The Chattanooga Tourism Co. shared that Chattanooga received more awards than any other city in the state during the Stars of the Industry awards at last week’s Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism. These annual awards honor the very best people and organizations throughout Tennessee’s hospitality industry that have provided exemplary service and supported their communities, officials said.
“We are extremely proud of these individuals and their dedication and contributions to the tourism and hospitality industry. This past year was challenging, and they all stepped up and consistently provided exceptional experiences for our guests. They embody the true spirit of hospitality,” said Barry White, Chattanooga Tourism Co. CEO. “We are grateful for organizations like Ruby Falls and Humanist Hospitality for their commitment to creating quality experiences, building a better community and contributing to a sustainable future.
"Congratulations to the following people and organizations on their well-deserved 2021 awards."
• Michael Summerow, Food & Beverage director, Humanist Hospitality’s Hilton Garden Inn/Downtown Chattanooga – Lodging Manager of the Year/Small Property: Michael began his career in hospitality 26 years ago as a dishwasher at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel and has been at the Hilton Garden Inn for the past four. He has always been the ultimate team player making others a priority. During the pandemic, he spent seven days a week working as houseman, processing laundry, cleaning rooms, and preparing and delivering meals to furloughed employees, his elderly neighbors and the community’s front-line workers.
• Hollie Baranick, Tours & Special Projects manager, Ruby Falls – Tourism Manager of the Year: Eighteen years ago, Hollie joined Ruby Falls as a tour guide and during her tenure, a few of her accomplishments include creating award-winning signature events; developed the company mascot Ruby the Dragon; launched an ongoing company-wide customer service curriculum; and in 2020, designed a new guided cave walk to keep guests safe throughout the pandemic.
• Doug Dover, Tour Guide, Ruby Falls – Tourism Employee of the Year: Doug joined Ruby Falls as a tour guide in 2007 and discovered very quickly how much he loved interacting with guests and helping them escape the pressures and worries of daily life while having a unique experience. His dedication is contagious – with his fellow tour guides that he mentors and with customers who consistently rave about the exceptional service he provided them.
• Ruby Falls – Community Service Award/Tourism Property: A favorite destination for 91 years, Ruby Falls is home to the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public in the United States. The organization embraces their social responsibility and impact by investing in their community through collaboration with nonprofit organizations, team volunteerism, in-kind gifts and financial support. They continue to actively seek ways to use their resources to create stronger, more vibrant communities both locally and around country.
• Ruby Falls – Good Earth Keeping Award Nomination/Tourism Property: As the first attraction in the United States to earn certification from Green Globe, the respected worldwide standard for sustainability, Ruby Falls is a leader in tourism sustainability and environmental management practices. Ruby Falls’ pursuit of sustainability and conservation initiatives are centered on land use planning, production of renewable energy and reduction of energy usage, reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, waste reduction, and water conservation.