A self-described gardener, Makeready President and COO Christine Magrann was tapped by Jimmy Merkel, CEO and founder of investment firm Rockbridge, in 2015 to take on a position that entailed tending to a relatively new variety of guest, one seeking a more personal experience than that offered by the traditional brands. Magrann recently shared with LODGING how she approaches providing the brand’s unique guest experiences much like a gardener, with patience, teamwork, and constancy, saying, “Our mission is to meet people where they are, creating memorable experiences where all feel welcome, cared for, and valued.” She describes some of the fundamentals that define Makeready, which aims to concept, develop, and operate independent experiences that are an essential part of each community. This includes identifying markets, cultivating deep local connections, and selecting and training staff that can support their vision.
Magrann says the name Makeready, which is based on verbiage from the printing world, encapsulates the brand’s objective—to make a perfect impression. “We ended up liking how the term describes what we’re trying to do, work really hard behind the scenes to make a great impression for our team members and guests.”
Magrann, who has a strong background in food and beverage, says they look for markets likely to attract guests who are “curious, interested in something new, and different.” They therefore focus on markets “where business is thriving, ones that that already have successful independent restaurateurs and a lot of unique, one-of-a kind retail shops coming in.”
Magrann says they also seek to attract the local community with their own specially curated retail and restaurants, including coffee shops and rooftop experiences. She says outdoor experiences continue to be the biggest draw in recent years, gaining real traction that has continued even since the pandemic has ebbed. “There are more rooftop experiences over the past couple of years for all the reasons that we know; but some of our coffee shops are wildly successful, too—with lines out the door.”
Then, too, are the people who provide the human connection that can make all the difference in the guest experience—the team members. Magrann stresses the importance of treating them with the same care, respect, and thoughtfulness they are expected to extend to guests. Beyond that, she recognizes that just as team members cater to the individuality of their guests, it’s important that they have the freedom to be themselves, to serve guests in their own way, within reason. “We look to hire the right people, people with a commitment to hospitality, that really want to help create special experiences, and to uphold our standards around lifestyle and service; but we also want them to have their own personalities and their own unique ability to engage with the guest.”
Magrann considers training essential to teach employees about their respective positions, guest expectations, and the community in which they are operating. However, she says, “There is no training manual for intuitive service; it has to be nurtured, it has to be practiced, it must be learned through experience.”
Since its conception, Makeready has grown its portfolio to 12 hotels and 32 restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. The Junto, which will open in May 2023, will be the first independent lifestyle hotel in Columbus, Ohio.