Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Gilbert

David Gilbert

President - Hospitality Group, Heartland Payment Systems

With more than 30 years of hospitality experience and a track record of leading successful growth while developing and maintaining brand identity and implementing strategic change, David Gilbert is responsible for the growth and development of Heartland's portfolio and services within several industries, including restaurants, lodging and affiliated markets. Prior to joining Heartland, the nation's 5th largest payment processor, Mr. Gilbert was the chief operating officer of the National Restaurant Association (NRA), the restaurant industry's largest and most respected trade organization. In this role from 2009-2012, Mr. Gilbert focused on guiding the organization in its ongoing efforts to provide and develop valuable products, services and benefits to help the industry and the Association's members. He was also responsible for all operations, sales, business/product development, strategic relationships and financial analysis of the association and its subsidiaries. Before the NRA, Mr. Gilbert spent several years as a restaurant and hospitality industry consultant, and held several executive positions with national chains, including chief administrative officer with Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., executive vice president and chief administrative officer with Shoney's Inc., and executive director of development with Applebee's International, Inc. His background also includes operations, product development and management experience in the quick service, casual dining and family dining segments. A resident of Nashville, TN, Mr. Gilbert holds a bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant administration from Florida State University. He is also a member of the National Restaurant Association, the International Council of Shopping Centers and the West Virginia University Hospitality Board of Advisors.

Mr. Gilbert can be contacted at 888-798-3131 ext. 2281 or david.gilbert@e-hps.com

Coming up in September 2019...

Hotel Group Meetings: Uncommon Destinations

The last few years have been good to the Hotel Group Meetings industry and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. Planners are brimming with confidence due to an expanding economy and increased job creation, which typically results in a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are trying to outdo themselves to satisfy the high expectations of their clients. One notable trend is to integrate unusual settings into the meeting experience, hosting groups at local zoos, aquariums, museums, event centers, or other outdoor facilities. The goal is to embrace uncommon destinations, rather than a typical hotel conference room, so that meetings can be memorable, unique and stimulating. This is also part of another trend which is to support all things local - from hosting events at landmark city venues; to catering through local restaurants, food trucks and microbreweries; to hosting off-site excursions like agri-tours, athletic events or scenic 5k routes. However, though the setting might be spectacular, there are still some bedrock components that must be provided to ensure a successful meeting. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi is still one of the most requested services. Planners have to make sure that a comprehensive communication infrastructure is in place so clients can easily connect - and stay connected - to the network throughout the entire meeting experience. Also, technology tools can be used to streamline the booking, registration, and check-in process, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) materials can be utilized to ensure seamless access to conference events. There are also numerous software tools that encourage audience participation, as well as integrating polls, Q&A, surveys and games into speakers' presentations. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.