75 – TMG Hospitality Heroes Part I

by | May 20, 2021

In part 1 of 2 of this special edition of the Suite Spot, we take a moment to recognize stories of resilience and excellence in hospitality throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Host Ryan Embree highlights some incredible hospitality professionals across the country and what they did to make them a hospitality hero during this trying time for our industry. This a feel-good episode that showcases the qualities and values that are at the heart of the hotel industry.

Episode Transcript
Our podcast is produced as an audio resource. Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and human editing and may contain errors. Before republishing quotes, we ask that you reference the audio.

Ryan Embree:
Welcome to Suite Spot where hoteliers check-in, and we check out what’s trending in hotel marketing. I’m your host, Ryan Embree. Hello everyone. And thank you for listening to Travel Media Group’s hotel marketing podcast, the Suite Spot. Today, we have an extremely cool episode: one of, if not the best episodes that we’ve had yet on this podcast, I’m extremely excited to share it with you all today. This is something that we’ve been working on here at Travel Media Group over the past month. And it was an idea brought up because of the difficult times that the hotel industry had in 2020. We have been on the other side of so many great stories from our customers about resiliency and their ability to adapt on the fly. And we thought that it would be so cool to take a moment and just recognize those hoteliers and hospitality professionals out there that just went above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting these stories of resiliency and excellence in hospitality, even in the toughest of times.

Ryan Embree:
So what we’re going to do today is we’re going to name some of these Hospitality Heroes and tell their stories on this podcast. Like I said, I’m very excited and we’ve got a bunch of Hospitality Heroes out there. So let’s go ahead and get started. The first Hospitality Hero that we’re going to highlight today is Crystal Thompson, Assistant General Manager at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Alliance. Now Crystal was nominated by Jenna and Jenna writes: “Crystal Thompson was my sole employee during the beginning of the pandemic and has went above and beyond to help the hotel thrive throughout the entire ordeal. She has stepped in and covered any shifts that needed to be covered, changed her schedule completely around to accommodate the hotel and has done way more than is expected of her in all departments.” And this is a trend that we’re going to hear for almost all of these stories. Hoteliers, just getting out of their comfort zone, covering shifts, working late nights, doing extra things and wearing different hats around the property because essentially they were forced to during this time where staffing was really cut down to a minimum.

Ryan Embree:
Our next hospitality hero is Diane M. Saumell. She’s the General Manager at the Coakley and Williams La Quinta Inn and Suites by Wyndham Orlando IDrive Theme Parks. And Diana was nominated by Ken Shore. Ken writes, “Diana has been an amazing leader during the pandemic hospitality crisis. She’s managed guests’ expectations along with preserving associate jobs and managing cash flow to where we have not had to ask the owners for any additional working capital. Her guest’s comment scores were amazing during the pandemic where her property exceeded the brand averages.” So this is so impressive to see that brand scores and reputation was exceeded during this extremely difficult time. We’ve talked about the importance of getting reviews during the COVID-19 pandemic and how difficult it was and how the guest’s expectations were an all-time high, not just for a comfortable experience, but for their safety and health.

Ryan Embree:
Now Ken Shore also nominates another Hospitality Hero: Carla Selph, General Manager at Coakley and Williams Days Inn and Suites by Wyndham Lake Okeechobee. “Carla has been an amazing leader throughout the pandemic. She has supported her team working every position in the hotel, including housekeeping and laundry. She is first to ensure her team and guests have what is needed to ensure we exceed our guests’ expectations. This is an older property, which requires a lot of quote-unquote, tender love and care, but the team spirit never allows it to get in the way of ensuring the guests are happy. This is due to Carla’s leadership.” And it’s stories like this: this is what hospitality is all about. Helping travelers during a time of need.

Ryan Embree:
Our next Hospitality Hero is Michael Codianne, Director of Operations at Coakley and Williams, nominated by Ken Shore. Ken writes: “Michael took over the entire hotel operation just prior to the pandemic in February, 2020. Michael could have easily said no, or cannot do it. He did not. He has run this beach front resort through the pandemic. It’s a condominium hotel resort. So Mike has managed multiple owners along with guests’ expectations while preserving jobs and ensuring projects are being maintained.” And it’s funny, we’ve talked to multiple people who started either right prior to, or even during the pandemic when it’s some of the most difficult times that the hotel industry has seen in decades. Michael’s resilience in the story has really shown.

Ryan Embree:
Our next Hospitality Hero is Mark Mahoney, General Manager at the Coakley and Williams DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Baltimore North – Pikesville, nominated by Ken Shore. Ken writes: “Mark has been amazing during the pandemic changing from a full-service hotel with meeting space, renovating that space guest bathrooms while changing 30% of his inventory to extended suite to support managing, working capital and preserving associates jobs. This took a lot of leadership planning and follow-up. Mark continues to drive positive guest comments and managing expenses throughout.” Wow. What an incredible story of being able to adapt on the fly here. Changing 30% of their inventory to extended suites and hotels had to get creative during this time because the groups and corporate travel really disappeared during the COVID-19 pandemic. So very cool story. And congratulations, Mark.

Ryan Embree:
Our next Hospitality Hero is Jill Pawson Housekeeping Manager at the Dimond Center Hotel. Jill was nominated by Olysee Share. Olysee writes: “Jill is one of the most hard workers I’ve ever met. We had to lay off about 90% of staff due to COVID-19 back in March, 2020. From 20 housekeepers, we could only keep three people that said Jill was put in a situation where she was no longer a housekeeping manager. She was a housekeeper. She’s a Houseman, an inspector. I can not tell you how many times Jill just showed up to work on her day off to assist the team. With travel slowly returning to quote-unquote normal. We’re extremely short-staffed. Jill is consistently motivating her team to do better every day. She’s the first one to show up to the building and the last one to leave. I don’t have enough words to express how grateful we are to have her a part of our team.” Again, another incredible story, even coming in on your day off. So honored to share that story. Thank you so much. And congratulations, Jill.

Ryan Embree:
Our next hospitality hero is Christine Edwards, General Manager at the Equus Inn. Christine was nominated by Pamela Spitzer. Pamela writes: “Christine is an amazing person. Although her title is GM, she’s always willing and able to jump in at the front desk at the moment’s notice. She’s willing to fill in when we’re short staff. And will also jump into our housekeeping department when needed. She doesn’t even shy away from working on our maintenance department. If something needs to get done, she does just that. Christine always gets it done during these hectic times when we’ve been short-staffed or dealing with our total renovation during a pandemic, Christine has been the backbone to this property. Without her, we would have stumbled for sure. If anyone deserves recognition, I believe it should be her.” Awesome story. Christine, it sounds like a lot of hoteliers are getting back to the roots. Maybe some of the front end jobs where a lot of hoteliers got their start at the front desk, maybe a bellman housekeeping staff maintenance department. A lot of these stories are all talking about wearing those different hats. And again, getting back to the root of hospitality.

Ryan Embree:
Our next Hospitality Hero is Julie Pellham, Catering Manager at the Holiday Inn and Suites Springfield I-44. Julie is nominated by Shelley Coakland, and Shelly writes, “Julie never missed a beat. Even when the hotel reduced staffing to four people, she quickly learned to clean rooms, established comp breakfast and kept the hotel going. She easily transitions during a management change. She lost her DoS just before the pandemic and was left solo in the sales department. She learned all sorts of new skills, including how to submit bits, book rooms, LNRs et cetera.” And I love stories like this because it really demonstrates the opportunities that are sometimes presented to us during these difficult times. Julie, being able to just learn different skills during the pandemic, and hopefully it serves her for the rest of her time in that position.

Ryan Embree:
Our next Hospitality Hero is Jenna Blake General Manager at Coakley and Williams Hotel Management Company. Jenna is nominated by Lori Beth Holt. Lori Beth writes, “Jenna Blake continues to excel at our Holiday Inn Express Alliance and is so respected in her community and in the market that her reputation in this market continues to outperform and her passion and dedication continue to exceed our expectations. She joined the Coakley Williams family in September, despite having four children and herself who contracted COVID-19 at different times, Jenna succeeded in continuing to have over 150% RevPAR and occupancy index increasing her ADR to 100% all while being quarantined, having to work remotely at times and having less than five employees, her leadership style is beyond impressive and is nothing less than just one of the many examples of how Jenna continues to exceed our guests expectations and set the standard of true hospitality.” Wow, incredible statistics. And what an amazing story to hear. You know, I think sometimes it gets lost on our guests that we’re – as hoteliers – are going through this pandemic as well. So to hear stories like this of goals and objectives being met and even exceeded is so cool to hear. Thanks for the nomination.

Ryan Embree:
Our next Hospitality Hero is Mark Janiszewski, General Manager at the Red Coach Inn Niagara Falls, New York. Mark was nominated by Mark Williams. Mark writes, “Mark has done an incredible job leading his team at the Red Coach Inn Niagara falls. They’ve pushed past limited staffing, government restrictions, and setbacks. Yet, despite the challenges the property has had a record-breaking first quarter of 2021, they continue to be number one on TripAdvisor in their market with ongoing excellent guest reviews.” And I think this example really shows the type of recovery that some hotels have put themselves in by the incredible hotel experience that they were offering during such a difficult time. Congratulations, Mark.

Ryan Embree:
This concludes part one of our two-part series: Hospitality Heroes. Stay tuned for our next episode, where we recognize more hospitality employees that went above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks for listening to The Suite Spot and we’ll talk to you next time. To join our loyalty program, be sure to subscribe and give us a five-star rating on iTunes. Suite Spot is produced by Travel Media Group. Our editor is Marissa Kinzel, with cover art by Barry Gordon. I’m your host, Ryan Embree, and we hope you enjoyed your stay.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Suite Spot

 

Listen on Apple Podcasts Button

Listen on Google Podcasts Button

Listen on Soundcloud Button

 

Hotel Marketing Resources

woman on laptop

White Papers

Read in-depth marketing ideas and important industry research.

Man holding phone with headphones on

Webinars

Watch our interactive webinars and sign up for future topics.

76 – Moving Forward with AD1 Global’s Jon McMillian

76 – Moving Forward with AD1 Global’s Jon McMillian

On this special edition of the Suite Spot, we are joined by AD1 Global’s Director of Marketing and e-Commerce, Jon McMillian. Host Ryan Embree interviews Jon and gets his thoughts on the state of the hotel industry today and where we are headed. Jon shares the start...

74 – Prepping Your Hotel For The Busy Season

74 – Prepping Your Hotel For The Busy Season

In this episode of the Suite Spot, we dig into the archives to unveil a never-before-heard episode on how hotels can prep for the busy summer season. Host Ryan Embree is joined by Director of Marketing, Anne Sandoval, to share tips and tricks on how to get the most...

73 – Hotel Industry Q & A on TMG’s Concierge Desk

73 – Hotel Industry Q & A on TMG’s Concierge Desk

In this special edition of the Suite Spot, we announce the launch of a brand new YouTube segment – the TMG Concierge Desk. Host Ryan Embree introduces the new segment and explains how it will serve as a valuable resource for hoteliers. Ryan shares some of the very...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this article with your network!