Andy Grinsfelder is vice president of sales and marketing for Delaware North Parks & Resorts, a division of Delaware North - a global leader in Hospitality and food services. In this role, Andy is responsible for providing the leadership and coordination of all sales and marketing efforts for the over 40 Parks & Resorts locations in the United States and abroad. He oversees the creation, development and execution of all external marketing campaigns and promotions, working closely with public relations, digital marketing and a number of other internal and external partners. Andy monitors and analyzes sales and marketing activity against the division’s goals and develops business intelligence and consumer insight programs to help drive business. Additionally, he’s charged with identifying marketing opportunities that support the division’s overall growth plan.
How did you get into the hospitality industry?
Many years ago, I was driving around the Southwest camping and sightseeing when I came across a sign at Bitter Springs, AZ. It said Grand Canyon North Rim turn right, South Rim turn left. So I flipped a coin. I ended up at the Saloon on the North Rim where I met some fantastic people who worked there. It really felt like they were inviting me into their family – a sort of exclusive club who’d discovered the coolest place on the planet to live and work. They let me bunk in their cabin and helped me get hired on as a housekeeper the next day.
What strategic partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented that have attributed to Delaware North’s success?
We’ve made some recent changes where we’re trying to ramp up the science of our marketing programs. We’ve brought in some bright and talented data scientists, we’ve switched out some key systems, and we’ve got a new partnership with a CRM firm that will allow us to dive into a very detailed understanding of who our customer is, what they want from us, and what tailored communication pieces will best aid those consumers in their travel planning decision process.
(Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is a Sierra resort set at the national park’s South gate)
What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?
Authentic Experiences people definitely are traveling looking for those bucket list items that have that raw genuine emotive power. We are well positioned with properties and product focused on delivering authenticity. That is obviously expressed at the destinations we operate in such as Kennedy Space Center when you standing beneath a real space shuttle with its gloried history. We try and take that a step further to ensure the authenticity permeates every aspect of the experience, whether it’s sustainable food options at all our parks, or interpretive educational messaging incorporated into our retail stores.
If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.
Delaware North's Motto?
Whether you’re enjoying the game at your favorite ballpark, out for a night on the town, or traveling to one of our stunning locations, our role is to work behind the scenes to create world-class experiences. And our spirit, our passion, is to go beyond your expectations.
(Located in the heart of West Yellowstone, these self-catering cabins are located just minutes away from the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park.)
Your greatest success as Vice President of Delaware North? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?
I’m pretty sure that moment is yet to come, and I’m not taking credit for any of our successes, because every success I have ever witnessed was invariably the result of a team effort. I will say I have learned from many mistakes, most recently we looked to remove several key systems that were really obstructing progress, we probably bit off too much to quickly - pushing for too much systematic and process change and improvement in too little time can overwhelm and wear down a team. We’ve got to maintain a balance between keeping it challenging, but not overly burdensome.
Your advice to an aspiring hotelier?
Start by finding a leadership role with a staff that never misses a beat, at a beautiful property in a perfect location, with customers who love life and never complain, and a boss who totally gets you and gives you the freedom to explore your creative dreams...
…Or work really, really hard to make that vision a reality and never accept that achieving it is out of your control.
Describe the ideal experience at a Delaware North venue.
I’m going to get in trouble for having to pick just one considering we have such a great portfolio of unique locations. Everyone has a different ideal experience and we definitely have something for most everyone. I find I really recharge the batteries when I get to experience our parks and resorts. Whether it’s the exhilaration of standing atop a canyon rim thousands of feet high at the Grand Canyon, walking through the serene magic of a forest of ancient giants at Sequoia, or witnessing the awesome power of nature as a storm lights up the sky off the beach at Olympic.
The National Park Service has a new ad campaign in celebration of the agency’s centennial anniversary next year. The campaign’s tagline is “Find your park.” I could not agree more with the concept that the parks have so much to offer that if you just venture out and explore, you’re sure to find one that fits your personality and becomes a favorite destination.
(Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are known for sky-scraping forests and mighty redwoods and sequoias.)
How do you motivate your employees?
I’m lucky enough to have a team of amazing people who thankfully don’t rely on me for motivation. In fact it’s usually quite the opposite. The dedication and passion I witness every day from the effort they put forth is what usually motivates me to try not mess things up too much.
One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?
Pizza and Orange Juice - I’d never survive, but at least I wouldn’t die of scurvy.
What literature is on your bed stand?
Right now it’s Damned by Chuck Palahniuk on the bed stand, Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien De Castell on the phone, and in my back pack is a copy of Joyce’s Dubliner’s that I’m slogging through.
(Space Shuttle AtlantisSM at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex puts visitors face to face and nose to nose with the priceless Atlantis spacecraft.)
Role model - business and personal?
Genghis Khan for Business –he gets a bad rap. Sure he was brutal and led a horde of wild crazed plundering killers, but you don’t take over half the world without having set up a sustainable system of leadership that doesn’t collapse in on itself.
On a personal level, my wife never ceases to amaze me at how gracefully she raises our children. Every word, every action seems perfectly timed to reinforce sense of enjoy the spontaneous living in the moment that comes naturally to children while helping them learn and grow. I try to emulate that interpersonal-expertise at home and at work, but it usually comes off as ham-fisted amateur hour.
Kids grow up real fast, I’m just trying to keep up. What free moment’s I get to myself are usually spent writing, reading, exercising, and watching Kung-Fu movies.
Favorite travel destination?
Any park – especially, Grand Canyon (my first park), Sequoia (where I spent the most time) and Zion (where I met and married my wife).
What's next for Delaware North?
We’re celebrating our 100th Anniversary this year! And, yes, it marks 100 years of a successful and growing business, but it’s more than just a milestone for us. It’s also an opportunity. An opportunity to generate excitement for our future while celebrating our past, and a way to strengthen the bond Delaware North shares with its partners and associates.
We’re celebrating all around the work too! Over a 100-day period, every Delaware North location will celebrate the 100th anniversary through special events and pretty cool activations. It’s an effort we’re calling 100 Days Around Our World, and it’ll focus on what makes Delaware North special, including the people, places and partnerships.
(Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park presents the majesty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley and the heart of the Appalachian Trail.)
Having joined Delaware North more than 15 years ago, Andy has held various positions within the Parks & Resorts division, most recently as Director of Sales and Marketing. He has been responsible for leading the revenue management and leisure sales teams, as well overseeing the marketing technologies and analytics departments, guiding the Delaware North Parks and Resorts division to continuous annual RevPAR growth despite the economic recessions. In addition, he held the position of General Manager at Sequoia National Park.
In all, Andy has more than 22 years of hospitality operational management and marketing experience. Prior to joining Delaware North, he worked for Aramark as the General Manager of Wahweap Lodge at Lake Powell, Arizona, and was the General Manager at Zion Lodge in Zion National Park, UT. Andy is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with degrees in Mathematics and Philosophy.