Bubbler Executive of the Week

Peggy Williams-Smith, Vice President of Food and Beverage at Marcus Hotels & Resorts
Company address: 100 E. Wisconsin Ave., Ste. 1900, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Website: www.marcushotels.com   
Industry: Hospitality
Number of employees: 6,000
Family: Husband, Tim – General Manager of the InterContinental Milwaukee

What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?

“We rebranded Miller Time Pub & Grill and acquired two new properties, one in Lincoln, Neb., and one in Atlanta, Ga., and continued to support community-wide events such as Milwaukee IndyFest and the Milwaukee Air & Water Show.”  

What’s new at your company? 

“Kirk Rose was hired as the new president of our hotel division. I am very excited with some of the changes he has already implemented and I look forward to the outside perspective he will share with our team.”

Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year? 

“One of the many positive things about Marcus Hotels & Resorts is that we are constantly reinvesting in our assets. It’s one of the reasons I have stayed with the company for over 15 years.”

What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year? 

“The economy continues to be a challenge. With volatility comes apprehension, and apprehension causes people to deviate from their typical spending habits. The increase in hotel supply will also challenge our portfolio in Milwaukee.”

What’s the hottest trend in your industry?

“There are many trends but I find two of them to be especially interesting: Hotels and their restaurants are becoming more seamless with the surrounding area. We are seeing less of a distinction between a hotel restaurant and a neighborhood hangout, with locals—not just hotel guests—spending time there. All three of our Milwaukee hotels are using this trend to their advantage with Clear, Lobby Lounge and The Monarch Lounge. We will also continue to see less formality when it comes to restaurant dining. Restaurants will have the service and quality associated with fine dining but without the white tablecloths, sommeliers, etc. With the increasing desire to know where our food and spirits/wine come from, the focus on quality and origin will become more important than the formalities that surround fine dining.”

Do you have a business mantra? 

“Treat others as you wish to be treated.”

From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?

“There are so many business acquaintances and colleagues that I look up to, but the person that I look up to the most is my dad. I admire the way that my father has always carried himself in business. He treats people with dignity and respect, and that goes a long way in forming and maintaining relationships.”

What was the best advice you ever received? 

“No one is forcing you to stay in your current position, so if you aren’t satisfied, you can always find your happiness elsewhere. We are in the business of making memories, so that needs to be top of mind at our company each and every day. Greg Marcus, our chief executive officer, always says, “Our job is to make somebody’s ordinary day extraordinary,” and I truly believe that we need to embody that statement in all of our hotels.”

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career? 

“We had just opened the Milwaukee ChopHouse at the Hilton Milwaukee. All of the managers were to bring their family in to test the new menu. I brought my parents. They had a great COMPLIMENTARY steak dinner. As I was walking them out of the restaurant, a guest asked us if we knew of a good steak restaurant. I was about to answer “Milwaukee ChopHouse,” but my mom beat me to it and said, “Mo’s is a great steak house. You should definitely go there.” My dad just shook his head. Parents – you can dress them up, but you can’t take them anywhere.”

What do you like to do in your free time? 

“I like to eat out, spend time with my family, especially my nieces and nephews, and spend time with my husband and friends.”

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