Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Vargo

Dan Vargo

Executive Chef, Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

A native of Maryland, Executive Chef Dan Vargo was first introduced to the culinary world along Florida's Emerald Coast, where he discovered and began to pursue his passion for food. Now a 16-year veteran of the culinary industry, he has traveled the world, exploring kitchens and cultures, as he carefully honed his skills and developed his signature style. Chef Vargo first joined the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa team in April 2012 as an Executive Chef at Seagar's Prime Steaks & Seafood, the resort's award-winning, AAA Four-Diamond restaurant. Before joining Hilton Sandestin Beach, Chef Vargo dedicated eight years to the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida, where he held a number of positions, including Executive Sous Chef and Restaurant Chef. He also spent two years as Executive Sous Chef at The Boathouse Club in Martha's Vineyard. Named Executive Chef of the 602-room beachfront resort in February 2017, Chef Vargo skillfully blends Baltimore's traditional and historical influences, Martha's Vineyard's emphasis on organic produce and seasonal seafood, and the Ritz-Carlton's world-class standards for fine dining and excellence in service into the Hilton Sandestin Beach experience. Graduating with honors from Baltimore International College in 2002, Chef Vargo earned a prestigious internship through The American Studies Institute, taking him to The Park Hotel in Ireland. Chef Vargo was also selected as a member of Ritz-Carlton's domestic and international recruiting team sent to South Africa and Peru, where he cooked for orphanages and shelters. Since joining Hilton Sandestin Beach, Chef Vargo has been featured on Emeril's Florida, Atlanta Eats and Golf Channel's Morning Drive with Matt Ginella, and at events such as BlogHer Food in Miami, Music City Food & Wine Festival in Nashville, and Boudin, Bourbon and Beer in New Orleans. Chef Vargo was also selected as the People's Choice winner in the 2013 inaugural 30A Throwdown competition and Critics Choice winner in the 2014 competition. Please visit http://hiltonsandestinbeach.com for more information.

Mr. Vargo can be contacted at 850-267-9500 or dvargo@hiltonsandestinbeach.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.