Living our Work

CEO Bret Wirta lectures at University of New Hampshire



March 13, 2018

(Durham, NH) Wirta Hospitality Worldwide CEO Bret Wirta was a guest lecturer at the University of New Hampshire’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics recently. He spoke to seniors in the Strategic Management class of the college’s Hospitality Program.

Said Wirta, “I was excited to talk to these capable students who were about to begin their hospitality careers. Most will develop rewarding professions in prestigious corporations.”

But Wirta’s lecture “Entrepreneurial Hospitality,” focused on a different career path, one that specializes in design, construction, ownership and management.

Said Wirta, “I told them I had a crystal ball. Years from now some of them would want to own their own hotels and restaurants as the next phase in their professional development. Then I showed them how they could achieve that goal.”

Concluded Wirta, “I told the students and Nelson A. Barber, PhD, and Chair of the Hospitality Management Program that it was an honor to be invited to speak at my alma mater and that I had hoped that I planted a seed that would blossom into hospitality entrepreneurship in the years to come.”

The Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire empowers students to become engaged, well-rounded, principled leaders. Immersed in a culture of rigorous academics, infused with real-world relevance, students work closely with faculty members who are leading researchers and industry experts passionate about teaching and student success.

Wirta Hospitality Worldwide is owned by Bret and Trisha Wirta who create pleasing spaces that provide affordable delight by developing or purchasing hotel and restaurant properties and operating them to high guest-satisfaction standards. Their mission is to be a source of joy for our guests, growth for our employees, wealth for our investors, and inspiration for the communities in which they serve.

Emotional intelligence – Being smart isn’t just having a high IQ

Bret Wirta and Steve Barth

Bret Wirta and Steve Barth

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand emotions, use the information to guide your thinking and behavior, and adjust your own emotions to achieve your goals. Emotional Intelligence is the ability to manage change. Studies have shown that up to 80 percent of future success depends on EI (emotional intelligence) rather than IQ.

Steve Barth is one of the foremost authorities on Emotional Intelligence. I have attend many of his lectures. Recently at a hospitality conference in Las Vegas, Steve began by saying that your ego is your enemy. You need to understand true empathy, like understanding what it’s like to be a shredded chicken salad, but from chicken’s perspective! Conflict is not about right or wrong. It’s about meeting needs. The stronger the emotional connection you build with your customers the greater their loyalty. Conversely, you get graded by the lowest score from any single individual on your team. Your organizational chart needs to be a reverse pyramid with supervisors on the bottom and employees on the top.

Steve said don’t compare yourselves to others. Focus on you and your health, but have self-respect and passion for others. Respect others time, space, person, beliefs, and ideas. Listen empathetically – this will change your destiny and your life.

I love what Steve says and encourage everybody to work on improving their Emotional Intelligence. More at:

Is Technology Disrupting your Business? The Intended and Unintended Effects of Technology in Your Hotel

Bret Wirta and Greg Duff

May 10, 2017 – Greg Duff, Chair and Owner of Garvey Schubert Barer presented at the Choice Hotels Annual Conference, at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, Las Vegas.

Greg heads his firms Hospitality, Travel and Tourism group.  He is our company’s hospitality attorney. Greg says these six technologies will have the largest effect on all of us in the hospitality industry in the future:

  1. Voice or Messaged Based User Interfaces. Intended – accessibility, ease of use, multitasking Unintended – This will bypass our franchise channels and control the bookings. How do you communicate terms of agreement for room booking?
  2. Internet of Things. Intended – Enseo is a smart device that controls TV, predicts temperature and sets room thermostat. Beacon tracking technology. location based offers. Unintended – hacking such as airlines, dams, power company. Too much data! Creating liability of no action? Difficult integration
  3. Artificial Intelligence. Intended – Personalization. Make interfacing easy. Ability to access and analyze data and act. Watson is being used by Zumata on Meta search responses. Lola uses real travel agents. Unintended – What about recommendations from AI for healthcare decisions? Is there a human override?
  4. Augmented Reality. Intended- Robust technology delivery. Overlay of technology like Google Glass or enabled screen on phone or Google Maps. Best Western is partnering with Disney to put kids in Disney scenes. Unintended – not paying attention, injury, death, trespass. Privacy exclusion
  5. Virtual Reality. Intended – Wonderful content delivery. Actual reproduction recreation of world as in Google Cardboard. Lodging companies are adapting, especially for tours of hotels. Unintended – Human interaction declines. If it’s so good then why travel? Liability of extreme content. Multi-tasking is a no-no. Whose rules exist in the virtual world? Is what you do their illegal?
  6. Robots. Intended- No sick days, no union, A culmination of all of these technologies come together in a physical presence. Replace human hours/cost. Unintended – no smile and empathy. Guest expectation go through the roof. Narrow scope of responsibility. Privacy. Liability. Loss of control.

In the end I couldn’t help but thinking, is this hospitality world we really want? I think a boutique hotel of the future may be one that is technology free!

What to Expect with Federal Tax Reform – A Panel Discussion

Rolf Lundberg, Former Senior Vice President, Congressional & Public Affairs at The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and JD Foster, Chief Economist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – B. Wirta photo

May 11, 2017 – At the Choice Hotels Annual Conference, Mandalay Bay Resort, Las Vegas, I was able to participate in a US Federal tax reform discussion with JD Foster, Chief Economist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Rolf Lundberg, Former Senior Vice President, Congressional & Public Affairs at The U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These are their opinions – not necessarily mine.

JD Foster began by saying that our tax system fundamentally does work, however it’s overly complicated. Tax rates really matter. The US now has one the highest rates. Other countries have lower rates. This makes it more difficult to be competitive.

Other points made were:

Lower the rates broaden the base is the mantra of this tax reform.

Pass through rates are important, not just corporate rates.

Tax codes should not be influencing business decisions.

Role of 100% expensing of assets instead of long term depreciation is at core of new tax reform.

Tax reform will lower capital gains in new tax policy so prospects for 1031 exchanges deductions are good they will stay.

When will tax reform occur? The sooner the better. Congress needs to get it right because it will affect us for next decade.

We will have another recession someday, but for now we should have an acceleration in business investment.

There are a few experts on both sides of the isle in Congress who understand tax reform and the congressional process.

The 1986 tax reform act was bipartisan and comprehensive. Now tax reform will be more focused on changes in rates, expense rules and death taxes.

Tax reform should be a revenue neutral bill, but at the end of day some people will have a tax increase.


Toast to Jon Jarvis, Director, National Park Service

WNPF party for Jon Jarvis

Toast to Jon Jarvis, Director, National Park Service

As president of the board of the Washington’s National Park Fund I had the honor of toasting Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service. I said: It’s an honor to toast Jon Jarvis during the centennial of the National Park Service. As an avid backpacker who is forever telling or writing about my National Park adventures, I’m so excited about the work Jon and his team are doing in helping visitors find the parks that inspire them. But I also want to recognize the positive impact, both economic and social, that the National Park Service here at our three national parks has on our local communities. More than ever I see our superintendents reaching out and engaging with the business, social and governmental organizations that surround the national parks. Every park visitor supports family business and delivers tax dollars that enhance the services of local municipalities. I thank the National Park Service for that.

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Advocates for our National Parks

Staffing the WNPF booth

Staffing the WNPF booth

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

The famous naturalist, John Muir, wrote that back in 1912, and I believe it’s even more true today – all of us can benefit from outdoor recreation. Muir was one of the earliest advocates of spending time outdoors, and to be certain that there would always be wild places of beauty to visit, he became an eloquent spokesperson for the concept of our National Parks. Today, that same passionate National Park advocacy has been handed down to filmmakers like Ken Burns who has documented our National Parks and called them, “America’s best idea.” The next generation of filmmakers, like Shaun McGillivary, has seized the torch with his new film, National Parks Adventure.

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Telling your story

The Harbor Game Room

The Harbor Game Room

At a lodging conference I met Lucas Mack. Lucas wrote a book with the compelling title, “Everybody has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Face.” Lucas said understanding who you are and where you came from will help you to weather unanticipated storms. Lucas was a former TV reporter who said he always tried to make his stories relevant by answering the “So what” question at the story’s end. Lucas went on to found 4th Avenue Media, a marketing firm that helps companies communicate their values clearly to attract the right customers.

I loved this message of understanding the roots of your own story and making sure your story is relevant. Thanks for the advice Lucas. Here is my story:

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We love that Face on the Tail

Trisha with the Face on the Tail

Trisha with the Face on the Tail

Trisha and I attended the Alaska Airlines brand re-launch party. We love Alaska Airlines with its happy Eskimo logo smiling from the tail of all their airplanes. Alaska Airlines is a Seattle-based company that’s all about genuine, caring service. At the party we sat with a retired doctor and his wife who had flown over two million miles with Alaska. The doctor said how important the airline had been to his practice that had included many small Alaskan towns. We told the couple how all our General Managers use Alaska Airlines visa cards, and that helps us to lower our company’s travel costs by generating free air travel with their user-friendly, guest rewards program. We all agreed that given the choice, we always fly Alaska.

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Take Control of Your Mind

L to R - Bret Wirta, Trisha Wirta, Steve Gutzler and Becca Wirta at WLA

L to R – Bret Wirta, Trisha Wirta, Steve Gutzler and Becca Wirta at WLA

Steve Gutzler is one of the nation’s premier thought leaders on leadership, Emotional Intelligence and personal transformation. My family met Steve at a recent hospitality conference. At the conference we were bombarded by information, and by the third day my head was spinning, my eyes were crossed and I was having trouble absorbing new data.

Steve said that the greatest enemy to your best thoughts is their dilution due to information overload. This happens to us daily in our overly-connected world.

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Corporations for Communities Award

(L-to-R) Kelly Liske, Larry Hueth, CEO, FFS&L, Sec. of State Kim Wyman and Bret and Trisha Wirta

(L-to-R) Kelly Liske, Larry Hueth, CEO, FFS&L, Sec. of State Kim Wyman and Bret and Trisha Wirta

Trisha and I drove to our state capitol in Olympia, Washington, yesterday to meet the Secretary of State. Secretary Kim Wyman led a ceremony recognizing the nominees for the 2015 Corporations for Communities Award. This award honors exceptional Washington businesses that make it a priority to help the community in which they do business. We accepted the nomination on behalf of our Black Bear Diner in Sequim and for Danny Banwait, owner of the Federal Way, Black Bear Diner who couldn’t attend.

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