Hospitality staff for The Players focusing on health

Amid coronavirus threat, organizers enforcing hand-washing among staff, adding hand sanitizer stations

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – As thousands of people will be heading to The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass this week, hospitality workers will be taking measures to make sure people stay healthy amid concerns over the new coronavirus in Florida.

Tyler Hagin, the regional director of food and beverage at TPC Sawgrass, knows just how important the major event is for Northeast Florida.

“About $2.4 million in a week -- that’s a lot of us. That’s basically three months of business for us packed into one week,” Hagin told News4Jax on Sunday.

Part of the success comes from the help of college students.

“The biggest one is JU. We have one from Flagler (College). And then FSU, we have 10 kids from. And then outside of that, we have another four coming in from Michigan State,” Hagin said.

Mitch Gallo is a graduate student at Jacksonville University who is part of the concierge team at The Players.

“We greet the VVIP guests and we make sure their experiences are the best in the world,” Gallo said. “The best part is interaction, just meet the people. They’re excited for the tournament and they make us more excited for the tournament."

This will be Gallo’s second year working The Players. During Gallo’s training this year, interaction amid the coronavirus scare was touched upon.

“How do you make sure you’re interacting with the guests but not in a way that would ruin their experience, how to be courteous and not over courteous. We’re going to limit our handshaking. If we don’t have to interact closely with a customer, then we won’t,” Gallo said. “(An alternative to a handshake could be) a courteous head nod. If they want to go in for a handshake, maybe say, ‘Out of your health and respect, we just want to make sure everything is maintained.'"

Hagin said they will make sure that staffers are following proper hand-washing practices.

“That’s the best way they can protect themselves and the guests from it,” Hagin said. “We are adding hand sanitizer stations across the property.”

Jared Rice, executive director of the tournament, said there will be 30 hand sanitizer locations throughout TPC at the highest traffic locations and fans can also bring in their own hand sanitizer.

As for Gallo, his goal is to provide the best experience possible for everyone at The Players.

“It doesn’t matter what industry you go into. You’re always going to have to deal with customers,” he said. “And what better of a way to deal with than a customer than at the highest level?"

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