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Delaware North Companies Names Stewart Collins to Lead Successful Customer Service Program

Global hospitality company’s GuestPath® approach becoming a competitive advantage

BUFFALO, N.Y. (April 9, 2008) – Global hospitality and food service provider Delaware North Companies has named Stewart Collins director of GuestPath®, the company’s highly successful proprietary customer service program.

GuestPath has helped Delaware North achieve measurable increases in customer satisfaction since 2004, when the company began implementing the program throughout is worldwide operations. Those operations include historic parks and resorts, major sports stadiums, airports, and gaming destinations.

“In our lodging, restaurants, and other operations, GuestPath has been a key factor in enabling Delaware North to accomplish our mission of delivering special experiences one guest at a time to the more than half-a-billion customers we serve each year,” said Dennis Szefel, Delaware North Companies chief administrative officer.

“GuestPath is imperative to our success and geared toward our customers and clients. In the hospitality industry and our markets, we have become customer service leaders because we’ve invested the time and energy to create not just a program, but actually a core philosophy for our business,” Szefel said.

He said the program has also become a differentiator with both existing and would-be clients.

“It’s being noticed by our clients, some of whom have asked us to help them implement the program throughout their operations, such as at sports stadiums at which we provide food and retail services but the client handles or contracts out other operational aspects,” Szefel said. “It has also been a key factor in obtaining some new clients when competitors had nothing as impressive to offer.”

For example, at Niagara Falls State Park, where Delaware North handles food service and retail operations, the company has been providing GuestPath training to New York state parks employees who staff park attractions.

Delaware North launched GuestPath in 2005 as a continuous improvement process designed to create a platform of excellence for guest service. First implemented in the Parks & Resorts division, GuestPath now extends into the company’s other business lines, including Sportservice and Travel Hospitality Services.

Thousands of Delaware North executives and associates have undergone GuestPath training and helped to bolster the program’s company-wide efforts. Delaware North also continuously measures the impact of the program and addresses issues that are identified to help better serve customers.

Szefel said Collins has shown an impressive ability to convey the core principles of GuestPath to other Delaware North associates and to manage many customer service efforts.

Collins joined Delaware North Companies in 2000 as director of guest services at Yosemite National Park. In that role, he oversaw an extensive team of associates related to overall customer service. In 2005, he became a GuestPath business partner, helping train Parks & Resorts general managers and design and implement customer satisfaction surveys.

Collins’ efforts with GuestPath have helped the company earn impressive results. Midway through 2007, 90 percent of Parks & Resorts guests suggested they would be likely to recommend their trip to others. In addition, 92 percent of Delaware North lodging guests said they were satisfied or extremely satisfied with their stay.

“GuestPath is unique in large part because our company is so unique,” Collins said. “Guests visit us at places such as Yosemite National Park and Kennedy Space Center and famous ballparks like Comerica Park and Busch Stadium. These are special places and sometimes part of a once-in-a-lifetime trip, so we want to ensure these visits are as memorable as possible.”

Over his 27 years in the hospitality industry, Collins has demonstrated an ability to manage such a growing and complex program as GuestPath, Szefel said. He said Collins has also proven himself a valuable resource at establishing and maintaining partnerships, emphasizing team building and incorporating effective communications in the workplace.

Collins fills the role vacated by Jeff Hess, who was promoted to vice president of retail for Delaware North earlier this year.

Before joining Delaware North, Collins worked as an adjunct faculty member at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon, and was snowboard and ski school director at Timberline Lodge in Oregon. In addition, Collins held a variety of management positions for more than a decade in New Hampshire, including general manager of King Ridge, assistant general manager at Ski Bretton Woods and assistant general manager at Mount Washington Hotel and Resort.

Collins earned a bachelor’s degree in recreation management from the University of Vermont. He also participated in the Walt Disney College Program. He currently lives in California and will be relocating with his family to Western New York.