Daryl Harris Dave Ventresco
SALEM, Ohio — Travel is all about hospitality, and Daryl Harris and Dave Ventresco, two men with military backgrounds, have raised the bar in travel industry hospitality to a new level.
Both men are well known to the thousands of delegates at the BankTravel Conference, the Going On Faith Conference, the African American Travel Conference and GLAMER Chapter Meetings for the outstanding service they render.
For example, at the recent BankTravel Conference in Baton Rouge, La., Harris and Ventresco, clad in identifiable green jackets, personally greeted 500 delegates as they arrived at the Baton Rouge airport. Many had experienced flight delays due to weather and lost-baggage problems.
“Hospitality plays a key role in the success to any tour, meeting, conference or convention,” said Joe Cappuzzello of BankTravel. “Having Dave and Daryl stand at the bottom of those escalators in green blazers and meet the delegates is a game changer.”
The conference delegates agreed. A survey of delegates rated the green-jacket service provided by Harris and Ventresco as 97 percent excellent or very good.
Both men, who see it as their mission to solve problems and make people happy, credit two major factors with their understanding of human nature and willingness to give of themselves — strong religion and a military background. Harris served in the U.S. Air Force; Ventresco is a retired Army veteran.
One time at a conference, when asked if a seemingly insurmountable task could be accomplished, Ventresco replied, “I fed 15,000 soldiers cold shrimp cocktail in the hot sands of Desert Storm. Why would I worry about this?”
Harris says that his military background made him understand that almost anything can be accomplished with team support and positive attitude.
“I recognized that if the Air Force could keep world peace with a bunch of men and women in their 20s, then almost anything is possible,” Harris said.
Although both men served their country, they also come from strong religious backgrounds and credit their faith and the values it instilled in them as a major factor for their success. They grew up in different neighborhoods in Youngstown, Ohio, where Harris was immersed in a strong Protestant family, and Ventresco was a staunch Catholic.
“Daryl and I have had great conversations about things as simple as the Golden Rule and the value it plays in life, business and hospitality,” said Charlie Presley of BankTravel.
On their ways to becoming the hospitality gurus of the travel industry, both men honed their skills with careers at well-known establishments. Harris holds the top hospitality position at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock, Ark., and Ventresco spent 15 years in management serving the public at McDonald’s restaurants.
“I know how good I feel when someone takes an interest in my well-being, and that knowledge gives me the drive to take care of people,” said Harris.
He added that although hospitality seems to be disappearing, anyone can raise the bar by simply listening to the client.
Ventresco takes the tack that once he has told someone he will do something, he always delivers.
“A lady at the airport had not received her luggage; it was chaotic, and a lot was going on,” he said. “I told her I would return to help in 10 minutes. When I returned, she was surprised and said she did not expect me to. That made me feel good because it gave her hospitality beyond her expectations.”
“This is what makes the travel industry great. Two guys grow up in the same town in Ohio and take separate paths, only to find themselves 30 years later as the gurus of the travel industry,” said Presley.