Sherry Franklin was shy as a little girl, but with a little encouragement from her mother, she found her footing. Today, she’s confident, outgoing and proud of the place we all call home. She’s a staunch Nashville advocate, and today we’re thrilled to introduce her to you as our FACES of Nashville feature! Welcome, Sherry!
Tell us about your background and current profession.
I was born and raised in Batesville, MS, which is about an hour southeast of Memphis and 30 minutes from Oxford. I went to Ole Miss, so not too far from home. My sister was living in Nashville, so when I graduated, I moved here and got the first job I could find, working as a receptionist at the old Nashville Convention Center. This was 1986, and it was in the final stages before it opened, so I got in on the ground floor. I stayed there for 11 years, then moved to Memphis, where I worked for Xerox for three years. Then John Fleming (GM of the Renaissance Nashville Hotel) called and asked if I wanted to move back and go to work for him, and I jumped at the chance. That was 2000, and I’ve been here ever since.
As director of hotel sales at the Renaissance Nashville, can you tell me what you enjoy most about your job?
The relationships and friendships you develop over the years. We just had a convention at the hotel with a group that had been here in 2003, and they came back because they had a great experience and we all became friends. It was like a reunion. We have a great product to sell—actually two great products: Nashville and the Renaissance. This is one of the friendliest cities, and our associates bring that spirit to life for our guests.
Nashville continues to be written up in national magazines as a favorite tourist destination. How has that impacted your business?
It’s crazy how popular Nashville is right now. We’re running over 90 percent occupancy on the weekends this year, and that’s almost all transient tourists who are coming to Nashville to see the sights. Convention visitors are still a huge part of our business, but so many more people are coming to town these days. In 2000, the average daily rate for a hotel room in Nashville was about $99. Now, it’s more than $200, and on some weekends, hotel rooms are costing more than $400. And that’s all based on supply and demand.
What does the typical tourist expect when they visit Nashville?
You might say there are two types of tourists: mature and millennials. The mature tourists want to visit the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman, the Country Music Hall of Fame. They like Cheekwood. The millennials have done their homework, and they want to check out the cool, new spots. They’ve read about Etch, Urban Grub, Biscuit Love—they want to see what’s hip. But they all want to go to the bars on Lower Broad. Everybody wants to go to the purple bar where the stars got their start—they all want to go to Tootsie’s.
What are the greatest misperceptions that tourists have about Nashville?
That everybody in Nashville can sing. Ha! Everybody but Sherry Franklin. Seriously, I think the big misperception is that when it comes to music, Nashville’s a one-trick pony, that we just do country music. That is definitely not the case.
Do you have a favorite place that you recommend to tourists that we may not know about?
Fontanel is one of those unique places that is still somewhat unknown. Visitors can go out there, visit Barbara Mandrell’s former home, listen to music, ride a zip line and enjoy an Italian dinner.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
This goes back to when I was a shy little girl. I grew up in a village, if you will … everyone helped with all the children. I was an introvert and always thought everyone was laughing at me. When I was about 8 or 9, my mom said, “I’m not going to be around forever to defend you. So you have to learn to defend yourself. Stand up for yourself.” I still use this in work today. When I talk to other associates, I tell them that they are empowered to make the decisions. I won’t always be there to guide them, but I will defend the decisions they make.
What upcoming local event are you most looking forward to?
The opening of the Ascend Amphitheater. It is going to be a great addition to downtown Nashville. I’m looking forward to some more outdoor concerts.
Favorite place to go on a Saturday night?
Martin’s Bar-B-Que in Mt. Juliet
What are a couple of your favorite local restaurants?
Urban Grub is a favorite. And I love The Southern.
What book are you currently reading?
The Circle Maker. It is about finding your dreams and owning them and expanding your prayer life.
Do you have any personality quirks?
I laugh too much … and too loud. Everyone always knows when I am in the building.
Name three things you can’t live without, other than faith, family and friends.
- My water. I’m a water-hol-ic.
- I’d say a comfortable home. Being able to go home and have a place to relax and unwind and curl up on the couch.
- And you know what else? My eyesight. Being able to go out and experience nature and see the beauty that God has given us.
Thank you, Sherry, for sharing your passion for and knowledge of our city with our readers today.
Thanks to Ashley Hylbert of Ashley Hylbert Photography for today’s beautiful photographs.