Pitching in Paradise

Spend a day in the life of Bob Pfeffer, the highly successful sales director at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort.

Of course the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort is sailing through the current downturn in good trim: It's ideally situated on a tropical island just south of Naples, FL; there's the luxury hotel, the beach, the golf course, the spa, half-a-dozen restaurants, first-rate conference facilities and exclusive shops; and to fill ‘em all up, there's Bob Pfeffer. Lodging Hospitality spent a humid fall day shadowing the resort's highly successful sales and marketing director on a typical day in paradise.

BOB'S WAGON — NOT TO MENTION HIS GOLF CART — HAS BEEN HITCHED TO THE MARRIOTT STAR FOR 22 YEARS, the last three as sales and marketing director at Marco Island. He also spent 13 years as director of sales at the Marriott Seaview, a golf resort near Atlantic City, and previously handled sales and marketing at the Hilton Head Marriott Beach Resort in South Carolina. Bob worked in audio-visual and catering before jumping into sales, which seems a perfect fit for his warm, easygoing personality. As proof, he was recently named Property Sales Leader of the Year for Marriott Convention & Resort Hotels.

“I had no intention of being in this business and then I fell in love with it,” he says, in a peach-colored short-sleeve shirt, casual slacks and loafers. And judging from the resort's balance sheet, the former minor-leaguer's “pitches” haven't lost much heat (Bob, a pitcher, was drafted by the Cleveland Indians and spent time in the Phillies system). Nowadays, Bob wears a golf glove instead of a mitt, spending as much time as he can at the resort's private course. “It's a passion; every spring I itch to get out there and play.”

OFF TO SEE THE GM

A typical workday starts with a daily meeting of the executive committee in General Manager Rick Medwedeff's office. Medwedeff, looking fit and tan, comes across as a no-nonsense kind of guy, and he quickly gets things under way. The other members of the executive committee represent engineering, event management, food & beverage, human resources, finance and market strategy, plus the resident manager.

The weather is a regular topic of discussion because so many events are held outside, often on the beach. This morning, for example, colorful “sand sculptures” of the PDMA and Sundyne (visiting groups) logos — clearly visible from the hotel's beachfront rooms — decorate the white, shell-covered beach. Yesterday, for example, an event planned for the beach quickly moved inside when winds picked up and skies grew ominous.

The resident manager, Mike Tighe, explains how the staff is doing simple things — like opening more doors for guests — as a way of showing respect. He also reports on a couple of fundraisers for the Children's Miracle Network and various projects on the property. One at a time, each department head details problems, developments and opportunities within their respective areas. One of the executives produces a sample of a local beer, Key West, which the resort is considering for Quinn's, a beachfront restaurant (one of six at the resort).

Bob reports on yesterday's hospitality meeting in which a suggestion was made to ask guests for the most convenient time to clean their rooms as opposed to simply knocking on doors at the discretion of the housecleaning staff. There are only a few areas of the hotel's operations outside the sales director's purview.

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