And the Winner is ...
It seems than anywhere you look and in anything you read, people are honoring the best.
As the best and brightest are being recognized in the civilian world, military lodging has also honored its finest with a host of ceremonies that have recently taken place, or will take place during the next few months.
In this issue, we focus on the two top lodging operations in the Air Force — Southern Pines Inn at Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., and Wright-Patterson Inns at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio — that took home the Innkeeper Awards for lodging excellence during ceremonies held in New York last November.
The process by which an Air Force Inn, or any military lodging operation for that matter, earns top honors is an extensive one.
For the Innkeeper, comprehensive checklists have to be followed so that everything is in tip-top shape for the evaluators who ensure that facilities are running at 100 percent and staff members are doing their part to ensure that guests are enjoying their stay.
Once the Innkeeper winners are selected, they earn a trip to New York City to receive their awards and recognition from their peers. We have attended many an Innkeeper Awards ceremony, and there is a common element at each and every one of these presentations that just overwhelms you when the respective lodging winners walk up to the stage to receive their trophies — enthusiasm.
The standing ovations, sheer excitement and joyous expressions displayed when the winners are announced are a feeling that is indescribable. You are the best, and you and your staff have earned the title of “Best Lodging Operation.”
As Southern Pines Inn General Manager Charles Wilson simply put it, “Let's face it, what is higher in the Air Force Lodging world? It's a great feeling to be considered to be the best.”
When we ask the winning managers how they achieved the pinnacle in lodging, they always pay tribute to their employees who work tirelessly each and every day to provide superior customer service for military travelers on official or unofficial orders.
It is truly a team effort — whether it's managers, housekeepers, front-desk staff or maintenance personnel, the collective contributions of each staff member add up to an award-winning facility.
What makes an award-winning lodging operation? Quite simply, it's all about taking care of the customers. Whether travelers are on temporary duty (TDY) or permanent change of station (PCS) orders, or simply enjoying much-needed rest and recuperation from the daily rigors of military life, it's that smile, or that “Can I help you?” that really makes a difference to a guest who may have traveled thousands of miles to stay at your lodge.
That “welcome mat” you provide makes that soldier, airman, sailor, Marine or coastguardsman, as well as their families, feel that they will be treated to an award-winning lodging experience from an award-winning staff.
The heck with the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards, it's lodging award season. On the heels of the Air Force Innkeeper Awards, Navy Gateway Inns and Suites (NGIS) honors its top lodging operations and staff members later this month in Fort Worth, Texas, with the Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt Awards presentations. Next month, the Navy Lodge Program presents the Carlson Awards in Miami for excellence in operations and customer service.
Army Lodging, Marine Corps Lodging and Coast Guard Lodging honor their top performers later in the year.
Of course, you don't need an actual lodging award to show that you are the best at what you do. You are all winners, in our opinion.