Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

The Last Word

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

The Last Word

Article excerpt

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., is one of the few for-profit historical properties in the United States. We do not receive any federal or state funding. We are in our third, fourth, and fifth generations of being family-owned by descendants of George Vanderbilt. I know that we have to make a profit in order to preserve the estate, and I know we've got to keep our property in pristine condition, and I know that we've got to offer world-class customer service in order to get people to come back. We provide Vanderbilt-style hospitality to each of our guests during their visit with us.

I grew up about an hour from here. My family has pictures of me running behind the scenes at Biltmore when I was 6 years old. They took a picture of me getting into one of the large fireplaces, which I wasn't supposed to do.

The diversity of the business is amazing. We host 1.2 million visitors annually, we have a four-diamond hotel, and we have world-class food and beverage. We have retail. We have a forestry program and a working farm, and we operate a vineyard. There's a real breadth to the business.

The ability to find the answer to anything immediately is one of the greatest innovations, whether it's researching it on the internet or downloading a book and getting the answer you want. Going back in time, if you were researching a topic, you went to the library or the bookstore. Now it is so easy to get access to that information. With that great invention, it's so easy to get overwhelmed with the urgent as opposed to the important.

The biggest way I've become more efficient is figuring out you can only do one thing at a time. You can't multitask. You can task-switch, but you have to be very present in anything you're doing. …

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