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Hotel industry CEO finds creative ways to cope during tough times

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Like every other industry, hospitality has taken a hit in this economy.

Just ask Tim Stripe, the co-CEO of Grand Pacific Resorts based out of Carlsbad.

Stripe spoke to students attending California State University, San Marcos’ "In the Executive’s Chair" class Tuesday about how his resort and timeshare company has been surviving the economic storm.

“We still have a long way to go, but it’s not still as far as it would have been, say, one year ago,” he said.

Over the past year, Grand Pacific Resorts has had to lay off some of its employees or cut back on hours.

However, Stripe said the company has tried to make the cuts minimal since he views them as affecting 1,100 “families,” rather than just his employees.

One of the changes Grand Pacific Resorts has made is that it began to cross-train employees.

For example, one of the company’s earliest cross-training programs was between employees working at the front desk, concierge’s counter and the valets.

While the strategy was originally to cut costs, Stripe said it has improved customer service and made it more personal.

For example, a businessperson who has to leave the hotel early in the morning and get to a meeting could check out and have the same employee deliver their car.

Stripe said he was worried about employee backlash over cross-training efforts, but was surprised that many employees didn’t seem to mind.

He said most of his employees understood the company is facing challenging times and were willing to take on the extra tasks. Some, he said, saw it as a way to break up their work days.

The cross-training program is working so well that the company plans to keep it in place even when the economy has fully recovered.

Even in the downturn, Stripe said Grand Pacific Resorts is planning for the future.

Though it has made cuts, the one department it has expanded is in marketing and sales.

“We want to be the first in the marketplace to take advantage of consumers coming back,” he said.

Stripe said he is looking at ways to innovate to see his company through the rest of the recession and is optimistic due to consumers slowly trickling back into the market.

“A lot of times, when you think you’ve hit a bump in the road, it’s about trying not to dwell on that, but think of what the future could be,” he said.

* Related video: Interview with Tim Stripe

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