It’s doubtful that anyone knows more about Best Western’s members than Stevie Russell, who has been working with them since 2003.
So it’s a good thing she reckons they are the best thing about her job as Member Services Manager.
“After being here for so long you get close,” she says. “There’s just a lot of good people in the network – down to earth and hard-working.
“That’s what keeps us here for so long. It really is all about the hotel owners.”
She says they’re a tight-knit community that helps each other out, with strong camaraderie that’s increased over the years as the members have pulled together to lift the overall standard of the Best Western network.
“The reaction to Quality Assurance program is interesting. The inspections have kind of gone from something members disliked to something they have come to embrace because they all strive for quality.
“They now appreciate a fresh set of eyes and a different perspective. Back in the old days they didn’t always feel confident about recommending other Best Westerns because they were not sure of the quality. But our tougher Quality Assurance program has changed that.”
Stevie grew up in Tamworth, country NSW, and says she always wanted to work in the hospitality industry.
“Back in Tamworth I started working in a hotel doing ironing for $5 an hour on weekends because my mother was employed there.
“Then I did different jobs and studied hospitality and tourism at school. I thought I was going to be a travel agent actually but I somehow connected with Best Western and never left.”
Her Tamworth upbringing also gave her a taste for country music.
“I’m a huge fan and spend my spare time going to as many country music concerts/festivals as I can (especially Keith Urban)!”