I only had the privilege of meeting Steve Porter once, but the chief of IHG's Americas region made quite a first impression. It was easy to see why the man was so well-liked, and so successful in this industry.
I was in Atlanta in mid-June to take part in the company's extended-stay owner certification class for an upcoming story. Porter popped into the conference room to welcome the 40 or so newer owners and developers, giving them a brief pep talk about Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites and then taking questions. As he entered the room he chatted with a couple owners he clearly knew, by name, before settling into the front of the room.
The next day I attended a company celebration to honor the first Staybridge Suites opening outside the Americas. By chance I ended up next to Porter and together we entered the large room decorated with balloons and banners. Porter quietly moved through the room, comfortably chatting with a handful of the 200 or so IHG employees at the event.
Despite being the head of one of the biggest lodging companies in this country, Porter looked and sounded like everyone else in that room. You wouldn't have known he was the one with the really big office on the top floor of IHG's U.S. headquarters.
When I got the chance to sit down in that office with Porter later that day, the conversation wasn't about him or the company. He wanted to know if the class and story pitch had lived up to its billing. Was it what I expected? What I wanted? Did I get everything I needed? He then suggested a couple topics he'd like to see covered by the hotel trade publications.
The conversation soon drifted to Ohio, the state he loved and the one I'm also from, and the Buckeyes. The Miami of Ohio grad was a huge fan of the Scarlet and Gray and couldn't wait for the upcoming OSU-USC football matchup. He said he wasn't going to attend the game because of business obligations, but I'd like to think he'll be watching—and cheering—from above when the game kicks off in September.
I wish we'd get the chance to work together again, but I'm glad I got to know him, albeit briefly. To better know Steve Porter, check out the wonderful website IHG created to honor him.