Tuesday, December 5

Help Somebody (Van Zant)

We stay in a LOT of hotels throughout the year....every city comes with a new hotel room, as well as the transitory stays between cities. So a few years ago, we started making notes and picking and choosing our favorites, as well as noting why they were chosen, so that we would remember to stay there (or avoid it) the next time we were in the area. Thus was born our "Hotel of the Year" award. 

Some years, (such as the Middlebury Inn in 2014) there's a clear-cut winner, while others (such as Hampton Inn - Mannheim in 2015) it's been a close call. This year's award was easily given...

2017 Hotel of the Year : Holiday Inn Express - Lebanon, PA
Without further ado, meet D-Khana - a little man with a big smile! (Although, he's not a fan of having his picture taken...LOL.) He alone was the reason this year's winner was so easy to choose.

D-Khana works at the Holiday Inn Express in Lebanon, PA, and it's our favorite hotel stay of the year. Interestingly, it's only a stone's throw from a previous winner...and we really think that this area is one of the friendliest areas in the US. If you haven't visited Central PA, you should plan a trip!

We were at this particular stop for almost two weeks, and had a chance to see the ins and outs of this location.  D-Khana works in maintenance, but he's more of a customer service man.  No job is too big or too small...even if it's not his job.  In fact, not once did he ever exhibit the "it's not my job" attitude.  We saw him covering maintenance, customer service, housekeeping, breakfast, and the front desk - all with a terrific attitude!  

When our air conditioner quit working and the room had some other issues, but the hotel was completely booked, he found us a new place and then went straight to work trying to fix the original issue.  When someone quit and didn't show up for their job, he did his own and her job, too!  He came early, he stayed late.  When it was his day off, but a co-worker didn't have a ride to work, he picked up said co-worker, brought him in, and then proceeded to work both of those days without pay...just so he could be there to bring the man back home after work.  

In the spirit of full disclosure, he works the day shift - which was fabulous, while the evening shift was completely and utterly useless.  In fact, the few times we had an issue in the evening, and were unable to get it resolved within a few hours (or even just a question that resulted in shoulder shrugs from the staff before they turned away), we would bring it to him in the morning and have an answer / resolution very quickly.  He is ALWAYS trying to see how he can make someone else's day brighter!

D-Khana exhibited an attitude toward life, and his work, that is lacking in today's society.  He sees something that needs doing, and he does it without being asked.  He expends more energy on helping others than he does on pleasing himself.  His work ethic is outstanding, and he is why we voted this small-town hotel as our best stay of the year.  

So the next time you're heading to Amish Country, Hershey, Chocolate World, or Gettysburg...you now know where to stay!!

How to Write a Business Letter (and Why!)
As students become teens, it’s time for them to learn how to write a business letter. The goal of this writing is to articulate a concern and seek or suggest an action.

Whether you've experienced troubles or enjoyed your stay, a business letter or follow-up to a phone call is a life skill that all teens should learn. These letters aren't just for expressing displeasure -- they're also a great opportunity to point out what's right with your product / service...although all too often, these letters aren't the ones that get written.

Business letters are used for the following situations :
  • To praise a product, service supplier, or staff person
  • To compliment a speaker
  • To compliment or praise an author
  • To praise someone for an achievement
  • To complain about poor product quality or poor service
  • To ask for political or social action or change
  • To write a letter of recommendation
  • To request information
A few notes :
  • Letters may be written in block or indented form. See examples of both here.
  • Be professional.  A business letter should be on par with a resume; clean and precise.  It should also be fair and not abusive (if it is a letter of complaint).
  • Write clearly and to a point.  Use active writing and short paragraphs.  Keep it to a single page, if possible.
  • Single space your letter and leave a space between each paragraph. Use a plain font like Arial or Times New Roman.
  • Use underlining or bold print to emphasize a few words or a phrase that is the most important part of the letter.
  • Be persuasive.  Suggest a solution and provide sound reasoning for the suggestion.
  • Proofread your letter!!  I cannot stress this enough.

Writing Assignment

Use the sample letter below to practice writing a letter to one of these recipients :
  • City council member 
  • State legislator, representative, or governor 
  • Owner of a local business 
  • President or CEO of a corporation 
  • College or university admissions department 
  • Chamber of Commerce (to request brochures or travel information

Sample Letter Format

Contact Information (Your contact information. If you are writing on letterhead that includes your contact information, you do not need to include it at the start of the letter.)
Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address


Contact Information (The person or company you are writing to)
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name: (Use a formal salutation, not a first name, unless you know the person extremely well. Note that the person's name is always followed by a colon (:) in a business letter, and not a comma. If you do not know the recipient’s name, it is still common (and safe) to use the old-fashioned “To Whom It May Concern:”).

The first paragraph of your letter should provide an introduction as to why you are writing so that your purpose is obvious from the very beginning.

In the following paragraphs, provide more information and specific details about your request or the information you are providing.

The last paragraph of your letter should reiterate the reason you are writing and thank the reader for reviewing your request. If appropriate, it should also politely ask for a written response or for the opportunity to arrange a meeting to further discuss your request.

Sincerely / Thank you,   (Choose one.)

Leave four lines for a Handwritten Signature (for a hard copy letter — use blue or black ink to sign the letter)

Typed Signature