Five Sanibel businesses won the Elaine McLaughlin Outstanding Hospitality Service Award on Sept. 10 at the Harborside Event Center in Fort Myers.
The E-Awards, produced by the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau, were presented in six categories: Accommodations, Attractions, Restaurants, Other Services/Businesses, Transportation and Good Samaritan.
The 2013 Sanibel winners included:
-Lisa Hart from Beachview Cottages won the 2013 Honor of Distinction award for her consistent professionalism, dedication to the guest experience, and tireless work ethic.
-Dave, John, and Jim Jensen, the three brothers from Jensen's Twin Palm Resort won the Good Samaritan award for coordinating a visit to Southwest Florida for a young marine, a double amputee, through Operation Open Arms.
-Jonelle Durazzo with the United States Postal Service on Captiva Island earned an award in Other Businesses/Services for going above and beyond her responsibilities as a government employee.
-Carrie Faith from the Keylime Bistro won the Restaurants Award for assisting a family as their grandmother was taken to the hospital for choking.
-Kathy Allen from Tarpon Bay Explorers won the Attractions Award for helping a lost, fatigued elderly woman at the J.N. "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge by letting her cool down in her air conditioned booth and locating her family.
Overall, the award ceremony recognized 595 nominees among more than 52,000 people that are employed directly or indirectly in the hospitality industry, a 1-in-5 ratio for jobs in Lee County. That number generates $2.7 billion worth of economic impact to Lee County.
"Sometimes it's not what you say, it's what you do," said Lee VCB Executive Director Tamara Pigott. "Your consistent, outstanding service deserves recognition."
Nomination criteria involved service satisfaction, leadership, work ethic, job knowledge, performance skills, familiarity with the destination and assistance during an emergency. Generosity, spirit, kindness, passion and performing small acts of support also led to nominations and eventual winners.
"Each of you provide an importance to Lee County. You take a special effort and a special care to make sure that someone that is visiting our area has the very best experience," said Lee County Commissioner Larry Kiker, chairman of the local Tourist Development Council. "You are the leaders in Lee County. We thank you for always doing your best."
The awards are named after Elaine McLaughlin, a former Lee VCB executive director, who was in attendance. She believes all county workers should provide superior customer service to every guest. Nominations came from visitors and fellow industry workers that took the time to fill out forms because they noticed customer care was affected in some positive way.
"You are the stars of Lee County's service industry," McLaughlin said. "I want to thank you for everything you do to make people come to our Lee County home. You make them feel welcome and special."
For more information, visit leevcb.com.