Hoteliers select hospitality award winners

The Hotel and Lodging Association of Greater Kansas City, a non-profit trade organization that represents one of the largest industries in the state in terms of employment, taxable income and economic impact, has selected three distinguished metro area individuals to receive its prestigious hospitality awards.

Receiving the Association’s “Hotelier of the Year” award is Michael Klingensmith, general manager of the Embassy Suites and Homewood Suites at the Kansas City International Airport. This award recognizes exceptional service to the hotel association and participation in civic organizations that benefit the community and the travel and tourism industry. “To be selected by your peers to receive this award is an incredible honor”, Klingensmith said, “It is the best career milestone any hotelier can expect to achieve.”

Klingensmith has over 25 years of experience opening and operating hotels in numerous cities, finally landing in Kansas City in 2005. Klingensmith served as the association’s President in 2011 and Chairman in 2012. As such he was the voice of the industry active in governmental affairs, coordinating advocacy efforts and educational programs. He was selected to the Mayor’s task force, is active in various north Kansas City business association s, as well as the KCI Airport Rotary.

Dr. Gerald L. Cook, President of the Overland Park Convention and Visitors Bureau, was selected to receive the association’s Hospitality Leadership Award. This award recognizes a prominent member of the travel and tourism community whose service and love of our city make it a better place to live and work. The award recipient must epitomize that unique hospitality that makes visitors want to return again and again.

Cook exemplifies the kind of leadership that is admired by industry leaders. Cook is a past president of the Travel Industry Association of Kansas, past president of the SKAL Club of Kansas City, an international travel association, and he was instrumental in organizing the Kansas City Regional Destination Alliance. Cook demonstrates his commitment and leadership within the community with his involvement in numerous civic organizations. He is also concerned about educational opportunities for employees in the hospitality industry and serves as an elected Trustee for Johnson County Community College. Cook is currently building visitor interest in the 11 Kansas byways by walking each of them in the next 10 months, a trek of approximately 1,220 miles.

The association will also recognize Skip Johnson, the Lead Service Sales Representative for SimplexGrinnell, as its Hotel Supplier of the Year. He has been employed with SimplexGrinnell for 20 years, starting his career in the fire sprinkler industry in 1989. In 2011 he was the top service sales representative in the region. Johnson’s current certifications include AFSA Fire Sprinkler Planning School and NICET certification.

Johnson is active in four health care associations in Kansas and Missouri - “Missouri Health Care Association, Kansas Health Care Association, Missouri Nursing Home Administrators Association and the Missouri Assisted Living Association. He is also involved with the Make a Wish Foundation. For the last two years Johnson served on the hotel association’s board of directors serving as a voice for vendors seeking to do business in the hotel community. His efforts lead to the re-design of the association’s Midwest Hospitality Expo, the region’s only hotel supplier tradeshow.

These awards will be presented at the Hotel & Lodging Association’s 25th Annual Recognition Dinner on Saturday, February 16, 2013. This industry celebration pays tribute to the men and women who keep the lights on, the rooms clean, the food prepared and the service prompt. This black tie dinner is being held at the InterContinental Kansas City at the Plaza.

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