2017 Headline Surfer Hall of Fame: Bob Davis, Lodging & Hospitality Assn. of Volusia County

YouTube download / New Vision Videos LLC video / Bob Davis gives a first-person account of his beginnings in the hotel and lodging industry as he relocated from the Catskills in New York to Daytona Beach Shores in 1966.
 
HeadlineSurfer.com Hall of Fame Inaugural Class of 2017 Entrant: Bob Davis
Category: Tourism
Longevity, experience and determination are all attributes that easily come to mind to those who have interacted with Bob Davis, the longtime CEO and president of the  Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County. Davis is a certified hospitality administrator and hospitality sales professional. But his public service doesn't end there. He was reappointed to the Daytona State College District Board of Trustees by Gov. Rick Scott for a term that ends May 31, 2017. He has served on the Board of Counselors for Bethune-Cookman University and the Board of Hospitality Management for Daytona State College.
 
Two bikini-clad young women sunbathe at the World's Most Famous Beach in Daytona / Headline SurferHeadline Surfer Photo / Soaking up the sun is one of the big draws of the Wororld's Most Famous Beach® in Daytona as shown by these two gals, along a total of 49 miles of Volusia County shorelines where cars are allowed in certain stretches.
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Bob Davis has lived by the philosophy that there no such word as "no," that "if it's right, it's right."

And that philosophy has proven time and again successful to the 79-year-old entrepreneur executive throughout his life. 

After all, Bob Davis eats, breathes and sleeps "hospitality and lodging" in greater Daytona Beach and Volusia County, with a little bit of dancing thrown in for good measure. 

And he's shown no signs of slowing down.

Davis heads up the Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County.

He has seen the ebb and flow of tourism, much like the tide along the World's Most Famous Beach in Daytona...

Vintage Bob Davis & friends / Headline SurferPhoto for Headline Surfer / intage Bob Davis and friends enjoying good times.

Record tourism visitors to Volusia, but county lags behind State of Florida

Volusia County in 2015 drew a record 9.5 million visitors, boosting spending locally by $700 million and creating 2,000 more jobs.

But those increases lagged the tourism growth seen by the state as a whole.

The local economic impact numbers, compiled by Daytona Beach-based Mid-Florida Marketing & Research, were reported at a Tourism Week Breakfast at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Mid-Florida uses a "multiplier-effect" formula that takes into account sales tax revenues, tourism bed-tax collections and other data.

Visit Florida, which compiles the statewide tourism numbers, says it uses Florida Department of Revenue data on all taxable sales considered most influenced by tourism.

Toutism maven Bob Davis / Headline SurferPhoto for Headline Surfer / Bob Davis is 'Mr. Hospitality,' which can sometimes get him in sticky situations as shown here on Feb. 25, with Gypsy Elise at the Blue Bayou Cajun Bistro & Bar.

Here's how Volusia County's Tourism Numbers Stack Up Against Statewide Numbers (2015):

VOLUSIA COUNTY VISITORS: 9.5 million, up from 9.1 million in 2014
Percentage Increase: 4.4 percent
Total Visitor Spending: $5.4 billion, up from $4.7 billion in 2014.
Average Spent Per Visitor: $568.42
Tourism-Related Jobs: 41,000, up from 39,000 in 2014
 
FLORIDA VISITORS: 105 million, up from 98.5 million in 2014
Percentage Increase: 6.6 percent
Total Visitor Spending: $89.1 billion, up from $82 billion in 2014
Average Spent Per Visitor: $848.57
Tourism-Related Jobs: 1.2 million, up from 1.13 million in 2014
 
Bob Davis / Headline SurferHeadline Surfer photo / Bob Davis at a Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce Breakfast in 2014.
 
QUOTABLE: Bob Davis on the increase in visitors to the county in 2016: "They're fantastic. Those are unbelievable numbers."
 
Davis on why Volusia's increase in visitors was less than for the state: "Percentages are garbage. Here's the true facts. We had a 400,000 increase (in visitors) last year. That's a big number for a county with a population of only a half-million. We are right on the mark with all the new (hotels) coming in and the increase from JetBlue (which began daily New York-Daytona Beach nonstop service in January) will come this year, not last year."
Davis on why Volusia visitors spent less than the state average: "What does a ticket to Disney World cost, a week's salary? That could figure into it. We can only gauge by what we've got."
 
Name Change:
The Hotel & Lodging Association of Volusia County at the start of 2016, became known as the Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County, a change that reflects the diversified interests of its members, according to Bob Davis, the association's CEO & president. The group now has more than 250 member businesses that represent 37,000 workers in assorted hospitality fields, according to Davis.
 
Significance of the name change:
"We're serving the industry and there are so many new restaurants that have no voice in Volusia County," Bob Davis explains. "They had no representation, whether it is in regard to laws or finding ways to obtain more customers. A big portion of my life has been spent in restaurants. I understand that side of the industry, the laws that are coming into place. It was a natural fit. That is hospitality, too."
 
Bob Davis and RFK in the 1960s in Catskills, NY / Headline Surfer
Photo for Headline Surfer / Origins in the Catskills, NY: Bob Davis is shown in the mid-1960s with then-Sen. Robert F. Kennedy of New York, just before re-locating to Central Florida.
 
Bob Davis, president and CEO of the Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County, in December 2016, celebrated 50 years as an advocate of the area's visitor-based economy and the hospitality workers who keep it going along like clockwork.

Davis is Known for his love of the New York Mets, ballroom dancing and his unique gruff-sounding voice. Not one easily muzzled, he lets his opinions be known to the Halifax Area Advertising Authority board of directors, the Volusia County Council and others, earning him the moniker "Mouth of the South."

Davis' First Job in Hospitality:
"I was 12 years old and I worked as a busboy in what they called the "Borscht Belt" (in upstate New York). Summer holidays and vacation periods like Easter. I worked my way up from $35 a week to be a social director and dance teacher who entertained the guests. They could play basketball, softball, we'd keep them active all day. I had the best job as maitre d' and general manager of a major hotel in the Catskill mountains. We had all the Broadway shows, the Jerry Lewises, Nipsey Russells of the world."
 
Why Davis Moved to Florida in 1966?
"In New York, the (hotel) owner got very sick and moved to Florida and I saw that hanging over the business. I decided at the time that I needed to look for other employment. I was offered a major job in the Bahamas. They pursued me, but with two young daughters and their mother, I didn't want to leave the country. I decided for my children's sake to stay in the United States. I ran the Hawaiian Inn (in Daytona Beach Shores) for 23 years, added 90 units to that small building to make it 211 units. Little did I know that in 14 months of being open, I was the 14th manager. If I'd known that, I never would have taken the job, but then I lasted 23 years. They couldn't get rid of me."

Bob Davis, ballroom dancer and advocate for the poor

Bob Davis speaks at Daytona city commission meeting for homeless / Headline SurferPhotos for Headline Surfer / Bob Davis, ballroom dancer also is an advocate for the poor, shown speaking in 2016 at a Daytona Beach City Commission meeting in favor of a homeless shelter for the poor. Seated behind him at left (facing the camera) is Jim Cameron, vice president of government relations for the Daytona Chamber of Commerce, and to his right is "Pastor Mike" Pastore, an advocate for the chronic homeless population in Daytona. 

"As a kid, age 16 in Brooklyn, I was hired as dance teacher by Arthur Murray. I worked there three months," Bob Davis says of his dancing origins. "When they found out I was under 18, they fired me. I always had the knack to dance. I did teach for a year professionally in New York. "

"I love to dance, but what I love more than anything is to work for charities. I have a great board and I'm involved in many, many charities, but especially Food Brings Hope (Forough Hosseini charity for hungry children), finding meals for 2,400 (Volusia County) kids who go to school and don't have meals." Another issue near and dear to Davis' heart is helping the homeless, whether it is speaking up at a public meeting or donating tome or money to a charity.

"As a kid, age 16 in Brooklyn, I was hired as dance teacher by -Arthur Murray. I worked there three months," Bob Davis says of his dancing origins. "When they found out I was under 18, they fired me. I always had the knack to dance. I did teach for a year professionally in New York. "

"I love to dance, but what I love more than anything is to work for charities. I have a great board and I'm involved in many, many charities, but especially Food Brings Hope (Forough Hosseini charity for hungry children), finding meals for 2,400 (Volusia County) kids who go to school and don't have meals." Another issue near and dear to Davis' heart is helping the homeless, whether it is speaking up at a public meeting or donating tome or money to a charity.
 
Proclamation: Bob Davis Day
Proclamation Bob Davis Day / Headline Surfer
 
 
WHO HE IS
Hall of Famer: Bob Davis
Formal Name:
Robert C. Davidson
Age:
79
Residence: : 
Port Orange; formerly Daytona Beach Shores.
Place of Birth:
Brooklyn, NY.
Education:
Attended Thomas Jefferson High School, Brooklyn, NY.
Attended Barauch School of Business.
Family: Daughter, Judie (Davidson) Edwards; grandson, Austin Edwards. 
Career: HOTEL & LODGING ASSOCIATION OF VOLUSIA COUNTY
President & CEO, Hotel & Lodging Association of Volusia County, 1999-present;
President & CEO, Business Development Partnership, 199-present.
Civic Involvement:
Trustee -- Daytona State College board, appointed by the governor;
Serves on the United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties;
Has served on the Board of Counselors for Bethune-Cookman University;
Has served on the Board of Hospitality Management for Daytona State College, located within the DSC Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality.
 
Judie (Davidson) Edwards, daughter of Bob Davis / Headline SurferBob Davis with Sheriff Ben Johnson and grandson Austin Edwards / Headline SurferPolice Chief Mike Chitwood with Bob Davis/ Headline SurferPhotos for Headline Surfer / Bob Davis' family and friends: Shown at left is Judie (Daviidson) Edwards, Bob Davis' daughter, who works as a PIO in the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.
Shown in the middle with Davis is then-Sheriff Ben Johnson in 2016, along with VCSO Deputy Austin Edwards, grandson of Bob Davis and son of Judie Edwards.
And at far right, Davis is shown with then-Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood in 2015, who was elected Sheriff of Volusia County in August 2016.
 

Volusia County Councilwoman Deb Denys on Bob Davis / Headline SurferQUOTABLE: Volusia County Councilwoman Deborah Denys was asked to describe Bob Davis in a nutshell: 

"Bob Davis is the consummate champion for all things tourism! Bob has the ability, personality and zeal to unite diverse people for a united purpose." -- Deb Denys

 

Previous-Related Coverage of Bob Davis:
October 20, 2016
August 14, 2013
February 27, 2013
 
Hall of Fame: 
Hall of fame
Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards. Frederick is enrolled online at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's a third of the way though the Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation will be in March 2018.