Nationwide Franchise Assistance for Hotel Owners
MY WORK WAS MY PLAY
Hospitality Solutions President Steve Belmonte reveals his biggest achievements, his industry insights and his first job at age 12.
Who do you admire the most and why?
Jesus Christ. What other individual has had greater impact on our civilization?
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?
My involvement with PlanUSA (formerly Childreach). Building medical facilities, housing, and schools in numerous 3rd world developing countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Honduras, Dominican Republic, and many others.
And your biggest regret?
Not cultivating a hobby that I love as much as my work.
What is your idea of bliss?
Sitting in a boat, fishing for large-mouth bass on a quiet lake while my family is preparing a great lunch on the shore.
What is your motto in life?
If you can’t do it right, don’t do it.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Unfortunately, a night out at the casino with my wife Dwyonia.
What do you feel is the greatest strength of the Asian hospitality sector?
The Asian American Hotel Owners Association.
And its biggest weakness?
The Asian American Hotel Owners Association. Let me explain.
There’s no question that the AAHOA is a wonderful association. But then again, there is the Hispanic Hotel Owners Association, the Taiwanese Hotel Owners Association, the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, and so on. I think this is a problem and it’s inherently wrong. We are one industry and should be united by one voice regardless of race.
Tell us a joke.
Question: What does it mean when a lawyer is covered up to his neck in sand?
Answer: It means you don’t have enough sand.
- If you lend somebody $50 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
How and why did you get into the hospitality industry?
I started as the youngest General Manager in the history of the Holiday Inn chain as the General Manager of the Holiday Inn O’Hare Airport in Chicago at the age of 18. I always loved the industry and wanted to be in the hotel business since I was a young boy.
Who do you admire most in our industry-living, dead or retired-and why?
Some of the people I admire most include Mike Levin, Stevan Porter, Roger Bloss, and William B Walton. They all had an extraordinary passion for what they did, coupled with strong commitment of fairness to their customers.
What changes do you foresee in the next five years in hospitality?
I believe hoteliers will have to become even better business people. I personally feel that the economy has the potential to slip into much deeper and problematic territory. Hoteliers will be forced to initiate creative solutions relative to reducing costs while still maintaining an acceptable level of service and product quality. I believe that the ‘Fat Cat, my way or the highway’ franchise companies will have to significantly adjust their way of doing business in order to compete with other franchise companies such as Lexington and Americas Best Value Inn, who offer much better return on investment.
What quality/virtue do you like to see in others?
Passion and honesty. Who could ask for anything more?
In what way, if any, are you spiritual and why?
Most people would be surprised to learn that I was an ordained deacon. I certainly believe that there is much more beyond what exists on earth. I also believe that it’s too great for any person to fathom, so I try to take a simple approach and make everything black and white, right or wrong, good or evil.
What is your biggest strength?
My passion and my honesty. Some people like me, and some don’t. But even those who don’t like me trust me.
What irritates you?
Corporate politics and incompetent senior executives that run a company by fear and squelching the flame of passion in young entrepreneurs.
Do you play an active role in the community?
Throughout my life, I did a lot of work with my church as a deacon and was involved in many fundraisers that included children and the elderly.
What is your most treasured possession?
My parents. Both are very ill, but still with me. I bought a home across the street so Dwyonia and I can take care of them everyday.
Who would you most like to have dinner with?
All my department heads and employees when I was a General Manager of the Holiday Inn O’Hare back in the 1970s. What a great reunion dinner that would be.
Can you share a childhood memory with us?
I started working everyday when I was 12 years old. I was a Fuller Brush man selling door-to-door in River Forest, IL. I wasn’t into sports, I was into working. I wasn’t into after-school activities, I was into working. My work was my play. I loved it and very little has changed.
Briefly outline your road to success:
Lots of passion, have not fear of hard work, do what you love. Also, always treat people fairly. You never know when that snot-nosed kid that you’re talking to today will be sitting across from you at a board room table 10 years from now. Have a good time, laugh, enjoy what you’re doing. Otherwise, it’s work.
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