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Ken is the SVP of Operations at Avocet Hospitality Group, a hotel management company based in Charleston, South Carolina, and he’s been leading the charge to bring the company’s hotels back.
And coming back for their hotels has meant a literal hockey stick if you were to graph out rate and occupancy performance since Spring Break. They’re setting records and looking to close out 2021 as one of their best ever.
But in operations, high rates and occupancy have to be supported by engaged staff, a full suite of amenities and services, and the ability to get the flywheel turning again.
Ken shares how they have been dealing with these challenges and some of the thinking that is going on behind the scenes with respect to balancing “getting back to normal” and what the new normal will actually look like.
As an industry we’re all in the same body of water, just in different boats. We’re all dealing with similar challenges and my hope is that in this conversation you’ll find commonality, camaraderie and perhaps some ideas on where you can take your own property.
Ken Merkel is the Senior Vice President of Operations at Avocet Hospitality Group. Since joining the team in January 2009, Merkel has overseen all aspects of operations for Avocet Hospitality Group including employee training and overall guest experience.
In his role, Merkel works with team members to ensure that they create strong relationships with guests and the community to deliver memorable experiences and lasting memories. Everyday has the possibility of being unique, different and challenging, but Merkel focuses on working with a group of talented and diverse team members with the ultimate goal of making them happy as his top priority.
Originally from Buffalo, New York, Merkel moved to Charleston in 1997 and has more than 30 years experience in the hospitality industry. His previous experience includes working at Kiawah Island Golf Resort where he was involved in the successful openings of both the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island and the Ocean Course clubhouse as well as was part of the team that hosted the 2007 Senior PGA Championship. Additionally, he worked with high-end, luxury hotels such as The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia and The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.
In his spare time, Merkel enjoys playing tennis and getting out on the water to fish.