Holiday Inn Express, located at 114 Tulsa Road, is the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce’s June 2022 Small Business of the Month. The award is sponsored by Enrichment Federal Credit Union.
When you think of a small business, the Holiday Inn Express might not immediately come to mind. But, according to Heather Brown, sales manager at the hotel, there are only 20 employees on staff at the hotel. “We are independently owned and operated by a small hotel management company.”
Heather says what makes the company so special are the people who work there. “We have pretty good longevity with our staff.” According to Heather, general manager Joe Valentino follows the golden rule of the hospitality industry: be good to your team and they will be good to your customers. “We have a family more than a staff. We call it a “hotel team” rather than a “staff”. We have really good people: they care about the hotel and they work really hard.
When asked what makes the Oak Ridge Holiday Inn Express an award-winning hotel, Heather once again pointed the finger at the staff. “It would absolutely be our team. We have a great brand and that drives brand loyalty, but once we’ve fired them, it’s up to us to maintain that trust and loyalty and deliver that magic of hospitality. Our team under promise and on book. They do an exceptional job treating people like family. That’s what sets us apart – the people. We have repeatedly won the Torchbearer Award, which is one of the most prestigious awards you can earn in the IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) brand and sets us apart because of the awards we have won and which are again awarded to such a great team that we have. And this consistency.
The Oak Ridge Holiday Inn Express believes in caring for the community: donating linens and toiletries to the Ecumenical Warehouse, providing hygiene items to the Rotary Club at Christmas for their bags gifts and make financial contributions to organizations like the United Way, according to a news release. They also work to train people who need help entering the job market. “We participate in the special education program at Oak Ridge High School where they have children with special needs who are trying to develop skills to learn about being in the workforce. During school they come twice a week for a few hours and work in our laundry room where we show them how to clean. We also participate in the Ridgeview rehabilitation program. We have one employee working for us right now and we’ve had many over the years trying to re-enter the workforce after going through rehab.
To nominate a company for the award, visit the Chamber’s website at www.oakridgechamber.org. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees are current members in good standing of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce and show community involvement and/or chamber are eligible.