thank you. And I think that’s an important thing to call out, because with us all wearing masks, even something as simple as a smile it might feel are unnecessary because you’re wearing a mask. But people see it. People can see smiling behind that mask. So actually that’s a great point. Give me your most important piece of advice that you can give a destination that’s trying to get through the times of today. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:38:02] Connect with the community right now, there’s so much need. There are some great examples out there of DMOs who’ve turned inward. It’s time to turn inward. I know we’re all freaking out about nobody coming, and we can’t do anything about that. Do what you can with what you can right now, and it’s connected where find out how you can help other people right now. Some DMOs are actually picking up some work from the cities of just administrative work to do that the city can’t do right now either so and getting paid for it. That’s a good thing. You know? 

 

Employing your people, doing outside work, which is phenomenal. That’s great. And getting on boards and meetings and doing the Zoom meetings in the community that are happening, they’re going to learn about you, and you need to learn more about them. And now is the time to do that. Connect, get out there, don’t forget your hospitality community. I mean, there’s a lot of need there, and I’m just one guy out there trying to help folks in. But if we all turned inward and found  a way to connect to those people through our partners, really, because those the partners that did employ these people, it’s going to be better. I mean, it’s going to be good. It’ll build your credibility. It’ll show some leadership. Now is the real-time to get in that community and prove your worth to the community quite honestly. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:39:32] Yeah, great advice. Phil, It’s been a lot of fun to have you on. How can people get ahold of you if they want to learn more about what you do. 

 

Phil Bruno: [00:39:39] If you want to learn more you could go to treatemright.com. I’m phil@treatemright.com and  if you want to have some fun just going out to my YouTube channel, philbruno1.com and you can see some of the some of the work I’ve done for different cities. And maybe the McKeno or two is hanging out there. There are over 100 different recordings that you could see just for fun. And I hope you get something out of it. And if we don’t work together, then I hope oh, we shed some light on some areas that can help you and others in the community all the way down to the frontline workers. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:40:22] Well, thanks so much, Phil. It’s great to have you. Everybody go check Phil out at treatemright.com and the other places that he mentioned. And other than that, thanks to everybody for listening and we’ll see you next week.