Investing in Tourism Workforce
Executive Vice President of North Point Hospitality Whip Triplett has lived up and down the East coast, working in hotels and being a part of opening 22 in his career. But, for the last 16 years, he’s called Savannah home.
“My wife and I chose to live in Savannah. We’ve raised our kids here, and we plan for Savannah to be our forever home. North Point Hospitality has grown significantly during my time in Savannah and a big part of that is thanks to the workforce talent that is found here,” said Triplett.
STARTS WITH HARD WORK
For Triplett, his foray into hospitality started early in life. As soon as he could work, he was washing dishes at a local catfish fry house in Anniston, Alabama. That summer job spilled over into the school year, and he went from dishwasher to working his way up in the kitchen, eventually landing a lead cook position. That job led to a bellman position at a new bed and breakfast in his home town while he attended Jacksonville State University.
When he went off to Auburn University to study Marine Biology, little did he know that he had actually already embarked on a career in hospitality. As a new university-owned hotel was opening up, he got a job as a bellman. He spent four years working full time and going to school.
Working in the hotel, he realized that this was a career that more aptly suited his personality. He eventually changed his major to a newly offered degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and started his career path working at hotels large and small.
Today, Triplett’s company, North Point Hospitality Group (NPHG) is an award-winning hotel development and operations company. They’ve developed 35 hotels from the ground up at an investment of more than $400 million. Currently, the company owns and operates nine hotels in the Southeast with an additional nine hotels either under construction or in active development in excess of $350 million.
“It is not about being a big hospitality company, it is about being a great hospitality company. From development to operations, we want our team members, our guests, our brand partners, and our lenders to see us as focused on greatness. We consider falling short of that as simply unacceptable,” said Triplett.
Certainly, North Point Hospitality Group has not fallen short of that goal as he adds that the company’s growth strategy over the years comes from taking care of his associates, who in turn take great care of the guests.
INVESTING IN THE TEAM
“Tourism has so many opportunities for people to work and be well compensated for their efforts,” said Triplett speaking about the many career possibilities found in tourism and hospitality. “If you can smile, if you have a good attitude, and if you have a displayed work ethic, then you can be trained on everything else in this industry while being paid on-the-job.”
He added that Savannah is in a unique position to benefit from these opportunities, adding as examples, two of the General Managers who work for his company—one, Bryan Cornelius, a Johnson High School graduate who runs the Homewood Suites by Hilton Savannah Historic District/Riverfront and Felton Clark, a Savannah High School graduate who is on his third General Manager assignment with North Point Hospitality.
“Both Bryan and Felton are two great examples of how hard work in our industry can pay off. Both started with us in entry level positions and over time have achieved the highest level of responsibility within our hotels. Neither has a college degree but success in this industry is not specifically tied to higher education,” said Triplett. “There are very few other careers that happily welcome those who do not have or wish to have a college education, and there are very few industries that offer an opportunity to advance so quickly. It has been true for me for 32 years, and it is true for those entering the industry today. I think that is what I am most proud of.”
Locally, Triplett hires more than 400 people to run his Savannah portfolio of hotels, and his company is always looking to expand its workforce. Even as employees are developing the skills that help them advance, tourism and hospitality offer a great place to start a new career. Triplett sees how Savannah, in particular, thrives with the
help of tourism jobs.
“As the largest employer, the tourism industry offers more opportunities for work and advancement than any other industry in Savannah. If you want to work, there are career opportunities,” said Triplett.
Started As /
Executive Vice President