Air Date: 10/22/2019   Updated: 2/20/2024

In this episode, host Nancy Marshall speaks with Sean Riley, president and CEO of Maine Course Hospitality Group (MCHG), about his career and network. Sean explains how his career in hospitality started after having been a high school teacher and the journey his career took before joining MCHG. Sean emphasizes the importance of a strong company culture and an employee first attitude, positively impacting lives every day. Social media has made it possible to further engage with employees as well as build a network. Sean describes how he uses social media and how it benefits all of his relationships, personally and professionally.  

00:00 Introduction to The PR Maven® Podcast 

01:03 Introducing Guest: Sean Riley 

03:27 How Sean’s Career Went From Teaching to Hospitality 

07:55 Building Company Culture 

09:18 Using Social Media To Positively Impact Lives

11:43 Doing What Is Important to You 

16:24 Building a Personal and Professional Network 

19:01 Measuring Success 

24:55 How Sean Built His Network  

31:29 How Sean Has Fun and Engages With Associates 

34:13 How Networking Can Enable You To Learn From Others 


About Sean 

Sean began his career in hospitality in 1982 as the general manager of a 19-room motel and cottage business in Wells, Maine, that he ran with his wife Dayna while teaching high school special ed. A few years later, with experience running larger hotels, Sean switched full time into the hotel business. After working at a couple of hotels that ended up closing, Sean worked for a bank until MCHG bought their first hotel. Over time, MCHG bought more and more hotels and Sean held many positions throughout the company until becoming the president and CEO. Today, Sean is most proud of the culture that MCHG has created, aiming to positively impact lives every day.   


Related Episodes

Episode 172: People Over Price, With Tim Winkeler, President and CEO of VIP Tires & Service

Social Media Basics Series: Find All Episodes Here

Episode 104: How to grow an already established brand, with Karl Strand, general manager at Sugarloaf


Bonus Q&A 

What is the one thing that MCHG does that has the most impact to make people feel welcome at your hotels?  

Simply put, but not always easy to do… take care of our people. They will take care of the guests and the guests will keep coming back.  

A culture of caring for our people is a distinguishable difference. Lots do it, but our purpose is “to positively impact lives.” We start that with associates first. We can’t demand that guests be taken care of if we aren’t first caring about our people. Not just with money and benefits, but in caring for them as people. Family is one of our core values and it is commonly used throughout the organization. It’s not just a word on the website or said by me. It is embraced. 

Fun is another value that can be seen and felt by guests. And that DEFINITELY has to start at the top. Think about the last time you walked in and someone was having fun and turned to you. The REAL smile, the happy face. It is contagious! 

Leaders need to set the pace! I need to set the pace. 


How do you keep employees engaged in this era of quiet quitting? 

No one is immune from what you called the “quiet quitting.” But if we stay true to our culture and core values, it lessens the chance. Compassion for associates is the right thing to have, and in turn, it creates a caring environment. People need a refuge from their tough lives. Creating a caring environment can help them, not only in the work environment, but in their life outside of work. Long gone are the days of “these are the rules, this is the schedule you are required to work.” Today it’s about flexibility and managing by reason, not by rules. We don’t get it right 100% of the time, but we try. 


What are you the most proud of in your hospitality career? 

To have participated in building a sustainable culture, and quite frankly, it’s sustainable because it’s much bigger than Sean Riley. I took part in the development and help to keep it growing, but it has truly been a culture driven from all levels of our organization. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and the culture would live on! This culture has allowed us to “positively impact lives.” Do the math, if each of our 750 associates positively impacts the life of just one guest per day, we can positively impact over a quarter of a million people per year. It’s a grandiose idea, but boy it feels good! I’m so proud of the people who make this possible every day! I am one proud Pop! 


Sean’s Mission Going Forward 

As I mature into glasses and aches and pains, I think back on my career. It is time for me and other “seasoned” professionals to give back to the industries that treated us well. It’s my mission going forward.  

Seniors are welcome in the world. No one is truly old if you stay relevant. I try daily to stay relevant, admit I don’t get it and learn to become more relevant. I use Chat GPT. In fact, everything I just said was AI driven. JK!!!!