Contributed photo by Vision Hospitality Group / David Martin is chief operating officer of Vision Hospitality Group

David Martin says he has the gift of serving others.

"I have a propensity of taking care of the needs of others," he says. "I've tried to master those skills at every opportunity in business."

Martin, 60, joined Chattanooga-based hotel company Vision Hospitality Group as its chief operating officer earlier this year.

With three decades of experience in the industry, he moved into the new post just a few months before the coronavirus outbreak. The hospitality sector nationwide has been hard hit by the lockdowns and the slowdown in travel.

Martin says that Vision, which has 40 hotels in six states, has "done significantly better" than many of its counterparts in the industry. But, he says, the hardest part has been managing the impact on peoples' lives.

"There's a large impact when you have certain volumes and staffing levels and you reduce those," Martin says.

He also says the pandemic was new to everyone and there was an adjustment to focus on making people comfortable. Industrywide, Martin says he's bracing for a slow recovery for the travel sectors.

Still, Chattanooga may recover faster because it's a mostly drive-in market, he says. With the Tennessee Aquarium, museums, and outdoor attractions, the city is attractive for mini-vacations, Martin says.

The company COO grew up in Miami. While he went to Miami Dade College for a year, he decided to forge a career in business, first in the fast food industry in management at McDonald's and later in hospitality.

His career in the hospitality sector has taken him across the country, including to California where he spent about 20 years and served as president of the hotel council in San Francisco for a time, Martin says. He also worked in top management for a travel group in Toronto, and he has spent the last 11 years in a president or COO role.

Martin says he came to Chattanooga after he was recruited to meet with Mitch Patel, Vision Hospitality's founder, president and chief executive officer.

"Mitch has an incredible organization," he says. "He attracted me to come back to the U.S. I wanted to get back to the states where the kids and grandkids are."

Martin says that while he has lived "all over," including about seven years in Memphis, he likes Chattanooga's welcoming community.

"It's a real warm city," he says.


* Background: Born in Wilmington, Delaware; grew up in Miami

* Age: 60

* Job: Chief operating officer of Vision Hospitality Group

* Personal: Married, four children, three grandchildren

* When he’s not working: Gardening, hiking, cares for four English bulldogs