Skyline International Development CEO Michael Sneyd takes his job behind-the-scenes as he works at two Skyline Hotels & Resorts locations on Undercover Boss Canada airing Thursday, March 29, 9 p.m. ET/PT on the W Network.
Since his CEO appointment in early 2011, Sneyd and the Skyline management team have been on a mission to advance the brand from a regional collection of hotels and lifestyle real estate projects, to become a key player in the Canadian hospitality and destination community business.
On the show, Sneyd joins employees at Horseshoe Resort near Barrie and Deerhurst Resort in Muskoka to wait tables, make snow for ski hills and haul hay for hungry horses. “Initially I was concerned about being recognized, but the approach and disguise were effective and allowed me to fit right in as a front-line employee,” said Sneyd. “This process gave me a much deeper appreciation for our Skyline team and how hard they work every day to deliver great memories for our guests. I was humbled by how difficult it is to spend a full shift on your feet and the level of customer service and professionalism our staff achieve.”
The impact of seasonality, weather and short-term booking patterns on resort traffic was a factor in both the episode’s production and Skyline’s focus. “This unusually warm winter has been a great case study on where we are proactive, and where there is still opportunity to enhance and promote unique offerings,” he noted.
Sneyd’s overall insights about Skyline’s potential centred on the need to integrate technology, training and teamwork. “To be successful in our business, we have to create partnerships with our employees, guests and owners. That won’t change no matter how many high-tech tools we embrace. What has changed significantly is the business of hospitality,” Sneyd added.
“We are in a very complex industry that is about much more than just bricks and mortar. Undercover Boss reinforced how important it is to equip employees with both the physical and motivational tools to get the job done well and increase efficiency, as well as to value their input.”
The experience inspired Sneyd to implement an annual ‘Undercover Jobs Day’ at Skyline, where corporate office executives, general managers and hotel leadership committee members will all spend a shift filling line-level jobs. “There’s nothing like walking in another person’s shoes, even for a short time, to open your eyes to their work world.”
Sneyd’s role also opened his eyes to just how much walking many of the jobs at 600-acre Horseshoe Resort and 760-acre Deerhurst Resort demand. “Both are large properties and I’d estimate many of our team cover at least five kilometers a day in the course of simply completing their tasks.”
Hired to implement the fast forward vision of Skyline founder and president Gil Blutrich, in his first 12 months at the top of company operations, Sneyd has already overseen a $27 million private equity placement and the acquisition of Deerhurst Resort and the company’s first U.S. property, which includes the landmark Cleveland Arcade and the 293-room Hyatt Regency hotel. His tenure has also encompassed the introduction of real estate and re-development projects, including the overnight sell-out Summit Lodges and new Highlands Golf Cottages at Deerhurst Resort, and Horseshoe’s Copeland House, as well as the next phase of the company’s plan to restore the waterfront of Port McNicoll, near Midland, Ontario, into an extensive mixed use destination and gateway to the 30,000 Islands that also anchors one end of the new Georgian Valley tourism corridor.