The Air Force Innkeeper Award Program announced Ramstein Air Base as the winner of the 2020 Air Force Innkeeper Award on Aug. 20.
The award, divided into large and small categories based on number of rooms, recognized the 786th Force Support Squadron Kaiserslautern Military Community lodging team as the best large-category lodging operation in the Air Force.
With nearly 1,300 rooms, KMC lodging spans 30 facilities spread out over four properties on Ramstein, Vogelweh, Kapaun and Landstuhl.
“This award speaks volumes to the outstanding hard work and dedication the lodging team puts forth 24/7,” said Brig. Gen. Josh M. Olson, 86th Airlift Wing commander.
Air Force lodging operations meeting the highest standards were evaluated on customer service, financial measures and related support activities by an Innkeeper Evaluation Board comprised of lodging experts from the Air Force Services Center.
In previous years evaluations were conducted during in-person installation visits, however 2020 candidates received a virtual review of the main facets of their operations.
The virtual review included everything from the front desk area to housekeeping standards and staff training, said Sonya Houston, 786th FSS KMC lodging general manager. It evaluated the operations and logistics section, inventory controls, storage practices, vehicle maintenance, work order management and working relationships with Civil Engineering to maintain facilities.
Created in 1981, the Air Force Innkeeper Award Program recognizes installation-level lodging facilities providing the most outstanding accommodations and customer service to Air Force travelers.
“Even in the midst of COVID-19, we feel that if any base deserves this award, it is Ramstein,” Houston said. “Our mission has been non-stop, and we’ve been excelling at that mission.”
Not even one of the four KMC lodging properties have closed their doors during the pandemic. Their implementation of and strict adherence to necessary health and safety guidelines ensured that they continued to serve the military community.
“Deployments didn’t stop, redeployments didn’t stop, and aircrew missions didn’t stop,” Houston said. “So we have still been dealing with all of those challenges, and doing it quite well.”
The lodging staff has continued to adapt and modify customer service practices, so they may ensure travelers who must self-quarantine still have everything they need while maintaining proper physical distance.
“We ask if there’s anything they need, and let them know to stay in the room,” said Tunisia Sulzbach, 786th FSS Ramstein lodging manager. “Our housekeepers gather kits to support them. Things to keep their rooms clean – garbage bags, extra linen, towels – to get them through that time. We still continue with customer service, we just had to change it up a little bit.”
The management team made a point to recognize that winning the award was a collective effort. From the frontline workers dealing directly with customers to the behind-the-scenes workers in logistics, the entire staff’s hard work, dedication and determination is what made them the best lodging operation in the Air Force.
“I couldn’t be prouder,” Olson said when speaking to the KMC lodging team. “Thanks for the top-notch customer service and continued excellence you provide in a demanding and ever-changing environment.”