When Billy Hedden arrives for work every day at Hampton Inn-Anderson, he’s out to engineer the best day possible for everyone. Because he’s one of the friendliest, most authentic, genuinely caring and sincerely thoughtful people within the entire Hampton Inn brand, he earned Hilton Worldwide’s “Spirit of Hampton Award” – the first Paragon Hotel Co. employee ever to win the coveted prize.
The award goes to the Hampton Inn employee – among the brand’s 1,900 properties and 50,000 Team Members worldwide – who personify “Hamptonality.” The term captures every hotel’s approach to friendly customer service, anticipating guests’ needs and providing travelers with helpful suggestions about area attractions, historical facts and fun tidbits.
For Billy, that means taking his work … and his guests and his fellow Team Members … personally. He may be the hotel’s Chief Engineer, but is chief concern, as it has been since he started in 2010, is everyone’s satisfaction.
“When I am taking care of guests, I treat them the way I would want my family treated. When a female guest needs help getting to her car or carrying luggage, I think of my wife and mother and how I would want them taken care of when staying at a hotel. I do my best to meet guests’ needs, and no matter what it is, I try to help them. Seeing their gratitude makes me feel good about myself.
Co-workers cite his never-ending funny stories and silly jokes as day-making smile inducers. Throughout his nearly five years at the 120 Interstate Blvd. property, he also greets all staff members and hotel guests by name, as he works his way from the laundry room to the housekeeping break room to the front desk and back.
That’s the essence of “Hamptonality,” though he’s quick to say: “I was very grateful and fortunate to win the Spirit of Hampton Award, but at the same time feel like I am simply doing my job.”
Joe Freyer quotes Henry Ford when he talks about his management style: “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”. His leadership and decision-making skills account for all of the awards that the General Manager of Homewood Suites-Greenville has garnered through the years.
Joe joined Paragon Hotel Co. in 2012, after moving from Harlan, Ky., with his wife, Tracie. He started as a Guest Service Representative at the Comfort Suites in Anderson, SC, then quickly set himself apart as a leader and true hospitality professional. Soon, he was promoted to General Manager of the Country Inn & Suites-Anderson.
There, he won 2013’s prestigious Carlson Rezidor General Manager of the Year award, while also receiving the TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Award, Be our Guest Award, and the President’s Award. The latter is presented to the hotels that achieve top scores in guest satisfaction as measured by guest feedback for cleanliness and consistency in meeting – and often exceeding – the brand’s product quality standards.
Joe consistently inspires sense of duty, not only to his guests, but also to his team, to owners, and to the franchise brand. His passion for pleasing people infuses Team Members with the desire to focus on guest satisfaction.
Still, he’s humble about his award-winning efforts: “We owe so much to our hard-working associates, not just here at the hotel, but also at Paragon Hotel Co., where teamwork, creativity and collaboration are just part of the day. More than that, though, we owe everything to our guests – they’re the people we really work for!”
Dean Andrews started working for Paragon Hotel Co. as a Maintenance Associate at Hampton Inn-Anderson in 1995. Today, he’s General Manager of the award-winning Hampton Inn-Easley – and that’s only part of his amazing journey up the hospitality-industry ladder.
“I have held almost every position within the broad array of focused service brands, which has led me to be the seasoned hotelier that I am today,” he says. “I have had the career advantage to work with myriad brands, from Hilton and Marriott, to Wyndham and Choice Hotels, just to name a few. I firmly believe that when you work diligently through the various ranks of the hotel industry you get an invaluable knowledge base that is unparalleled to any classroom environment.”
A top-performing General Manager of a Lighthouse brand, he’s also Hotel General Partner and Chairman of the Asset Management Committee. And with his team, he has achieved three Hilton Lighthouse Awards, two Hilton Circle of Excellence Awards and numerous Hilton Wall of Fame awards.
And while he appreciates all of that recognition, he says, “Our greatest achievements have been in serving our guests with the genuine desire to ensure their utmost satisfaction. I believe that the culture of the organization defines its limits of success, and when I joined Paragon Hotel Co., we shared that same vision.