Here’s one place you won’t see Jeff Mayers for more than a couple of hours each day: his office.
The new general manager of the Longboat Key Club and Resort might tour a golf course, do a walk-through of a department, inspect condo units or meet members on a given day.
He estimates that he logs just two or three hours in the office most days.
He believes in being seen beyond the Key Club’s gates.
Since assuming the position in November, Mayers has joined the board of Visit Sarasota County, spoken at a Longboat Key Public Interest Committee revitalization forum and attended Longboat Key Town Commission meetings.
Last week, he strolled the runway as a model in the Longboat Key Garden Club’s “Taste of the Keys” fashion show.
“One of the things I learned early on was that the importance of being visible at the club and in the community can’t be understated,” Mayers said.
But, even if you haven’t seen Mayers, who admits he sometimes gets mistaken for Robert DeNiro, on the golf course or at a meeting, you might have seen his influence — even if you didn’t know it.
When he first arrived at the Key Club, he gave each department an assignment: Submit two ideas on how to immediately improve customer service.
Now there are water bottles in each golf cart. You can get your car washed while you play golf on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Book a reservation and you’ll get a sneak peek of resort amenities and local attractions, courtesy of an email sent four days before your arrival.
Mayers identified other areas that needed focus:
The golf courses were a top priority and now include more lush, greener grass and refreshed sand traps to go along with new cart paths.
Now, bright-red geraniums greet visitors at the resort’s entrance.
A Rolex clock just arrived in the Harbourside golf course staging area.
Wi-Fi and new pool-and-beach furniture are on their way to Inn on the Beach, as is new restaurant equipment and a new fleet of club vehicles.
Some of the changes are subtle.
Employees will soon sport new uniforms that will include evening jackets for males, for example.
“Perception is a reality,” Mayers said. “How we present ourselves tells people who we are.”
Mayers’ first impressions of Longboat Key didn’t come from the Key Club. He vacationed on the island in the past but stayed at other hotels, including the Longboat Key Hilton Beachfront Resort.
A 27-year veteran of the hospitality industry, he got his start as a night manager at a Washington, D.C., hotel, in what he thought would be a one-year break before law school.
His career since then has taken him to communities such as St. Pete Beach, Orlando and Key West, before his most recent position from 2008 to 2012 as general manager of the Sawgrass Golf Resort & Spa, in Ponte Vedra.
When the Key Club position became available, Mayers saw similarities between the Key and Ponte Vedra.
“It’s a barrier island that strives for quality of life and is a community that is philanthropic for some great causes,” he said.
He gave further insight about his thoughts on Longboat Key during the Jan. 24 PIC revitalization forum, during which he explained what the island needs to maintain its quality of life.
He spoke about the need to maintain business year-round and the importance of effectively marketing the Key to the younger generation known as the “millenials.”
“Millenials want to be active,” he said during the forum. “We have great beaches, fishing, swimming and the things they want to do. We just need to drive that segment here.”
Mayers told the Longboat Observer that he has heard stories from people who discovered the Key when they visited the Key Club or Colony Beach & Tennis Resort and stayed for its quality of life.
“They really enjoy this area, and they don’t want to lose what they have,” he said.
While Mayers gives the Key Club a refresher, the question still looms: Will Ocean Properties attempt to give the Key Club a more extreme makeover?
Since Ocean Properties purchased the resort from the New York-based Loeb Partners Realty in October, Ocean Properties officials have declined to offer details about what the sale means for the resort and the $400 million Islandside renovation-and-expansion project application, which the 2nd District Court of Appeal quashed in August.
His predecessor, Michael Welly, became especially visible to the community as he advocated for the project.
Mayers, however, is quick to say he’s not a part of any discussions that Ocean Properties may be having about any future development application.
“In terms of a bigger project, I’m not engaged in development conversations taking place,” Mayers said. “My focus is on the resort we have right now.”
In 2013, that means surpassing membership expectations for a club that has about 2,000 memberships; increasing hotel occupancy (the club has already redesigned its website and implemented new hotel marketing strategies); implementing effective training programs for the entire staff; continuing to improve golf-course conditions; and working closely with Inn on the Beach owners.
Asked what his ultimate vision is for the club, Mayers said:
“I envision seeing what we can do today that’s going to make us even better tomorrow. It’s about maintaining, growing and effectively implementing and integrating our business strategies to make us grow.”
Family: Wife, Elizabeth; two sons
Residence: Downtown Sarasota
College: University of Maryland, political science
Hobbies: Exercising and walking in the garden
Interesting Fact: Mayers was a bouncer for a Maryland nightclub.
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