|Story & photo by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff
Fort McCoy visitors who use the installation’s Lodging facilities are
staying in one of the best lodging operations in the Army.
Michael Bayerl, Fort McCoy Lodging general manager, said Fort McCoy’s
Lodging operation received the Meritorious Award from the American Hotel
and Lodging Association for providing premier customer service and
upgrading their facilities.
Lodging employees Julia Benish
(right) and Judy Rafajko check in Lt. Col. Brian Mulcahy of the
Iowa National Guard at building 51.
Fort McCoy worked its way up to the award by earning the bronze,
silver and gold pineapple awards for operations and staff. Bayerl said
in Colonial times pineapples symbolized the highest levels of
“Just over a year ago we were told we were the first Continental U.S.
Army lodging organization to receive the gold pineapple award,” Bayerl
said. “That was a huge accomplishment. Then we looked at how we could
make the operation even better.”
To receive the Meritorious Award, Lodging was subjected to quarterly
comprehensive audits that measured the level of customer satisfaction
and expectations and documenting it, Bayerl said.
The commercial standards used require Lodging to meet the best
commercial business practices.
The Department of the Army also sent a mystery shopper to evaluate the
property and get input from the program.
“They didn’t tell us we were being evaluated until after they were here
and left,” Bayerl said. “To this day, we have no idea who it was but
were told we did very well on the test.”
Mystery shoppers can be of any rank or grade to ensure all customers —
regardless of status — receive the same high-quality service.
Monique Zaldivar, the Lodging training specialist, said the staff
members, as a whole, have been employed at Fort McCoy for a long time
and take great pride in what they do. While Bayerl has the vision and
plans to get the staff where it’s going, Zaldivar is instrumental in
their training. Zaldivar said staff members often go beyond the required
training and certification to ensure customers get the best-possible
“The story is it’s the people that make this happen,” Zaldivar said.
“The training is not only for us but for them. It’s their dedication
that helped us receive this award.”
Bayerl said he expects the Lodging operation to be voted the best in the
Army, if not this year, in the near future. In addition to facilities
and meeting training/certification standards, the organization also is
judged on employee turnover, which averages only 5 percent at Fort McCoy
compared to 65 percent turnover in commercial operations. This helps
ensure the Fort McCoy staff works as a team and provides a high level of
customer service, he added.
Lodging employees have met the high standards even as the organization
moved to a new location and its mission is changing, he said.
Within the past month, Lodging moved into building 51, the former Army
Reserve Readiness Training Center (ARRTC) dormitory, as the ARRTC
relocated to Fort Knox, Ky., as a result of a Base Realignment and
“It’s brought all of the people together in one building, and we now
have a typical hotel operation, a high-end operation,” Bayerl said.
“Before, our customers would check in (at the Welcome Center, building
35), and we had little interaction with them until they checked out. The
new location also has a renovated lobby with furniture where people can
sit and relax as they are checking in and leaving.”
The new location also has other amenities, such as conference rooms,
which can support organizations coming to Fort McCoy to use the training
facilities. With the multiple mission changes coming to Fort McCoy Army
Lodging is poised to meet its future guests’ needs and exceed