Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Gilbert

Robert Gilbert

President & CEO, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association Int. (HSMAI)

For the last decade, Bob Gilbert has been guiding HSMAI through an exciting period of change. At the helm of what has become the definitive hospitality and travel marketing association in the world, he has made tremendous strides and enjoyed great successes as he's worked to establish HSMAI as the industry champion in identifying and communicating trends in the hospitality industry. During his tenure, HSMAI has launched a number of initiatives. In keeping with its overall objective to create relevance for its members and to be a vital information source for the industry at large, HSMAI has created Special Interest Groups (SIG) in five key industry segments: Travel Internet Marketing; Revenue Management; Resort Marketing; Hotel Director of Sales & Marketing and Sales and Marketing Faculty. Each SIG is strategically focused on the needs and concerns of its individual discipline and constituency, and reaches out to educate and inform its members through initiatives such as strategy conferences, webinars and publications. Furthermore, under Mr. Gilbert's guidance HSMAI has strengthened its chapters worldwide, with presence now in North America, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia/Pacific. Prior to joining HSMAI in 1995 (in an executive capacity), Mr. Gilbert was the vice president of marketing for Richfield Hospitality Services, Inc., at the time, the largest hotel management company in the world, where he oversaw the corporate marketing support for all Richfield hotels, which included product from every price tier in the industry. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and has been a member of HSMAI since joining the student chapter at Cornell. He is a frequent guest lecturer at the School and is on the adjunct faculty of the summer executive education program. Mr. Gilbert serves on the Board of Directors of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and the Convention Industry Council (CIC), is on the HITEC Advisory Council, and is also on the Board of Trustees for the World Tourism Foundation as well as the Travel and Tourism Coalition of the Travel Industry Association of America.

Mr. Gilbert can be contacted at 703-506-3280 or bgilbert@hsmai.org

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.