A look at the people behind the numbers in area business.
Title: Director of sales and marketing
Peter Zellmer's resume was a virtual travelogue of historic hotels even before his recent hiring as the St. Paul Hotel's director of sales and marketing.
While all that history is a natural selling point, Zellmer said a strong future also depends on offering a fresh experience today to business and leisure travelers and bar and restaurant guests.
"We've done things right for 102 years," Zellmer said of the downtown St. Paul landmark. "That's not done by making radical changes. But a property so rich in history cannot ever rest on its laurels. We have to be changing, ever changing, to make sure that people see a freshness at all times in our service delivery."
With executive opportunities relatively rare at independent, historic properties, Zellmer said he felt "privileged to be on board" at the St. Paul Hotel, where he is responsible for increasing revenue from room bookings and the St. Paul Grill and the M Street Cafe. He also is in charge of marketing the hotel, working with St. Paul-based Morrissey Hospitality Cos., which manages the property.
Zellmer has 23 years of experience in the hospitality industry, much of that at historic hotels such as the Palmer House in Chicago, the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee and the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver. He most recently worked as project analyst for Nelson Development in his native Wisconsin, where he also served as general manager and director of sales and marketing at the Lake Lawn Resort.
Zellmer has a degree in hotel and restaurant management from the University of Wisconsin-Stout's highly regarded program.
QWhat do you like about working in historic hotels?
AYou can walk into a Marriott, Hyatt, whatever and regardless of where it is there are so many similarities. When you walk into each of the independent hotels, it has its own brand, its own history, its own feel. You have to understand the different feel of these properties and market to their strengths. You have to be very creative. And in properties like this, there is so much of a family concept. It's not just employees working with other employees. They truly live, breathe, eat the St. Paul Hotel culture.
QDoes the historic appeal offer any buffer to those properties when the economy sours?
AEven working at a four-diamond hotel, you are able to see that ebb and flow of business cycles. We have to make sure we keep our eye on the economy and make sure that we're rightly positioned to focus on the markets that are going to produce [revenue]. One thing we do very well is we market to each of our different customers and we do a good job of marketing our food and beverage outlets.
QWhen you travel, do you choose historic hotels, chains or do you try to get away from it all?
AI am definitely an outdoorsman, no doubt about it. I do seek out historic properties. But in my time off, I am outdoors, hunting and fishing, taking in nature.