News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Timothy Boone, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Nov. 23, 2003 - BILOXI , Miss.-- Gwendolyn Perez hasn't worked in the hotel industry long, but she's already received the state's top honor for her work.
Perez, a sales coordinator for Beau Rivage, was named the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association's 2003 Outstanding Employee of the Year. The 27-year-old native of Winchester, Ky., has worked at the Biloxi casino for almost three years and the lodging department since March 2002.
A former Marine, Perez is married to Marine Staff Sgt. George Perez, who is stationed at Keesler Air Force Base. She is the mother of two sons, Brandon, 6, and Justin, 4.
Perez said hotel guests should keep an open mind about how the business works. "It's not always the front desk person who did the reservation wrong," she said. "There's a lot of people in the background that you don't come in contact with that might have misplaced something."
Next for Perez is competing for Beau Rivage's employee of the year. She's one of 12 finalists for the honor, which will be presented in March.
QUESTION: What are the keys to working in the hotel industry?
ANSWER: The big one is customer service. Empathy is also important. If you were on the other side, what kind of expectations would you have?
Q: One of the reasons you got the award was for how you handled the 125th National Guard General Conference, which was in Biloxi this fall. Were there any sort of special challenges?
A: The biggest challenge was that individuals contacted us and we had to make the reservations. There were almost 900 reservations that I had to make. And then they all kept on changing. There were changes of dates and cancellations.
Q: What do you credit your work focus to?
A: The way I was brought up. A big thing was that you do your job the best you can.
Q: Was it a surprise to win the award?
A: It was an absolute surprise. Wendy (Priesand, assistant director of group sales at the hotel) and Mike (Davis, assistant director of convention sales) called me in her office and asked me to go to this dinner because Mike won an award. So I said, "Oh yeah, that's great, I'll go." Then Wendy asked that my husband come along. I thought that was a little strange, but it didn't really cross my mind. We get to the dinner and they mention all the awards they're going to be presenting, and I'm thinking "Wonder which one Mike is going to win?" They get to the employee of the year award and they say "Gwendolyn." My name is not that common, so I was wondering how many "Gwendolyns" were in here. And then they said "Perez" and I was dumbfounded. I was excited, surprised, it was amazing. I didn't even know I was nominated.
Q: What are your goals?
A: To move into management. I want to participate in the supervisory development program, which is an in-house, cross-training program for employees.
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(c) 2003, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. MGG,