In Charge '14: Tourism

As is our annual tradition, the Post team presents In Charge, a compendium of Middle Tennessee’s top business, political and civic leaders. The 450-plus women and men on our list — our fifth annual — make a positive impact not just on their individual sectors, but on the city in general. These folks are the best of the best — and always “in charge.”



1. Greg Adkins — President and CEO, Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association: Former Metro councilman and executive director of the Tennessee Public Transportation Association. Oversees Nashville-based entity that is the advocacy voice and key resource for information and education for the state’s hospitality industry.

2. Colin Reed — Chairman and CEO, Ryman Hospitality Properties: The leader of what had been, until 2012, Gaylord Entertainment Co. Ryman Hospitality reclassified as a REIT on Jan. 1, 2013, and owns the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium and radio station WSM. Company saw shares (and revenues) slump in mid-2013, but the stock rebounded by year’s end.

3. Robert Rowling — CEO, TRT Holdings: Owner of Omni hotel chain. Gaylord Entertainment Co. in 2012 paid the Texas billionaire a handsome profit for his 20-plus percent stake after he protested management’s plans for REIT conversion and hotel sell to Marriott International.

4. Randy Smith — Chairman and Co-Founder, STR Global: Co-founded in 1985 what has become the international lodging industry’s leading data provider, Company’s Census Database offers current profile of hotel supply globally, containing more than 156,000 hotels representing approximately 14.5 million rooms. Supplies benchmarking reports to more than 36,000 hotel clients representing nearly five million rooms worldwide.

5. Steve Smith — Owner, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge: Owner of the most legendary honky-tonk in Nashville and, as co-owner of Rippy’s and Honky Tonk Central, a strong voice for downtown merchants. Has overseen Tootsie’s expansion fronting Ryman Alley. Plans to develop 24-hour diner in SoBro.

6. Butch Spyridon — President, Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau: Helped lead effort to see the Music City Center come to fruition. A straight shooter who is unafraid to speak frankly about Nashville’s tourism and convention industry. Actively campaigning for at least one more large-scale full-service hotel to service the MCC.

7. Kyle Young — Director, Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum: Has led since 1999 one of Nashville’s most popular tourist destinations, which is nearing completion of a major addition and expansion that is now integrated with the adjacent Omni hotel. Helped unveil last October the Taylor Swift Education Center.