Case Studies

Trey Poe – IGO Legacy Hotel Group

Ensuring hotel guests’ expectations are met—and exceeded

While many children spend their free time playing with toys or video games, Trey Poe did things differently while growing up in New Mexico.

His father, Lewis Poe, is a retired electrical engineer who used to take him on jobs when he was a kid.

“We went everywhere from a burned-down fast-food restaurant to a medium-security prison,” Poe says. “I would rather have been playing with my friends, but I learned a lot about mechanical systems and what could happen by not following building codes.”

Trey Poe | Director of Facilities | IGO Legacy Hotel Group

Trey Poe | Director of Facilities | IGO Legacy Hotel Group

For over two decades, Poe has put all that knowledge to use, with the past nine years spent as director of facilities for IGO Legacy Hotel Group in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin.

“We have 12 properties in our portfolio, and with the difference in seasons in the Upper Midwest, we have to be prepared for everything,” he says.

Being prepared includes training staff members on the front lines of ensuring quality customer service. However, having trained staff and plans can only go so far in the hospitality industry.

“We have to get results, and we have to make the improvements across the portfolio that will lead to more guests coming back to our properties,” Poe says. “We also need to continue to recruit and retain skilled employees that want to be a part of our culture and brand.”

Improving the guest experience

Times change, but guest demands and expectations remain straightforward. Guests expect a clean, safe, friendly, modern and aesthetically pleasing hotel and room with an easy booking and check-in experience. If a property can provide those things, it will be successful, but Poe says if just one of those links in the chain is broken, everything suffers.

IGO Legacy Hotel Group’s portfolio includes branded hotels like Comfort Inn, AmericInn, Country Inn & Suites and Radisson. Ensuring the same look throughout the portfolio is crucial, Poe says.

“The same branded hotel in Green Bay should look the same and have the same feel as its sister property in Minneapolis,” he notes. “I travel a lot and appreciate the consistency; I know our guests do, too.”

Trey Poe | Director of Facilities | IGO Legacy Hotel Group

Making each property better for guests and staff has been an important part of Poe’s tenure with IGO Legacy. Among the projects he’s most proud of was installing carbon monoxide detectors in every guest room, work area, mechanical space and public area. There was some pushback from personnel, but everybody agreed it was the correct decision.

“We can’t control what people bring into their guestrooms, but we can control putting in measures that give us a chance to create the safest environment possible,” he says.

The company recently installed an elevator at a 24-year-old, two-story lodge-style hotel in Proctor, Minnesota. There was no elevator, and installing it was challenging because of strained supply chains and outside help proving hard to find. Overall, it took 18 months of planning, finding the right partners and constructing the lift. IGO Legacy has two other properties that Poe hopes to bring elevator service to in 2024.

Meeting demands

Other projects in the portfolio include the recent conversion of standard rooms to extended stay rooms at the AmericInn in Menominee, Michigan, and the upgrading of card readers to a radio frequency identification system at the company’s property in River Falls, Wisconsin.

“When we do a project like this, we change all lockable doors across the property,” Poe says.

Staffing shortages and rising prices are two of the biggest challenges Poe is facing, and he’s trying to come up with creative ways to tackle the challenges without hotel operations suffering.

Trey Poe | Director of Facilities | IGO Legacy Hotel Group

The maintenance department could use more technicians so it wouldn’t need to rely on outside vendors, although it is sometimes necessary to keep an amenity, like a pool or fitness center, available.

He battles increased costs by prioritizing projects based on safety and guest and employee satisfaction and retention. That means that an air exchanger in a pool area gets approved over new carpeting—the air handler doesn’t have the same “wow” effect as upgraded flooring, but it is an important part of the facility, he says.

“We focus on the 80/20 rule of 80 percent preventative maintenance and 20 percent or less repair and replace,” Poe explains. “For a car, a $60 oil change is cheaper than buying a new engine. We use language like that that’s easy to understand and has the most impact.”

Building a career

Poe did not take the traditional route to his career in facilities. He didn’t go to college but spent nearly eight years in the U.S. Coast Guard as a deck hand and cook on buoy tenders and patrol boats. He says it was a crash course in being part of a workforce because the military is structured like a corporation. Poe learned to navigate between departments and watched how leaders led, which was an invaluable lesson as he progressed in his career.

“Leaders don’t get to have a bad day because people depend on you to drive the ship,” he says.

After leaving the Coast Guard, Poe worked for an electronic security company in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he helped install fire and burglar alarms, closed-circuit TVs, phone and data systems and more. That experience escalated his knowledge of how everything in a building ties together, and it led him to pursue a career working with all the systems in a facility.

Trey Poe | Director of Facilities | IGO Legacy Hotel Group

“It took a while before I learned what facilities management was, but I was committed to the craft once I learned some basics,” he says. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Despite the lofty title and responsibility, it hasn’t always been easy for Poe. His time in the Coast Guard was affected by a deep fear of public speaking. But speaking in public is a requirement for a team leader in any company, so when he joined IGO Legacy in September 2014, he had to address it.

Poe’s first week with the company included introducing himself at a companywide meeting. It was panic-inducing, but he got through, attended some Toastmasters classes and hasn’t looked back.

“I’m probably not going to dazzle a group of 5,000 people, but I can also get through a presentation without losing 10 pounds and a week of sleep,” Poe jokes.

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. IX 2023 Edition here.

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