Editorial Board   Guest Author

Ms. Velez-Couto

Maite Velez-Couto

Vice President, rbb Communications

Maite Velez-Couto, a Vice President at rbb Communications, brings a broad range of media relations, consumer product marketing and branding experience to the firm. Throughout her career, she has handled integrated communications campaigns for a wide variety of consumer clients - from travel and food and beverage to fashion and entertainment brands including, but not limited to AMResorts, Hampton by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn by Hilton, Norwegian Cruise Line, Vlasic pickles, Mrs. Butterworth's syrup, Starbucks Coffee Company, and Feld Entertainment. Ms. Velez-Couto has vast knowledge of regional and national media, community relations and special events. She currently focuses on rbb's hospitality and food and beverage clients, managing multiple award-winning programs including recipients of PRSA's “Silver Anvil,” Holmes Report's “Gold SABRE”, and HSMAI's Adrian Awards. Her experience also includes supporting clients' efforts in Mexico, Colombia, the Caribbean and Spain. Ms. Velez-Couto graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelor's degree in Spanish Literature and an associate degree in architecture, and from Florida International University with a bachelor's degree in Humanities and post graduate studies in Spanish Language Journalism. She currently resides in Coral Gables.

Ms. Velez-Couto can be contacted at 305-783-3140 or maite.velez-couto@rbbcommunications.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.