Mr. Villaverde

Sales & Marketing

Do Hotel Industry Awards Really Matter?: Employee Satisfaction

By Alan Villaverde, Vice President & General Manager, Peabody Orlando

In part one of this series, I discussed the importance of hotel industry awards and why I believe they are of the utmost importance. There was a time when the awards themselves were not too highly regarded because it seemed just about any hotel could get a four-star or four-diamond rating.

That was then. It is very, very different now. Today's hotel awards are highly prized and are increasingly difficult to win. They represent an independent, public acknowledgment of our efforts to produce consistent, top-level service across the board, from check-in to check-out. This is how we nurture repeat business.

I recently conducted a study of the awards we have earned at The Peabody Orlando, and it seems that we have won just about every one of them. We have our coveted Mobil Travel Guide Four Star, our Triple AAA Four Diamond, Wine Spectator, DiRoNa, The Ivy Award, and so on.

What is the process for winning these awards?

Well, in the case of Mobil Travel Guide and AAA, DiRoNa and the Ivy Award, we are evaluated just as every other hotel or restaurant is evaluated: by professional inspectors, and travel journalists who take their job very seriously. In the case of the Ivy Award, from Restaurants & Institutions magazine, one must be nominated by a previous winner of this most prestigious award.

How are these awards won?

These awards are won because of the dedication, soul and spirit of our hotel staff. They are some of the world's most outstanding, dedicated and professional hotel staffers who live, breathe and work to provide a level of service that is way beyond anything anyone could expect. We are fortunate that our Peabody Service Excellence(R) culture, which won the AH&LA Outstanding Guest Services award, provides an on-going, in-depth course of mandatory training in the tenets and aspirations of what Peabody guest service actually means.

Every month, every quarter, and every year, Peabody hotels in Orlando, Memphis and Little Rock announce their winners in a variety of categories, from "Beyond the Call of Duty," "Team Effort," "Random Acts of Kindness," to "Peabody Service Excellenc(R)," and "Safety Award." This recognition bodes well for the winners in that their colleagues are proud of the recognition for their department. But, it also challenges others to aspire to the same level of excellence their winning colleagues have reached.

But, there are some very, very important employee awards to be won, outside of the hotel, out in the local, regional and national hospitality world. Fostering as we do the type of Peabody commitment to the spirit and meaning of "hospitality," small wonder our employees excel themselves to such a degree that they earn the admiration, respect and acknowledgment by their industry peers.

Awards and accolades won by our employees are every bit as important as the hotel industry awards for overall hotel service, facilities and amenities. There can be no greater honor for a hotel general manager, than to host a table of employees from all over the world at an industry event, and to hear their names announced as winners of so many different awards. These have ranged from best bellman, best steward, to best concierge, best laundry attendant, best manager, best F+B manager, best front office clerk, best housekeeper, outstanding security officer of the year, (local and state), outstanding administrative employee, local and state.

We cherish our employees who work in the heart of the house. Our stewards, most of them from Haiti, are some of the most diligent, decent people I have ever met. Their work is a source of great personal pride to each and every one of them, and truly is the foundation of our hotel's daily activities. They are the hidden hub that runs like a smoothly tuned engine in the belly of a ship, unseen, but a vital component in keeping the ship afloat and functional.

It was a great day for us when one of our laundry attendants won a major award from the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association and went on to win the State award, too. She was waiting for the bus at the hotel, and overhead two men discussing how they were going to break, enter and steal at another hotel up the road. She returned to the hotel, called Peabody Security, who called the police, and the two men were apprehended, charged and sent to prison.

Many of our employees have won industry awards for their contributions to the community, and to the betterment of the education of young and upcoming hotel workers. Others have been recognized for taking on extra curricular studies to help them grow their careers in the industry. Many are honored in their community because they bring their Peabody Service Excellence(R) values along with them, and teach their friends and neighbors how to provide help and support to others, through PSE(R) values.

Our chefs also make headlines when they win awards at professional culinary events and are named among the winners in local magazines. It is well worth the time and effort that goes into such competitions and the kudos won by our chefs spurs them on to higher levels of performance and achievement.

On the managerial side, Peabody managers, too, have excelled in the industry awards nominations, winning local, regional and national awards and recognition for their extraordinary professional hotel achievements. These awards have been won through such industry bodies as the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, the Florida State Hotel & Motel Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Countless awards have been won for hospitality PR excellence from HSMAI, Florida State Hotel & Motel Association, and other professional bodies; our convention and catering manager has won the Florida State Hotel & Motel Association award for best charity special event. Our executive steward won best manager and the list goes on and on.

When these industry awards are won, it is essential and imperative that the hotel publicizes them. A good hospitality PR person can quickly create a press release and photo and place text-and-photo in those publications that are of importance to your business. Don't forget those small, local community rags, as well as the broadsheets, tabloids and your hotel employee newsletter and website.

Finally, these industry awards publicly establish our hotel as a winning place to work and grow a career. Along with the awards, particularly in the case of our winning managers and heads of departments, there comes an invitation to participate in "hotel industry panel" events, where our expertise can be beneficial to up-and-comers in the business. This type of involvement in our hospitality community can only mean good things for our hotel and once again, makes me believe that hotel industry awards really do matter.

Alan Villaverde is VP and GM of the Peabody Orlando, and VPO for the Peabody Group. When he joined The Peabody Orlando he came from a similar position with the Stouffer Orlando Resort. Villaverde is also VPO for The Peabody Little Rock and The Peabody Memphis. He was honored as Maryland Hotelier of the Year, named Peabody Hotel Groupís Top General Manager, Central Florida Hotelier of the Year, State of Florida GM of the Year, and American Hotel & Motel Associationís Outstanding GM of the Year. In 2000, he was one of The Orlando Business Journal's 100 Most Influential People. Mr. Villaverde can be contacted at 407-345-4543 or avillaverde@peabodyorlando.com Extended Bio...

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