The Thunderbird Inn Is First In Savannah, Georgia’s Tourism Industry To Announce $15/Hour Minimum Wage


The Thunderbird Inn – Savannah Georgia USA

“We’re known to be creative trailblazers. We are not stopping!” — Mark A. Thomas, The Thunderbird Inn, Savannah, GA USA

Renowned for eco-centric investments and Swinging Sixties vibe, The Thunderbird Inn is starting employee salaries to $15/hour, opening the path to earning a living wage. Mark A. Thomas, general manager, advises that the retro-themed hotel is the first among locally owned, tourism and hospitality businesses in coastal Georgia to announce the minimum wage increase.

Rapid Raise Hikes

Effective July 1, 2021, The Thunderbird Inn will launch its $15/hour starting salary as an experiment. For current employees who have helped the inn to weather the pandemic, the increase is immediate.

While the inn’s wage increase is earmarked also to attract highly qualified staff, Thomas points to the brand’s authenticity in this shift. “We market that ‘Fun people stay here.’ This inn must match that with its steady, working team of fun people, too – happy, knowledgeable, dependable, personable, smart, and eager to please!”

Considered a timely and needful increase, the hotel’s new $15/hour minimum wage falls in line with the flurry of wage increases announced by national brands and national recommendations geared to improve the USA economy. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour has not been changed since 2009.

“This raise hike is one indicator of what we hope is a long-term incentive to economic stability for employees and the hotel. It’s a win-win,” Thomas adds. “Extended unemployment benefits, associated with the pandemic, are running out soon. We want to be the top of mind, first choice among hotel professionals with can-do attitudes.”

Thomas advises that The Thunderbird Inn’s owners, management and marketing teams continually explore ways to remain competitive – offering unique experiences, high value, and the lowest lodging rates in downtown Savannah. “Over several years we have been analyzing how to put our employees on a path to realize a living wage. Today our number crunchers say this initial shift, our first step towards that goal, can work!”

Positive Customer Impact

Thomas reports that during spring 2021 the romantics, tourists, and holidaymakers are taking road trips, are eager to get away, and are choosing to fly again to Savannah. “Modern-day travelers are today’s helpers that Fred Rogers admonished his TV fans to look for in times of trouble. These vacationers are not pushing back on slightly higher lodging rates. Increased hotel-motel occupancy and customer tolerance for rate increases are lead indicators that the traveling public is willing to pay a small premium to revive their own needful change of paces to enjoy leisure and socializing pleasures. Importantly, these enthusiastic adventurers are opening their wallets to play a relevant part in the hospitality industry’s hard-hit recovery.”

“How do we know this is the time for wage increases? Try running a competitive hotel short staffed! Hiring bonuses don’t work. Beyond words we are putting money on the table to signal assurance and confidence in teamwork. We value commendable housekeepers, maintenance crew, and front desk staff among our hotel professionals.”

Thomas points out that it is the PEOPLE who earn the business a steady stream of customer and industry accolades. He considers that each employee’s effort enhances the hotel’s reputation and brand — named among USA TODAY’s top ten retro inns in America. The latest top 10% rating for customer satisfaction was the Traveler’s Choice Award in April 2021 from TripAdvisor.

Trend-setting Optimism

Uncompromising in comfort, the mid-century inn has led in Savannah’s blend of hip & historic vibe, encouraging pop culture leisure and modernization, leading the way in tourism circles with eco-centric practices like solar energy, recycling, water conservation, and an EV charging station for hybrid and electric cars. “These are big investments that equate to progress,” Thomas adds. “So also is hiking minimum wages to $15/hour.”

“We’re known to be creative trailblazers. We are not stopping!” Thomas concludes.

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