by Mollee Harper, Senior Editor
Georgia Film News travels behind the scenes to look at the hospitality industry and travel accommodations for entertainment professionals through our interview with Gwendolyn (Gwen) Goodman. Goodman serves as Area Director of Entertainment Sales at InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, and was honored as one of Atlanta’s Top Most Influential Women in 2008. During our time together, Goodman shares insights into her fascinating role and how InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta hotel is working to provide the best accommodations possible for out of town production companies, actors, crew and other industry professionals who come to the state for work. Learn what Goodman and team are doing to welcome and host entertainers so they feel at home while on location. (It’s one of our favorite places to stay in Atlanta.)
Goodman serves as Area Director of Entertainment Sales for InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta Hotel. During her 12 years, she has served in numerous management roles including: Senior Entertainment & Business Travel Manager, Entertainment & Marketing Manager, and Executive Meeting Manager. Prior to joining InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta Hotel, Goodman worked for Delta Air Lines in public relations, human resource corporate communications and human resource customer service communications. She was honored as one of Atlanta’s Top 25 Most Influential Women in 2008.
Goodman offered, “I have been with the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta hotel for 12 years as of March 2017. I began work here in January 2005 on a three month assignment to assist with the grand opening party for the hotel. After that time, there was a position available and because the hotel industry was so fascinating to me, I decided to apply and was awarded the sales and marketing coordinator position reporting to the director of sales and marketing. Through my achievements, I progressed to my current positon as Area Director of Entertainment Sales. Previously, my experience was with Delta Air Lines in their corporate office in Human Resource Customer Service Communications and I was responsible for the Customer Services Airport Teams in the northeast, (JFK, LGA, EWR); Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Atlanta. I believe this experience prepared me for my current role.”
“We have 12 brands in the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) family which include our luxury brand InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, the Crowne Plaza Hotel & Resorts, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, HAULUXE Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo, Even Hotels, Holiday Inn Hotels, Holiday Inn Express Hotels, Holiday Inn Resort, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Candlewoods Suites and Staybridge Suites.”
Goodman explained, “My main focus is local Buckhead and I work out of InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta hotel as the Area Director for Entertainment Sales. We mostly house the above the line cast members and executives; however, I hold hands with our sister properties to coordinate crew rooms for extended stay guests as needed. Production guests often need accommodations with additional amenities like kitchens and on-site laundry facilities in order to give them more flexibility in their stay. By assisting with securing their hotel stay, I’m able to make sure everyone receives the accommodations needed.”
“I handle mainly the entertainment market from productions to transient entertainers traveling through Atlanta for leisure time, or a concert tour in need of housing.”
“I work with all entertainers, productions companies, cast members and third parties. It’s not uncommon for me to get a late night call that someone popped in on a private jet and needs a place to stay for the night. At that moment, you have to be ready to work with their schedule.”
“On the production side of the business, cast and crew schedules are all dependent on what the production is shooting on a given day. If it rains and the shoot is outside, the entire schedule changes. Therefore, we have to be flexible with production guests’ check-ins and check-outs.”
Goodman shared, “There are lots of details involved in hosting someone from the entertainment industry. They are not on an 8-5 schedule and often they are working in the studios from early morning until late in the evening or night. When they return to the hotel, privacy and the ability to be able to relax and sleep when necessary is important to them. We at the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta hotel understand this.”
“No two days are the same. I don’t come to work thinking it’s going to be the same. Because of this position, I’ve met some incredible people and gained new friendships. Many of them will call me directly when they are planning a trip to Atlanta.”
“There’s one particular person who calls all the time and she keeps her phone on private caller. She’s always amazed when I know it’s her calling. I try to make myself available for face time with arriving guests because I’m often asked if I’m going to be at the hotel when they arrive. I adjust my schedule to accommodate their requests because in this industry, it’s not so much about the business deal, it’s about the relationships. We work hard to build a relationship of trust and when this exists, the guest knows that we are going to take care of them when they are in Atlanta.”
“For many entertainment professionals, 90% of their time is spent away from their home and mostly in a hotel. When they visit our hotel, we want them to feel like they are at home. We want them to know that they can walk freely through the hotel and we make our environment work for them.”
“If they are here for three months, they are going to want certain amenities set up in their guest rooms. If they have a newspaper of choice, we will have it waiting for them. We anticipate their needs in the meals they like and be prepared to accommodate them with late night room service. For the first time guest with us, we gather the necessary background in advance so that we can provide that same level of service from the start.”
“When guests arrive back to the hotel from the studios, we provide them with the options. Our 24-hour fitness center is available if they choose to work out. If they prefer to go for a run, we have lanais with two beautiful paths for running around the Buckhead area and when they return to the hotel, water and towels are waiting at the front entrance for them. We also have a 25,000 sq ft garden where guests can relax and our bar service is available to them. And for the ultimate relaxation, our full service Spa InterContinental is located on the second floor as well as our year round heated saline pool where guests can swim during any season.”
Goodman described, “We are located in the center of Buckhead and walkable to many of the nearby shops, restaurants and entertainment. We also have a courtesy car available to our guests who would like to travel within 2 miles of the hotel. Our concierge is available to assist with recommending ‘In the Know’ experiences and finding unique locations whether it’s a cigar bar, speak easy or specialty shop. We attend to every little detail to meet the needs of our guests.”
“Our staff is made up of passionate and beyond competent people who provide excellent service. We have a team member who has a memory of an elephant. He remembers everyone and every visit. He greets and provides phenomenal service from the moment of arrival to departure. He’s just one example of many who provide superior service.”
“It’s important that I do my job to a tee all the way down to the smallest detail. When I’m not at the hotel, our guests are in the hands of our frontline team. When their delivery is flawless and memorable, it makes me look good. The level of service that is provided from the beginning is what makes or breaks us.”
“We have to be efficient and everyone has to be in sync. Then we have to go beyond that. We have to not only be good, but great at what we do. Our guests can go anywhere in Atlanta and get good service. We have to be great so that they want to come back to the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta hotel.”
Goodman concluded, “I am so happy to see the progress of this city. It gives our guests the opportunity to see Atlanta in the way that we want them to see it. We have one of the best production tax credits in Georgia, but we also have a lot to offer. You can create any backdrop of variations in any location in this state and Atlanta and this has helped to build Georgia’s momentum.”
The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) was officially formed in April 2003 with a vision to create Great Hotels Guests Love. IHG hotels provide more than 744,000 guest rooms globally serving over 150 million guests each year.
InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts features 12 brands spanning 5,000 hotels in nearly 100 territories and countries around the world including: InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts; Kimpton® Hotels & Restaurants, HUALUXE® Hotels and Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo®, EVEN® Hotels, Holiday Inn® Hotels, Holiday Inn Express® Hotels, Holiday Inn Resort®, Holiday Inn Club Vacations®, Staybridge Suites®, Candlewood Suites®, and IHG® Rewards Club.