Though it’s close to three months away, nominations for the Tommy Star Awards have been rolling in to the USVI Hotel & Tourism Association since July, a sure indication of how the annual ceremony has won a solid place in the heart of the community.
This year will mark the 13th celebration of the awards on Nov. 15. Association event coordinator Nyka Etienne Jn- Baptiste said Tuesday that the project is well under way, with many nominations already in.
It’s a lot of work, but worth every bit of it when you see the joy it brings not just to the winners but also to the community in general as folks see their nominees, co-workers, friends march up to the stage to receive their awards. The evening shines the spotlight on service – on the people who provide the backbone of the territory’s economy. They are the ones who meet visitors face to face and make them feel welcome.
It’s always an exciting affair. The evening is the island’s own glamorous answer to Hollywood, usually complete with red carpet and professional greeters welcoming one and all. Since the first celebration in 2002 – when University of the Virgin Islands’ former president, Orville Kean, took home the HTA’s first Award of Excellence, followed by Leona Bryant the following year – the ceremony has grown in stature. The Excellence award goes to someone who has shown outstanding community service.
Jn-Baptiste spoke briefly about the actual work that goes into the selection of the individual nominees. It’s an impressive amount.
"We will have about 50 or 60 nominees," she said. "We have a panel of five or six volunteers from the industry or the government who do one-on-one interviews with each nominee. Once we have honed them down to three or four for each category, we send someone to do an on-the-job video.”
"At the event," Jn Baptiste said, "we show clips from the videos before announcing the winners."
These clips, of course, heighten the suspense and the fun.
The association will accept nominations for individuals who are employed in the hospitality industry and exemplify the highest standards of hospitality. They will be honored in the following categories:
– Airline Representative of the Year
– Restaurant Associate of the Year
– Attraction/Activity Associate of the Year
– Retail Associate of the Year
– Hospitality Support Service Associate of the Year
– Taxi Operator of the Year
– Public Service Representative of the Year
– Hotel Supervisor of the Year
– and Hotel Associate of the Year.
Employers must nominate an employee of at least one year’s employment who demonstrates excellent customer service and actively participates in community events and initiatives. The employee must show great pride in their work, the islands and the industry and be knowledgeable about the industry.
Executive committee members and owners are excluded from nominations. All nomination forms are to be returned to the association’s office via fax to 774-4993 no later than Sept. 5, 2014. Nominations should be submitted by either the Human Resources or Executive Department. Contact the Hotel & Tourism Association’s office for nomination forms.