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OWENS: How the hotel tax breaks down

I’ve heard much discussion about how the hotel/motel tax should be used, but it’s actually all set by Georgia state law. In our tourism community, we often refer to it as the lodging tax or bed tax.

OWENS: Certifying Savannah's concierge program

“What can I do to be better at my job?”

As an employer and as a representative of the community that employs more than any other industry in Savannah, I can tell you that I love that question.

It’s an employee seeking education, and it’s at the heart of what we do at the Tourism Leadership Council.

Certifying Savannah's concierge program

OWENS: Moving guests around the city of Savannah

With a thriving tourism community and plenty of guests, one of the main issues we face is moving those visitors around the city.

A lot of effort goes into transportation’s role in tourism.

Old Town Trolley Tours offers tours running every 15 minutes with 15 stops encompassing 152 points of interest. When riders get off the trolley to visit a particular point of interest, they can expect another trolley to arrive 15 minutes later and, upon re-boarding, the tour picks up where it left off. Courtesy of Old Town Trolley Tours

OWENS: Movies and their impact on Savannah tourism

It’s getting to be that hot part of summer that beckons us all to duck away inside the cool retreat of the movie theater. With so many great summer blockbusters, the theater is the perfect fit for the Savannah guest who wants to take a break from our summer warmth. In fact, film and tourism have a long history together.

OWENS: Movies and their impact on Savannah tourism

OWENS: New things on horizon for Savannah Food & Wine Festival

Like a good wine, most things are better with time.

The same is true with the Savannah Food & Wine Festival. We’re gearing up for our third year, and we’ve learned a lot in the first two. Some exciting things are on the horizon for this year’s festival.

New things on horizon for Savannah Food & Wine Festival

OWENS: Sharing tourism in our public schools

Before the school bell rings for summer, most of the children in Georgia public schools will be exposed to several different careers. It’s all part of the state requirement called the College and Career Ready Performance Index, which involves K-12 students having access to several different careers in the classroom and with professionals from that industry.


OWENS: Get involved in celebrating national tourism week

If you’ve been to downtown Savannah recently, you’ve no doubt seen the onslaught of visitors into our city. This is tourism’s busy season. And it’s the reason we celebrate National Tourism and Travel Week from May 2-10.

OWENS: Small steps can lead to big benefit

My focus is generally on the economic impact the tourism community has on Savannah and surrounding areas. But today, I’d like to focus on the environmental impact.

OWENS: Arbitrary tax imposed on tourism industry

Late Tuesday night the Georgia House of Representatives as well as the state Senate passed the bill, which included a new tax of $5 to be added to all lodging establishments in the state. The tax will be levied per room, per night effective July 1.

MICHAEL OWENS: St. Patrick's safety with a smile

To some, it looked like any other large community festival. But, if you looked behind the curtain, there was quite a bit of orchestration amongst various city services and organizations.

Michael Owens: Feeding the tourism pipeline

Pick an industry. Any industry. The one thing you need is good, qualified employees.
In tourism, it’s something we spend a great deal of time on — talking, planning and working toward feeding the need to employ 24,000 tourism workers in Savannah.

MICHAEL OWENS: Celebrating the tourism community with awards and scholarships

For 87 years, the Academy has been awarding those Oscar statues to the best and brightest of Hollywood. On Sunday, millions will tune in to see who wins the coveted awards and who looks best walking down the red carpet.

MICHAEL OWENS: Make sure you apply for a job correctly

A wise businessman once told me, “A happy staff makes happy customers, which brings in more money.” It’s a simple mantra that rings loudly in my head when I’m hiring new staff members.

MICHAEL OWENS: Investing in future of tourism

Our future looks bright. Right now, I’m pouring over applications from students vying to be awarded one of the Tourism Leadership Council scholarships next month.

MICHAEL OWENS: How hospitality industry does the holidays

There are a handful of professions where the doors will be open no matter what holiday. Hospitals are staffed in case anything goes wrong. Newsrooms are open because news doesn’t stop. Many grocery stores, convenient stores and shops have limited hours.

MICHAEL OWENS: Tourism awards to celebrate industry’s people

Most of us return to a business if we have good customer service and a good experience. Even if you like the product, a bad experience can force you never to return.

MICHAEL OWENS: Customer doesn’t always get it right

There’s always two sides to a story. The customers is always right. And the customer sometimes gets it wrong. In the tourism community, we’re all here to serve. We base our entire career on making other people happy. It’s drilled in to the core of every good hospitality worker that the customer is always right. That’s not always the case.

MICHAEL OWENS: Raising the bar on food and wine in Savannah

If you’re like me and you like good food, you’ve noticed a tide has changed in Savannah. We have more places offering great food than ever before. I know this because we’ve been celebrating all things food and wine this week at Savannah Food & Wine Festival. Today is the signature event, Taste of Savannah in Ellis and Johnson squares from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

MICHAEL OWENS: Remembering a fallen member of Savannah's tourism industry

Sometimes bad things happen.

This week, the tourism family said goodbye to one of its own. Armando Castillo passed away Monday following a stroke. He was a young, active 51-year-old who loved people and soccer and family.