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Key deadline for small hotels is Thursday (Sun Sentinel)

By Arlene Satchell, Sun SentinelMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

April 11--Thursday is the last day for small hotels and inns in Broward County to request an inspection as part of the qualification process for 2013-14 Superior Small Lodging designation.

The designation is awarded to qualifying lodgings with 50 rooms or less who score at least 82 percent on the inspection and meet other criteria established by Hollywood nonprofit Florida Superior Small Lodging Association (FSSL).

Properties are inspected and selected based on their cleanliness, personalized service and charm and participation in the SSL program is an "earned privilege," according to the association's website superiorsmalllodging.com.

Longtime SSL member Elaine Fitzgerald, president and CEO of Beach Vacation Rentals submitted requests for her five Pompano Beach properties earlier this year after receiving renewal notices.

For Fitzgerald membership in the SSL program is a no brainer.

"It's the biggest bang for the buck that I can get as a small innkeeper," said Fitzgerald, referring to the advertising, marketing and public relations benefits of being part of the SSL brand.

Fitzgerald can track the exposure her properties receive from free listings on the SSL and Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau websites, another membership perk. "I get a lot of click-throughs from these websites."

This year, annual dues for current members range between $255 and $750 depending on number of rooms at the property and includes the $100 inspection fee, FSSL Executive Director Donna Boucher said Wednesday.

The association's mission includes ensuring uniform quality standards for member properties, high guest satisfaction, and helping to boost year-round occupancy and daily rates.

Dues and fees help fund the association's programs and website, added Boucher, a 21-year hotel owner, who operates the 12-apartment Manta Ray Inn in Hollywood.

"There are a lot of financial benefits to [members]," said Boucher, noting that the property inspections expose owners to best practices that can elevate their housekeeping standards. Membership also gives property owners access to marketing initiatives they couldn't afford on their own.

So far three new properties have expressed interest in attaining Superior Small Lodging status this year said Boucher. "We expect to be around 60 properties in 2013-2014."

The 57 properties in the county that currently hold SSL status are spread mostly across Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Lauderdale-By-the Sea and Deerfield Beach, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Superior Small Lodgings 2013 directory.

Unannounced independent inspections for renewing SSL members begin in May and those who re-qualify and pay their dues, will receive a free listing in the CVB's 2014 Superior Small Lodging directory, as well as on the association's website, Boucher said.

Superior Small Lodging members in Broward will also get a free listing on the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB's website sunny.org, and can also join Visit Florida, the state's marketing arm, at a discounted rate.

Members also receive a SSL sign to display at their properties.

"Travelers are "guaranteed a certain quality and standard of property," when they see the SSL sign, said Boucher.

asatchell@tribune.com, 954-356-4209 or Twitter@TheSatchreport.

___

(c)2013 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services



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