Newport News Announces Tourism Professional Of The Year

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Mayor McKinley Price (left), Vice Mayor Saundra Cherry (center), and Edwin Tyler (right).

NEWPORT NEWS-Edwin (Ed) Tyler, a front-desk associate with the Holiday Inn Newport News/Hampton in City Center, is the newest recipient of the “Gregory Cherry Tourism Professional of the Year” award. The award is normally presented during an annual luncheon hosted by Newport News Tourism, but due to the Governor’s mandate on large groups gathering, the award was presented as a live-stream on Facebook.

“I was very surprised,” said Tyler. “I was told we were having a Facebook Live to promote the hotel as a part of Newport News Tourism, so I was expecting people to be there and I was expecting to interact with people. I didn’t know the Mayor and the Vice Mayor were going to be there and I definitely didn’t know it was going to be an award presentation for me. I didn’t even know I was nominated.”

According to Alcina Phipps, Sales Manager at the Holiday Inn Newport News/Hampton, who nominated Tyler, the award is well deserved and a long time in coming. She has nominated him three or four times over the last eight years.

“Over the ten years that I have worked with Edwin I can’t remember one call-out or even a complaint about him,” she said. “He is always professional and well-groomed, as we wish all front desk associates should be, but there is something more about his demeanor. He is regal. If you were checking into a mom-and-pop hotel or the Intercontinental, he displays the same honor and pride providing the best experience possible.”

In addition to being extremely professional and a huge ambassador for the City of Newport News, Tyler is also amazing at handling crisis situations.

“Ed takes his time with every guest,” said Phipps. “He actually takes a particular physical stance when dealing with serious issues that shows he is attentive and deeply concerned. He makes a guest in distress actually feel so important, like he doesn’t have anyone or anything else to attend to. It’s what makes him a guest and employee favorite. This award is huge in our community. Anybody who goes through that length definitely deserves to be nominated, and I’m so happy and blessed that he was actually picked for the award this year.”

You can also add the word “humble” to Tyler’s list of accolades. When asked what drives him to excel, he commented, “I don’t really know if it’s about me putting forward extra effort because I feel like everybody on the team goes above and beyond. I’ve worked at a couple of hotels before and I’ve never seen so many people onboard with being what hospitality should be. Some managers might walk through a lobby, see customers are waiting in line, and say, ‘Somebody needs to help.’ Each of our supervisors is somebody. They don’t call anyone else for help. They just jump in themselves. So, they set the example that makes it easier for me to follow.”

The “Gregory Cherry Tourism Professional of the Year Award” is named in memory of the Vice Mayor’s husband, a former Travel Counselor at the Newport News Visitors Center and owner of the James A. Fields House, who died in 2007.

“I just want to say that for the Mayor and the Vice Mayor to be at the presentation of this award was extraordinary, especially since the award was named after the Vice Mayor’s husband,” said Tyler. “She expressed his passion and love for Newport News and tourism, and that really meant a lot to me. It added a lot of nuances and a lot of gravity to the award itself. I really appreciated them being there.”