A Story by Mike Nixon, President (About Harlan Butler, Former President)

An alternate title to this story could be: “Harlan Regrets Not Renting a Room to Elvis.”

Yes, it’s true.

While he was a General Manager, former Innisfree President Harlan Butler got a phone call that Elvis was coming to town – and he wanted a room with a separate sleeping and living area.

Well, the hotel Harlan was managing did not have suites, nor did it have adjoining rooms. So he dismissed the call, saying: “Sorry, we can’t help you.”

If he had just given it a little bit of thought, he could have easily put a doorway in between two hotel rooms, then placed living room furniture on one side and bedroom furniture on the other side.

From that day on, he would have been able to say his hotel had housed Elvis Presley. (Kind of a big deal.)

Thinking about the ways we can help our guests rather than dismissing their requests can have far-reaching benefits … even if they’re not Elvis.

Some of this comes down to the language we use.

We have learned in the last five years that when loyalty customers ask for upgrades (particularly those who have never stayed in our hotel before), we can offer things that don’t cost the company a thing … like telling them we’ve assigned them to a room on the 7th Floor instead of the 1st.

All it takes is a turn of a phrase, and sincerity. If it’s not said with sincerity, it won’t have as profound of an impact.

BOTTOM LINE: Don’t be quick to say ‘no,’ even if you’re busy, or even if you think the request is silly. Always try to find a way to say ‘yes.’

(We all know Harlan wishes he had.)

– As told to Ashley Kahn Salley

Lead Storyteller, Innisfree Hotels


In order to have a great future, we must celebrate and learn from our incredible past. The Innisfree Hotels story began in Topeka, Kansas. So when the folks who were around back then start a story with ‘Back in Topeka,’ we know it’s time to listen. These are tales of the challenges, of the laughter and tears that come with building a company like ours. That’s the sentiment behind this blog series, a chronicle of days gone by at Innisfree Hotels – and a map to get us where we’re going.