Editorial Board   Guest Author

Ms. Maher

Melissa Maher

Senior Vice President - Global Partner Group, Expedia, Inc

As the leader of the Global Partner Group for Expedia, Inc., Melissa Maher spearheads all aspects of global business relationships with the company's top hotel partners.  Ms. Maher has taken an active role in driving significant discussions within the hospitality industry regarding issues affecting lodging supply partners and key stakeholders in the online travel space.

Ms. Maher oversees the teams responsible for creating new initiatives, driving the strategy behind negotiations, distribution, and connectivity for Expedia's chains, key accounts, and independent partnerships. She also leads Expedia's gaming lodging supply division.

As part of her role, Ms. Maher also manages the Global Partner Marketing team which strives to enhance relationships with key partners including large and regional brands, connectivity providers, ownership groups, management companies, and industry associations, along with executing marketing communications and global partner events.

During her tenure with Expedia, Ms. Maher has been passionate in driving meaningful dialogue about women in leadership within the company and hospitality industry.

Previously, Ms. Maher served as regional director with Expedia, with oversight of the Nevada/gaming lodging division. Prior to joining Expedia in 2001, Maher opened the Paris Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas as the director of conference center sales. She also served as director of tour and conference sales with the Las Vegas Hilton.

Ms. Maher received an M.B.A. and a B.S. in hotel administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Ms. Maher can be contacted at 702-938-2347 or MMaher@expedia.com

Coming up in September 2020...

Hotel Group Meetings: Demand vs. Supply

It is a great time for hotel group meetings. It is expected that once again this sector will grow by 5-10% in 2020, partly due to the increasing value of in-person group meetings. Because people now spend so much time in front of their screens, face-to-face interactions have become a more treasured commodity in our modern world. Plus, the use of social media reinforces the value of engagement, discussion, conversation, and networking - all areas where group meetings shine. Despite this rosy outlook, there is a concern that demand for meetings far exceeds the supply of suitable venues and hotels. There are very few "big box" properties with 500-plus rooms and extensive conference facilities being built, and this shortage of inventory could pose a serious challenge for meeting planners. In addition to location concerns, the role of the meeting planner has also evolved significantly. Planners are no longer just meeting coordinators - they are de facto travel agents. Cultural interactions, local dining, experiential travel, and team-building activities are all now a part of their meeting mix. Plus, they have to cater to evolving tastes. Millennials are insisting on healthier venues and activities, and to meet their demands, hotels are making yoga breaks, fresh-pressed juices, plant-based diets, state-of-the-art gyms, and locally-sourced menus available. Millennials are also insisting that meeting venues practice Corporate Social Responsibility, which means upholding sustainable and ethical values; investment in the local community; health and well-being of employees; and general business practices that reflect being good citizens of the planet. Finally, there is a growing trend to merge meetings with other local events, such as music festivals, sporting events, and cultural attractions. The December Hotel Business Review will report on issues relevant to group meetings and will document what some hotels are doing to support this part of their operations.