As the general manager of the Hampton Inn & Suites, Mark Laughlin says there are just four things he expects from his staff.
The hotel must be clean. The guests need to be safe. The employees should be kind and welcoming, and they also must be having fun.
“It’s important to have the right attitude, so we need to be kind and welcoming, of course,” says Laughlin. “But I really want our employees to enjoy a fun, positive environment so they want to come to work. Guests can sense when they’re dealing with people who love their job.”
The Hampton Inn & Suites opened on June 24 of last year, and Laughlin says it’s hard to believe the Millbrook hotel is about to celebrate a full year in business. He says not everyone’s familiar with the Hampton by Hilton™ brand, but it’s designed to be friendly and lighthearted.
“It’s sort of like a WestJet style where we believe in having fun,” explains Laughlin. “It’s not a stuffy hotel by any means. It’s welcoming and tastefully decorated, and the focus is on comfort.”
Their clientele seems to change a lot depending on the season, as staffers welcome a mix of business people, families, and sports teams. Over the holidays, many families rent hotel rooms for out-of-town relatives so everyone has their own space.
During March Break, Laughlin says they partnered with the RECC to promote swim and climbing schedules in exchange for discounts for their guests. The hotel also organized discounts for their guests at the nearby Boston Pizza on Robie Street.
“We like to form solid relationships with other local businesses where we can promote each other,” says Laughlin. “It’s a good way to cut down on marketing costs and share expenses.”
There aren’t too many hotels in the area, so Laughlin says there’s sometimes a bit of rate competition. But their focus is to stand out by providing clean, safe facilities with friendly, welcoming staff.
While other hotels fight to hold wedding receptions or other large functions, Laughlin says the Hampton Inn & Suites isn’t interested in attracting those kind of events. They have 1,800 sq. ft. of meeting space between their five banquet rooms, and they’re specializing in small meetings.
“We have spaces that are good for four or five people or up to 50 or 75 people, so that’s where we want to be — a place that’s great for small meetings,” says Laughlin. “We’re really not interested in trying to be anything that we’re not.”
Since Truro really is the hub of Nova Scotia, Laughlin says it’s “a good central place for everybody to meet” — whether you’re coming from Halifax, Cape Breton, Annapolis Valley, or New Brunswick.
He says the hotel also has a strategy for bringing in local guests who live just five or 10 minutes away.
“We try to stay really active on social media and get the local market involved by asking them what they’re doing for the weekend or for March Break,” says Laughlin. “We invite them to answer questions or submit pictures for the chance to win a free weekend with us.”
The hotel hosts a lot of sports teams during the school year, and now its employees are gearing up for summer. Laughlin says they’ll start seeing more tourists and they’re expecting a good year with staycations and people coming up from the States.
This summer they’re hoping to encourage tourists to set up a home base in Truro — “the heart of Nova Scotia” — for a few days while they check out different parts of the province.
“The idea is that when you’re here, you’re halfway to your destination for tomorrow,” says Laughlin. “Go to the Valley today through Burnt Coat, go to Halifax tomorrow through Musquodoboit Harbour and Lawrencetown, go to Pictou up the Sunrise Trail and see a few breweries on the way.”
“We’re always encouraging our guests to get off the beaten track and extend the length of their overall stay.”
Hampton Inn & Suites is located at 35 Legends Dr. in Millbrook. For more information, call (902) 843-4343 or visit hamptoninntruro.com.