My journey with the RCS Hospitality Group (formerly Reid Consulting Services) began two decades ago. In the middle of a successful management career, I took a leap of faith and founded RCS as a way to apply my experience, education, and passion for excellence to the hospitality industry and the world of private clubs.
Since taking that first step our industry has witnessed many changes, from aging demographics, to shifting discretionary spending, to the opportunities inherent in increasingly diverse memberships. Everything we knew about this business 20 to 30 years ago has been turned upside down, yet the fundamental principles of hospitality have remained the same. All club managers are seeking ways to fuse service with technology and solve the puzzle of economics, culture, and member needs. Clubs today look much different than they did 30 years ago and the clubs of the future will continue to evolve. That's where RCS comes in.
I believe the road to success is paved with understanding. Understanding our societal changes; understanding the needs of our members; understanding that we cannot manage our businesses as we have in the past if we want to survive; understanding how the labor force is changing year to year; understanding that technology is as much a part of people’s lives as electricity; and understanding that we must evolve or we will lose relevance. At the same time, whatever new approaches are taken, they must align with long-standing traditions and eternal club values, and cannot alienate either long-term employees or long-standing members, or worse, miss the bottom-line objectives.
As a company, the RCS Hospitality Group believes in building upon the traditions of the past while remaining fully attuned to the realities of the present. The blending of state-of-the-art approaches to club management with the long-standing traditions of the club experience is the only way to remain relevant and viable in the future. We understand that this business is built on integrity and lasting relationships and we value our network of associates, colleagues, resources, and customers. Every member of our team has day-to-day experience in the club and hospitality industries and we bring that practical know-how to everything we do.
Through teamwork, dedication, and hard work, we have partnered with some of the world's most spectacular facilities and are excited about those we will work with in the future. We hope that includes you!
Whitney Reid Pennell is the founder and president of the award-winning RCS Hospitality Group. She is a published author and widely praised seminar leader, with over 30 years of club operations management and consulting experience. Lucrative and innovative marketing concepts coupled with comprehensive alignment strategies and training programs are Ms. Pennell's trademark.
She has extensive hands-on experience managing multi-million dollar renovations and clubhouse remodeling projects, along with successful new club openings, and is also highly skilled in special event management, successfully crafting and executing events ranging from private banquets to national PGA and LPGA tournaments.
Ms. Pennell is nationally known for expertly facilitating management and staff workshops, and is internationally recognized as an expert in club management. She has been invited to speak to managers around the world sharing new ideas and concepts and her love of club traditions. She has been an invited speaker at the World Conference on Club Management, the Club Managers Association of Europe, the Assistant Club Managers Conference, the Golf Inc. Conference, and at the Business Management Institute International, hosted by St. Andrews in Scotland. Ms. Pennell has also been an invited speaker/educator for numerous CMAA chapters throughout the country presenting varying programs in club management and leadership.
Ms. Pennell received a B.S. degree from New Mexico State University with a Major in Resort/Hotel Operations and a Minor in Business Management.
Jill Garner-Kraft is a skilled operations specialist with vast experience in the golf, club, and food and beverage industry. Since joining RCS in 2002, Jill has provided interim general management, pre-opening planning, operational consulting, and training programs to more than 60 clubs around the world. Jill is also the primary recruiter for RCS and has a vast network of candidates and resources at her disposal. Her passion for health and wellness has led her to complete 15 half-marathons and the Chicago marathon, and become a certified Pure Barre instructor and studio owner. A club member herself, Jill brings a keen understanding of members' needs for health and wellness at their club.
Rachel Carter comes to us with 20 years of professional country club and golf club experience. Recognized as one of the "Most Influential Women in the Club Industry" by Board Room Magazine, Rachel is a contributing writer for trade magazines including Golf Business, Club Director and Board Room Magazine and in a selection panelist for Distinguished Clubs. Most recently, Rachel was Assistant General Manager, Member Services at the prestigious Monterey Peninsula Country Club, Pebble Beach, a Platinum Club of the World (Club Leaders Forum) and Emerald Distinguished Club.A graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno with additional marketing education at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, Rachel brings not only a wealth of knowledge from her professional experience but also an academic perspective to her work.
As a true digital native born in the era of computers, Rachel serves as the marketing and social media specialist for RCS. She comes from a traditional media background in public relations, but quickly found her niche in executing digital media strategies, building brands, and providing social media guidance for businesses both large and small. She delights in being able to be a part of building brand loyalty and telling a company’s story. Rachel has nearly a decade of experience in marketing, advertising and social media strategy; in addition to a background in sales. She holds a degree in Communications Studies from Clemson University and resides in South Carolina with her family.
With a keen eye for numbers and an attention to detail, Shelly is the executive assistant and bookkeeper for RCS. She has 12 years of financial analysis experience and 15 years in the real estate industry, achieving her NC Real Estate Broker license. Shelly has a naturally hospitable personality, showcased during her years as a real estate leasing professional. She holds a B.A. in Communications with a Concentration in Public Relations from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and resides with her family in North Carolina.
Emily Hassel Barber has been a Private Club Manager for the past ten years at private country clubs in Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia, respectively. She has served from Dining Room Manager to Assistant General Manager and everything in between. After graduating with her degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management, Emily served two terms in AmeriCorps, working as a volunteer coordinator for Delaware Seashore State Park. She also spent six months in the Walt Disney World collegiate internship program where she gained valuable customer service skills and training.
Brian Armstrong, RCS's primary recruiter, is a Certified Club Manager with over 17 years of management experience in all types of clubs. While Brian's entrance to the industry began on the course and continued as he worked his way up through the PGA program, his knowledge is vast and extends to every other area of the club. This well-rounded expertise combined with a forward-thinking perspective enables Brian to effectively and strategically guide clubs and their Boards into the 21st century while still respecting the traditions of the past. He was elected President of the National Capital Club Manager's Association in 2012 and 2013, served over 5 years on the Board and countless others on various committees, and shares RCS's passion for giving back to the industry.
With over 25 years of experience in the private club industry, Joyce specializes in overall club management and has an extensive background in topics as diverse as Board of Directors management, club politics, finance and budgeting, executive recruiting, transforming the overall hospitality operational experience, and food and beverage service. Joyce is a Certified Club Manager and is the primary trainer for RCS Food & Beverage Boot Camps™. An active CMAA member for over 20 years, she has earned various continuous education certifications including her Level 1 Sommelier Certification, and has won numerous “Idea Fair” awards. Always forward thinking and strategically oriented, she brings an unwavering commitment to customer service to her training and consulting work, and has a particular interest in helping club managers effectively manage younger workers.
Chef Mary Howley is a former Executive Chef of her own catering company, several privately owned country clubs, and fine dining restaurants. She has studied throughout Europe and honed her skills working with a myriad of culinary styles and foods. At RCS, she is the resident culinary consultant providing guidance on menu engineering, overall food & beverage management, back of house operations, and training. She had the honor to serve as research and development chef for Food Unlimited, and held the position of Pastry Chef in two James Beard Dinner Events. Mary has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Maryland Institute, is a Certified Professional Food Service Manager, a certified TIPS trainer, and a member of the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs Association. Mary is passionate about cross-utilization, seasonality, sustainability, and the precious connection between people and food.