On April 22, the Greater Toronto Hotel Association (GTHA) presented the fifth annual Spirit Awards, a ceremony that recognizes the tireless efforts of front line staff at hotels across Toronto and the GTA. Nominees in 18 different categories, including housekeeping room attendant, valet driver, laundry and steward of the year, are chosen by their peers. More than 500 attendees attended the luncheon celebrations, which were hosted by Kevin Frankish of City TV’s Breakfast Television. Here, GTHA president and CEO Terry Mundell shares more about the history of the Spirit Awards, its evolution and what it means to the organization’s 32,000-strong membership to be assisting visitors during their stay in Toronto.
Where: How did the Spirit Awards come about?
Terry Mundell: The Spirit Awards was developed from a discussion that originated with our association Board of Directors. The intent of the event was to recognize and show our appreciation to those front of the line ambassadors that provide an exceptional visitor experience, which leaves a lasting impression on the over 14 million overnight visitors to the Greater Toronto Area.
Where: How are the winners determined?
TM: The judging panel is made up of five individuals who include event sponsors, industry partners and representatives from the Spirit Awards committee. The judges review the nominations prior to the event and grade them based on a variety of criteria including, but not limited to, a can-do attitude, delivering that exceptional customer experience, and passion for their team and property that drives return visitors.
Where: What are the most common qualities of nominees?
TM: Passion. For these exceptional ambassadors in the hotel community, it’s all about the passion they have for the visitors they greet, their team members and their property.
Where: Why do you think the recognition means so much?
TM: These front of the line exceptional ambassadors are being recognized among hundreds of other nominees at the event to celebrate the best of the best our industry has to offer; just to be nominated gives them so much pride.
Where: What is your favourite aspect of the Spirit Awards each year?
TM: After the winner is announced, they proceed to have their photo taken with myself and the award sponsor. Seeing this ambassador moments after they’ve accepted their award is incredible: the excitement, the pride and pure joy they express is an experience in itself.
Where: What do you look forward to the most at this event?
TM: Talking to the nominees, getting a chance to say hi and thanking them for everything they do for our industry.