Tampa Bay Hotels Spruce Up and Staff Up for Republican National Convention

By Anna M. Phillips, Times Staff Writer | In Print: Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Like hotelsand resorts around the Tampa Bay area, it is spending money on decor and entertainment equipment, in hopes that the investments will pay off when the flood of delegates arrives.


For other hotels, preparing for the Republican National Convention is less about creating a red-hot beach party atmosphere than handling the flow of visitors, but that still means spending money, particularly on staff.

“We’re adding additional servers, bartenders, wait staff, that kind of thing,” said Bob Sauerwine, director of sales for the Holiday Inn at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, where both the Colorado and New Mexico delegations are staying.

Sauerwine’s delegates will likely go elsewhere for evening festivities, so he and his staff are preparing breakfast events and training the new hires.

“We’re going to be so busy,” he said, “which is unlike this time of year.”

Anna M. Phillips can be reached at aphillips@tampabay.com


RNC Tampa 2012 to Make ‘A Splash’ in Clearwater, Florida

Screen shot 2012-06-07 at 1.09.22 PM

Looking at a map of the hotels that are housing delegates for the Republican National Convention, two trends stand out: They are either in or near downtown Tampa where the convention will take place, or they are near one of Pinellas County’s white-sand beaches.

Except for two.

Walk out the door of the Holiday Inn St. Petersburg/Clearwater Airport or the nearby St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater, and you are miles from the nearest beach and even farther from the convention’s epicenter, the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Bob Sauerwine

Bob Sauerwine, Director of Sales for the Holiday Inn at the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Airport, which will be hosting the delegates from Colorado and New Mexico, agreed.

The Holiday Inn is just as close to the museums of downtown St. Petersburg as it is to the Florida Aquarium in downtown Tampa.

Just because his hotel is a bit further away from the convention, that doesn’t mean it won’t see plenty of action from visitors.

“The economic impact (of the convention) is on the whole area,” Sauerwine said.

source: RNC Hotel Locations:
“It’s Not All About Beaches and Proximity”

By Elizabeth Behrman, Times Staff Writer

A Note from our General Manager:

“Listening to our guests”

By Shawn Stan, General Manager

Holiday Inn St. Petersburg/Clearwater Int’l Airport

While we worked to improve the guest perception in 2011, we realized the limited number of channels our guests had for direct contact with hotel managers. Because we felt our guests may be having difficulty with sharing concerns with certain staff members, we needed a direct way for our guests to contact hotel management all hours of the day and not just during business hours. We needed a better opportunity to capture the guest feedback before it made it to web sites such as TripAdvisor or Guest Relations. We also wanted to ensure that our guests are satisfied before leaving the hotel.

Shawn Stan, C.H.A., General Manager

One solution we discovered is a direct phone number to the hotel Manager-on-Duty. We are using Google Voice to make this seamless. This option allows a single direct phone number to be shared by multiple managers and directed to the appropriate manager at the appropriate time. It also allows any messages left by our guests to be text or e-mailed to the appropriate staff, such as the General Manager.

Another timely solution is a direct web address that we provide to our guests to share experiences directly with the General Manager. This solution allows the guest to remain anonymous, while still sharing the important information we need to resolve problems within our hotel. This honest and unfiltered feedback is important when making decisions about service and hotel operations.

We look forward to the opportunities that these channels open to us in 2012. We hope that this information only helps us make the Holiday Inn St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport the very best hotel in the Tampa Bay area.

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Holiday Inn Designs Dynamic Social Section

There are over 1,200 Holiday Inn hotels worldwide. It’s a trusted brand, one that manages to balance reliable business amenities with reasonable rates. While this combination is certainly popular amongst its clientele, let’s face it, the Holiday Inn brand is not very sexy, even if it is known as “America’s Favorite Hotel.” So, you might find it interesting that, as part of an overhaul of its hotels, a rather innovative new concept space, called “The Hub,” was introduced.

This year, the Holiday Inn St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport introduced the 24-hour gathering space guests are calling “The Atrium.” This frequent area combines the communal spirit of an informal meeting space with perks such as a lobby sports bar and restaurant, “Aviator’s” — complete with big screens, pool table, darts and signature cocktails — free Wifi and Chef offerings until later in the evening.

The Atrium is a 2,000-square-foot space with high ceilings and skylights that integrates social, dining and working environments. It’s built with the intention of getting guests out of their rooms. And the interior is not what you’d expect. Imagine an urban-oriental theme colliding with art deco couches and moveable tables and seating: It’s modern, clean and spacious.

Guests can watch the news on the plasma TV that hangs on the breakfast seating area, or they can be productive in the “Bamboo Room,” a designated round table seating 8 persons within a secluded bamboo half wall. Lose tables and chairs within the Atrium provide ample workspace and business center amenities. We can only hope this means that gone are the days of closet-sized business centers located on empty hotel room floors.

In Social Media, The Holiday Inn St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport (“PIE” airport code) has its own Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/HolidayInnPIE) and Aviator’s Sports Pub with their own (http://www.facebook.com/AviatorsSportsPub) While exploring the hotel’s photo gallery on Facebook, guests can post their own travel stories and contribute to the conversation. Contests, games and other interactive feeds will be posted in 2012.

Kemmons Wilson, Jr. was one of the first people in the company tapped to contribute a story online. He’s the President and Chairman of the Board of the Wilson Hotel Management Company and son of Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson. “From the first personal connections made at check-in to its online communications, it’s clear the Holiday Inn brand understands that listening to guests’ stories drives innovation and service,” he said.

Holiday Inn’s Bells are Ringing for Corporate Holiday Season

* It’s that time of year again and Holiday Inn St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport is ready to take on the challenges of your corporate holiday planning. While space is a must for any company party, this hotel has over 4,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, revamped and modern for your approval. Planning your own party can be stressful because you want all your guests to have a great time and talk about how wonderful it was for months afterwards.

So how do you plan a great party? We’ve got a few useful tips to help you plan your best holiday party ever!

1. Start planning now. Give yourself plenty of time to plan and organize. For government organizations, the new year begins October 1st, so you must get a venue reserved and budget established by Oct. 31st. Having the time to check out lots of vendors helps you find the best for the right price and availability.

2. Visualize your party. What do you want your party to look like? Pick a theme and decide on decorations, if any. Is this an annual party that most guests expect the same treatment as the prior year? Try to use an elegant approach if the party involves people in their 50s, compared to a more modern, upbeat status with 30-year-olds.

3. Details. Ask yourself: How many guests? What kind of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages do you wish to provide? Is there a band playing or a DJ? Are you providing games or other Holiday entertainment? Is it formal or informal? Are children coming to the party? If so, what ages?

4. Budget. Take the party you’ve visualized and begin to create a realistic plan. Your budget may not allow you to have everything you’ve visualized for your party so you may have to prioritize. Make a list of what you feel you absolutely have to have for your party. Is it a DJ? …Live band? …Great food? …A full bar? Your budget may require you to downsize on guests or have a buffet rather than a sit down dinner but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a memorable party.

5. Invitations. Once you’ve decided on your guest list get your invitations out as soon as possible. Start a Facebook Event page or make decorative flyers to spread the word. Make your invitations according to the theme of your party and make notes if they should bring a small gift, etc. You need to give your guests ample time to RSVP so you can get an accurate guest count. Having an accurate guest count to provide for vendors is important to you staying within your budget.

6. Create a timeline of events. This list should include communication to your venue planner on the topics: When does the banquet food and dessert arrive? What time do you want the band to begin playing? Who is the confirmed entertainment of the party? Write a list of everything definite and enjoy yourself the day of the party!

Best of luck from the Holiday Inn and happy holiday party planning!


Holiday Inn Site “Sky-Rockets”

Holiday Inn Website

Competing in the travel market on Ulmerton Road in Clearwater, Florida, the Holiday Inn St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport has launched an independent website on Monday, September 26, 2011.

With sharp images and bold colors, the Holiday Inn’s new site is coded in XHTML, CSS, Javascript and JQuery, which can be viewed on any iPhone, Android, iPad and Blackberry.

The focus of this website is to generate more internet-savvy clientele and dedicate Search Engine Optimization (SEO) hits over their hotel competitors in the Carillon area. Unlike the standard display of hotel brand websites, Holiday Inn hopes to enhance the customer’s experience and interactive time spent on each page, generating more booking nights and social awareness.

General Manager of Holiday Inn, Bob Sauerwine, commented, “We have everything a traveler would want; Great rates, completely remodeled floor plan and a friendly staff. This hotel just needed a website that could portray all of that.”

This project took an entire staff contributing to content, all new photography of the hotel and a lot of planning to complete. Holiday Inn’s management company, H.I. Development, assigned Creative Marketing Manager Adrianne Robert to complete the independent website after the hotel struggled with Google hits and Internet traffic from their brand website.

After the September 23rd debut of the Warner Brother’s film “Dolphin Tale,” the Holiday Inn St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport expects to gather more room nights from visitors staying near the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to Winter the dolphin.

“While the movie is hot, our hotel needed this extra boost to make us stand apart from the crowd of other hotels in the area,” states Kim Cason, Area Director of Sales for H.I. Development. “We know this website is more impressive for our target market.”

Website: www.TheClearwaterHotel.com