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Benchmark Names Matt Hagerman as GM for 84-room Willows Lodge Near Seattle

Houston, Texas - April 3, 2012 - Benchmark Hospitality International, a leading U.S.-based hospitality management company, has named Matt Hagerman general manager for Willows Lodge, located in the heart of Woodinville Wine Country, Washington State’s storied viticulture region near Seattle and Bellevue. Willows Lodge is part of Benchmark Hospitality’s new collection of Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels SM. James Simkins, chief operating officer for Benchmark’s Personal Luxury properties, made the announcement.

“It is a pleasure to welcome Matt back to our company,” said Mr. Simkins. “He is a great example of a leader who understands the nuances of luxury hospitality, and the dynamics of operating a first-class hotel with a highly motivated team of professionals.”

Matt Hagerman was previously the successful general manager of The Woodmark Hotel, located in Kirkland, Washington. Mr. Hagerman was a key member of the opening management team for the luxurious and award-winning Hotel 1000, a Benchmark Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels property. He also served as hotel manager for the acclaimed property. Earlier in his career he held positions within sales and operations for leading hospitality brands.

Mr. Hagerman is a graduate of the University of Washington. He resides in the Seattle area.

About Willows Lodge
Willows Lodge, a Northwest-style lodge located in Woodinville Wine Country just outside of Seattle, features 84 luxury guestrooms, a full-service spa and high tech-equipped meeting space. Executive Chef Bobby Moore’s American regional cuisine at Barking Frog reflects the seasonal and organic produce found in Puget Sound, and is artfully paired with an extensive list of Washington wines. Willows Lodge also boasts Fireside Cellars, offering a casual and sophisticated atmosphere tucked away in the lobby with an outdoor patio overlooking the expansive surrounding landscape. Operated by Benchmark Hospitality International, Willows Lodge is a member of Benchmark’s exclusive Personal Luxury Resorts & HotelsSM For more information, visit www.willowslodge.com.

About Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels
Personal Luxury Resorts & HotelsSM represents a hand-picked group of 14 luxurious properties, in spectacular U.S. destinations coast to coast and off shore. Each hotel and resort delivers personal luxury in a spirit true to its own distinctive locale, yet in unison with the collection’s shared mission. A division of Benchmark Hospitality International, for 30 years a leading US-based hospitality management company, and led by a proven and seasoned team of award-winning luxury hospitality professionals, Personal Luxury Resorts & HotelsSM is the preferred choice of guests who yearn for transformation over accommodation, customization over conformity, and inspiration over predictability. With Personal Luxury Resorts & HotelsSM, luxury is always personal.

About Benchmark Hospitality International
Benchmark Hospitality International is a leader in the management and marketing of resorts, conference centers, hotels, and Personal Luxury Resorts & HotelsSM. The independent company, launched in 1980, is a worldwide organization operating properties in major metropolitan and resort destinations. Benchmark's international headquarters is located in The Woodlands, Texas, near Houston. Benchmark Hospitality is also a founding member of the International Association of Conference Centers. The company's eastern regional office is in New Jersey, western regional office is in Washington, with international offices in Tokyo, Japan, and Santiago, Chile. For the location of Benchmark's properties and additional information, visit www.benchmarkhospitality.com.

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Guest Service: Customer Service is a Key Business Differentiator
In today's hyper-competitive, hyper-connected global marketplace, customer experience has assumed a major role as a key business differentiator. There is a growing understanding that competition based on products or price alone is no longer a viable strategy. Since feature or function advantages can be quickly duplicated and/or enhanced, product innovation is no longer the differentiator it once was. And competition based on price impairs profitability. On the other hand, research indicates that 86 percent of consumers said they would be willing to pay more for a better customer experience. To protect both market share and margins, hotel companies must provide customers with consistent, compelling experiences - before, during, and after their purchases - across all major channels. There are many things organizations can do to deliver a superior customer experience. Management must align everything a company does with the customer service experience in mind. They must assign high value to anticipation of customers' real needs and desires, and they must incentivize and reward personal initiative in the pursuit of customer satisfaction. They must respond quickly to customer requests. They must ensure that customer interactions are highly personalized, and they must deliver the right information to the right place at the right time. And perhaps most importantly, upper management must create a culture where customer service is valued and esteemed, taught and rewarded. Customer experience leaders who can drive this kind of cultural change will radically affect their companies? competitive position and business performance. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.