FORT FRANCES—Wanda Barker, manager of the local Super 8 Motel, was honoured with the company’s Manager of the Year award at the company’s international convention in Las Vegas last week.
“It’s a great honour,” Barker said.
The award was presented at the gala dinner at the end of the weekend convention. And though Barker attended with the owners of the local motel, Kevin and Leah O’Flaherty of Kenora, they didn’t tell her she had won.
“I cried. I was totally shocked,” she said of her reaction when her name was called. “It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”
Barker was chosen as the top manager out of the more than 2,000 Super 8 managers in Canada, the United States, and China.
“My staff deserves the award as much as I do,” she noted. “I tell them this is just as much your award as it is mine.”
The O’Flahertys nominated Barker for the award, who had to meet a certain number of criteria, including being an active member of the community and having at least an 8/10 rating for customer service based on customer response surveys.
The local Super 8 has a 9.05 average for customer service, Barker noted proudly.
“We just really strive for customer service,” she said. “I tell my staff, why do the ordinary when you can do the extraordinary? That’s what we try to achieve.”
In addition, each Super 8 is inspected quarterly, and is given demerit points whenever they don’t meet corporate standards.
The local Super 8 averaged 25 points in 2006.
“That’s unheard of. It’s phenomenal,” said Leah O’Flaherty, who nominated Barker for the award back in December.
“People go out of their way to tell me about the amazing experiences they have down in Fort Frances when they stay there,” O’Flaherty added. “I could tell her a million times over, but I think coming from the chain, it just adds to that.”
O’Flaherty learned shortly after the nomination process that Barker had been chosen to receive the award, but decided to keep it a secret until the convention last week.
“I’ve known for a couple of months. It was really, really hard not to tell her,” she laughed.
In her nomination letter, O’Flaherty outlined the reasons Barker deserved the award.
“Wanda is a wonderful leader to her team of employees. In fact, five of her current employees have been with her since 2001!” O’Flaherty wrote.
“There is no other indicator of morale than staff retention.”
She also included a number of comments from guests.
“My job involves a great deal of travel and I have yet to come across a hotel [Super 8 or otherwise] that can compare in quality,” wrote one guest. “Thank you for always providing a friendly, comfortable oasis during my travels.”
“The staff at the Super 8 in Fort Frances make me feel very welcome while I am working away from home,” wrote another.
The Manager of the Year award comes with a $5,000 prize, with $3,000 going to Barker directly and the remaining $2,000 going to her staff.
Barker is a member of the Super 8 managers’ advisory board. The award means she will remain on the board for another three-year term.
In addition to winning the prestigious award, Barker and the others on hand for the gala dinner had the opportunity to hear a talk from a giant in the world of business.
None other than Donald Trump was the keynote speaker.
“I really enjoyed his speaking. He’s very down-to-earth,” Barker noted.