Editorial Board   Guest Author

Ms. Pingston

Julie Pingston

President, Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA)

Julie Pingston, CMP, CTA is the current President of the Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) and is Senior Vice President for the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau in Lansing, Michigan. She has been with the GLCVB for 21 years and works in conjunction with the Bureau’s President in overall organizational operations. She also has direct oversight over convention services, membership, the Greater Lansing Sports Authority, the Certified Tourism Ambassador Program and special events which are coordinated by the organization. Previously, Ms. Pingston worked in Washington, D.C. for the United States Travel & Tourism Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce. While there, she assisted in planning international conferences and Board Meetings as well as administering a disaster relief assistance grant program. Ms. Pingston chaired ESPA’s 2014 Annual Conference and is a member of MSAE, MMPI and the Rotary Club of Lansing. She also serves as the President of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, President of the Rotary Club of Lansing Foundation and Secretary of the Tourism Industry Coalition of Michigan. Ms. Pingston was Michigan Meetings and Events Magazine’s Hall of Fame Inductee/Supplier of the Year (2008), MSAE’s Diamond Award Winner (2009), MMPI’s Mentor of the Year (2011), ESPA’s Member of the Year (2004), ESPA’s President’s Award Recipient (2009) and ESPA’s Executive Excellence Award Recipient (2013).

Ms. Pingston can be contacted at 517-377-1412 or jpingston@lansing.org

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.