Five days after graduating from Boston University in 1990, Mark Becker started as a housekeeping supervisor at a Hyatt hotel in Connecticut; he then worked at nine other Hyatts, including at Grand Cayman, Lake Tahoe, Dallas, Palm Springs, Huntington Beach and San Diego, before becoming general manager three years ago at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota, where he oversees 150 full-time employees.
How have 2011 bookings been? Better than 2010. A lot of that was generated by the No. 1 beach rating we received from Dr. Beach. We had an excellent summer compared to last year, but we have not returned to pre-recession levels of 2007-08.
Most difficult event in your 21-year career: Dealing with the death of a guest in the hotel. I’ve dealt with this five times and it never gets easier.
Who sets the hotel rates? I do. I spend about an hour every day with my revenue manager talking about different strategies and setting rates. We have up to 20 rates a day, depending on the customer. With computer modeling, it’s simple to create different rate tiers and pricing structures based on demand. Typically, there is no more than a 15 percent variance between our highest and lowest published rate. Using hyatt.com is always the best way to find the best rate.
Most important asset in hospitality: You’ve got to be nice.
Where you last vacationed: I rented a house in the North Carolina mountains where there was no cell phone coverage and only a little Internet access. I was there with my wife and twin daughters, 11, and my wife’s brother and his family. It was my best vacation.
Ideas for improving local tourism: We need to take care of our assets—our beaches, arts base, Orioles and Ed Smith Stadium and Benderson Aquatic Center. We need to seriously consider a convention center in Sarasota. We need to look at the continued enhancement of downtown. It is walkable, but needs some sort of welcome to downtown, a sense of arrival. North Trail—I’m excited about redevelopment possibilities for that. The signage in our city needs to be addressed, though.