Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Raz

Jonathan M. Raz

Director of Food & Beverage, Waldorf Astoria Orlando

With nearly 20 years of experience in food and banquet operations, Jonathan M. Raz brings a passion for innovative cuisine to his position as director of food and beverage at Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. Mr. Raz manages the F&B operations of the hotel complex, including 12 dining outlets, in-room dining service for 1,500 guest rooms and an extensive banquet facility. Offering over eight years of experience as director of food and beverage under the Hilton umbrella, Mr. Raz plays a pivotal role in the property's renowned culinary program, where he works with more than 150 chefs to develop delectable dining experiences and creative group catering menus that continue to earn top honors in food and beverage excellence. Mr. Raz's greatest joy comes from developing original restaurant and bar concepts that provide guests with a customized dining experience. A natural leader, Mr. Raz relishes mentoring and collaborating with his culinary team, helping them hone their skills and push creative boundaries. Exposed to the food operations business at an early age by his father, a food and beverage director himself, Mr. Raz constantly challenges his chefs to develop new approaches to their cooking with a focus on creating ahead-of-the-trend menus that still evoke the comforts of classic dishes. While the majority of his day is spent in operations, Mr. Raz makes time to interact with guests and strives to provide an unforgettable dining experience for every visitor who sets foot in his restaurants. Mr. Raz began his career as the banquet manager at DoubleTree Guest Suites in New York City, working his way up to assistant director of banquets and events at the Waldorf Astoria New York, where he oversaw the operation of presidential dinners and exclusive galas. He continued his career with Hilton as assistant director of food and beverage at Hilton Americas and as director of food and beverage at Hilton Baltimore before his most recent position as director of food and beverage at Hilton Orlando, overseeing all kitchen operations, budgeting and restaurant concepts. Mr. Raz made a name for himself as a culinary leader when he helped open Hilton Baltimore, recruiting all leadership positions and directly supervising the executive chef, director of catering, director of banquet operations and assistant director of food and beverage. An avid cook, Mr. Raz brings his culinary expertise home with him, where he enjoys spending quality time with his wife and three children, dining out and finding time for an occasional round of golf. Please visit http://www.hilton.com for more information.

Mr. Raz can be contacted at 407-597-5500 or jonathan.raz@hilton.com

Coming up in June 2018...

Sales & Marketing: Opinions Matter

Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors manage a complex mix of strategies to attract and convert customers into guests. Part of their expertise includes an awareness of customer behavior during the reservation process, so they can make sure their hotel is favorably positioned. One such trend is the growing popularity of travel review sites. According to one recent survey, 61% of prospective customers consult online reviews in order to validate information about the hotel before making a purchasing decision. Another survey found that the average hotel customer reads between 6-12 reviews across 4-10 properties before making a final decision on where to stay. Similarly, other studies have shown that consumer reviews are a more trusted source of information for prospective customers than other kinds of marketing messaging. In fact, reviews are often considered to be as influential as price regarding whether a customer decides to complete a purchase or not. Plus, travel sites with the most reviews - including recent reviews from satisfied customers and thoughtful responses from staff - were also found to be the most appealing. So having positive reviews on a travel website is essential and can help to increase a hotel's conversion rates dramatically. Of course, there are all kinds of additional marketing strategies for sales and marketing directors to consider - the importance of video and the emergence of live streaming; the implementation of voice search; the proliferation of travel bots; and the development of Instagram as an e-commerce platform. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.