Editorial Board   

Mr. Fernandez, Sr.

Gerald Fernandez, Sr.

President & Founder, Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance

Gerald A. "Gerry" Fernandez, Sr., is president and founder of the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA), a national non-profit organization that promotes the social and economic benefits of diversity and inclusion in the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry. He founded the Alliance by garnering support from premier sponsors Cargill, Coca-Cola Company, General Mills Corporation, Nation's Restaurant News and PepsiCo, Inc. to create the MFHA charter in 1996. Gerry began his career with General Mills in 1992 in research and development and was eventually promoted to National Account Manager, Foodservice Sales. It was in this position that he founded the Alliance, after which, in March of 1997, he became a loaned executive to MFHA. Gerry currently conducts lectures and workshops for some of America's best-known companies, organizations and brands. Prior to joining General Mills, he spent more than 10 years as senior manager, opening and operating fine-dining restaurants for the company now known as RARE Hospitality. Earlier in his career, Gerry held various leadership positions in many fine-dining establishments, including The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Gerry holds a Bachelor of Science degree in foodservice management from Johnson & Wales University, where he also earned a culinary arts degree in 1976. The university awarded him an honorary Doctorate in business administration in 1999. Gerry is married, has three sons, three grandchildren and lives with his wife, Debra (Jackson), in Warwick, Rhode Island.

Mr. Fernandez, Sr. can be contacted at 401-461-6342 or gerry.fernandez@mfha.net

Coming up in June 2020...

Sales & Marketing: Technology Rules

It is impossible for any hotel to develop an effective sales and marketing plan that doesn't include a wide-ranging digital strategy. Online platforms have impacted virtually every aspect of their business, due to major changes in how Internet users research, plan, and book their hotel visits. As a result, a successful plan includes generating traffic through the use of a hotel website, social media, email and a myriad of other digital marketing technologies. One such strategy uses data collection and automation technology to create personalized content to individual customers. The goal of personalization marketing is to engage potential customers by communicating with them as individuals - to establish a more personal relationship - as a way of encouraging them to visit a property. Video marketing is also extremely important. Showing someone authentic video from a specific location is immersive and engaging, and video is still the preferred way for customers to interact with a hotel brand. Voice and Visual Search are increasingly in demand, as consumers are moving away from typing queries into a search engine. Instead, they can simply speak their request into their phone, and find and book a hotel without ever typing a word. Similarly, other platforms allow consumers to search visually for almost any image, and find out pricing information, shopping comparisons and how-to-buy - all from the app. The adoption of Artificial Intelligence is also becoming popular. The ability of chatbots to answer simple questions or fulfill requests 24/7 is undeniably appealing. In addition, A.I. seems best positioned to qualify leads that can be later nurtured and closed by a human sales expert - all at a fraction of the cost of a traditional support team. The June Hotel Business Review will examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating these innovative technologies into their operations.