Tasha Mahurin discusses Knoxville’s hospitality industry and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce with Hampton Inn & Suite’s general manager Anita Lane.
Last week we discussed Knoxville tourism with Mayor Tim Burchett. As someone inside the industry, what brings people specifically to Downtown Knoxville for an overnight stay? (i.e business , sports, recreation)
Truly, all of the above are good business draws for our Downtown hotel. We’re blessed to be located right between the University of Tennessee and the Downtown business district so we have a bit of all of the above mentioned during the normal year. We are primarily a business hotel during the week and then host a bit of group business on the weekends such as weddings, sports groups, event groups, etc.
What sets Hampton Inn & Suites apart from other downtown hotels?
A number of things make us different in our market. For starters we’re a small hotel with 85 guest rooms so we’re able to deliver a level of service that many consider to be more individualized. We’re also the first Green certified hotel in Knoxville so you know we care about our community. We’re the only hotel with microwaves and refrigerators in every guest room and we’re also the only hotel with Whirlpool suites in Downtown Knoxville. 30 of our 85 guest rooms are actually studio suites so we can offer more room to accommodate families or folks who just like to spread out a bit more. Finally as a focus service hotel we are all running the hotel together as a team so any member of our Hampton family can help you with any question or concern you may have. We like to say we’re in the hospitality industry not the hotel business and we try to live that out as a hotel family every day.
You were recently appointed to the board of Visit Knoxville. What do you hope to contribute to Visit Knoxville and their mission to promote the area?
Since our first actual board meeting isn’t until next week it’s hard to know yet what work needs to be done to support Visit Knoxville. My hope is that we’ll learn more about that work from our Board chair, Bo Conner and the organization president, Kim Bumpas, in our first meeting. As far as the overall mission is concerned I think it will be easy to help contribute since I spend a large part of my day talking to folks who AREN’T from Knoxville. I trust that once I know what work needs to be done I’ll be able to find a part of that work which I can be passionate about.
Speaking of promotion, you also now chair the membership committee for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of East Tennessee. Give our readers an idea of the scope of the Hispanic business community in our area, and opportunities that exist within the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Quoting specifically from our HCCET material I can tell you this… “According to a recent study released by the University of Tennessee, Tennessee has the third fastest growing Hispanic population in the country and represents one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the United States. Latinos represent 4.6 percent of Tennessee’s population, according to the 2010 census, up from 2.2 percent in 200. Even though the growth rate was very high, the number of Hispanic persons is still much lower than the national average 16.3 percent. This growth has driven a sharp increase in the number of Hispanic owned businesses. These businesses have been drivers of job growth in a difficult economy and represent one of the best opportunities for new jobs in the Region. HCCET has a great opportunity to support and promote Hispanic businesses and forge strategic relationships between Hispanic and mainstream businesses and government agencies seeking minority vendors, subcontractors and employees.”
I would like to submit that I have actually agreed to Co-chair this membership committee with a long-standing member of both the Hispanic and business community, Mario Navarro. Mario owns and operates several businesses in this area and is in fact, opening a new restaurant in West Knoxville next week. His new Shrimp, Oysters and Beer restaurant is yet another example of a small business owner who has chosen to invest in our great community.
What I love about organizations such as HCCET is that folks like Mario and I have the opportunity not only to get to know each other and support each other’s businesses but that we can work together toward a common goal of expanding this amazing organization and creating new relationships within our community.
Is community involvement something you’ve always been passionate about or has your career led to community involvement?
The latter would be more true to my story. I’ve always felt strongly about service and really believe that if we all serve each other then the world is made a better place but it wasn’t until I worked in the hospitality industry that I got to live and breathe service every day. I was actually sort of “raised” professionally by Ken and Tammy Knight who currently run the Crowne Plaza hotel so I had great professional examples of folks who believed in giving back. When I took this position about 4 ½ years ago I stepped into a situation where I have an owner in Shailesh Patel who also believes in giving back so he has encouraged me to participate in leadership programs and develop skills that will allow me to serve the larger community. I wake up every morning feeling blessed to have an amazing family, specifically a fantastic husband and two really special kiddos, and to have had support from so many people to reach this point in my career. I am blessed to be the leader of 25 of the best folks you could ever meet in your life and showing up and developing them is a both a privilege and a responsibility that I take to heart. When you have this many blessings in your life it’s the most natural thing in the world to be passionate about serving the community and contributing to helping others.