News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Dawn Bryant, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 5, 2004 - HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- A Grand Strand hotel technician is the top tourism worker in the state, picking up the award and praise from industry leaders Wednesday.
Eddie Williams, who keeps the machinery working smoothly at the Hampton Inn-48th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach, is the kind of hard-working employee S.C. tourism leaders say they are trying to find more of.
Williams received a standing ovation from about 500 leaders when he picked up the award during the final day of the Governor's Conference on Tourism and Travel.
Attendees spent much of the three-day conference emphasizing the need to improve customer service in tourism, the state's top industry, generating $14.4 billion annually.
"Everything we've talked about comes down to those front-line employees. Eddie embodies everything we've talked about," said Chad Prosser, director of the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
Williams has worked in the industry for 15 years, 10 at the Hampton Inn. He plans to hang the plaque naming him S.C.'s Hospitality Employee of the Year in the hotel's lobby.
Williams says he's just doing his job.
"There's a lot of good people besides me who deserve this," he said. "I'm shocked. It's great."
Williams makes sure the hotel's amenities are in shape for the guests, doing tasks such as routine maintenance on the bathtubs and repairing damage.
He also will take extra pillows to guests, add more doughnuts to the breakfast bar or help a wheelchair-bound guest get out of bed. He's showed up on his day off to help unload luggage for bus tour groups and pitches in at the front desk if extra help is needed.
His positive attitude is what makes him stand out, hotel manager JoAnne Brown said.
"He definitely deserves it with all the hard work he has done," she said.
Williams' co-worker, front desk receptionist Shonda Riggins, was the state's top hospitality employee in 2001.
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(c) 2004, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. HLT,