Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Belmonte

Steven Belmonte

CEO, Vimana Franchise Systems LLC

Since becoming the youngest general manager in the history of Holiday Inn at the age of 18 and later buying the hotel he started at, to holding the title of longest standing President of a national franchised hotel chain while at the helm of the Ramada hotel chain, Steven J. Belmonte brings new meaning to the phrase “from the mailroom to the Boardroom.”

In 2002, Mr. Belmonte returned to his entrepreneurial roots and launched Hospitality Solutions LLC, a full-service, nationwide consultation firm specializing in lodging industry issues at the hotel and corporate level. Drawing on over 35 years of experience and key contacts both inside and outside of the industry, Hospitality Solutions was specifically designed to offer franchise negotiation services for hotel, restaurant, and quick service restaurant owners nationwide.

In 2002, Mr. Belmonte launched Vimana Franchise Systems LLC. In May 2011, Vimana Franchise Systems launched the Centerstone brand as a three-segment franchise designed to create a fair and cost effective model for the hospitality industry.

In November 2011, Key West Inns was re-launched under the Vimana Franchise ownership umbrella as a fun and uniquely themed leisure brand.

Prior to Hospitality Solutions, for nearly 11 years Mr. Belmonte was President and CEO of the Ramada hotel chain, which had over 1,000 hotels and nearly 135,000 hotel rooms throughout the United States. He also served as Executive Vice President of the Cendant Hotel Division. Major accomplishments included more than doubling the size of the chain, adding the Ramada Limited and Ramada Plaza Hotel tiers, and launching the bold "Ramada's In/Holiday's Out" advertising campaign.

As part of his plan to solidly position the Ramada chain in the upper-mid-tier segment, Mr. Belmonte also masterminded the revolutionary customer service initiative, Personal Best Hospitality, which offered tuition reimbursement and a variety of other incentives to foster a career path in the hotel industry.

Please visit http://www.vimanafs.com for more information.

Mr. Belmonte can be contacted at 407-654-5540 or steve@vimanafs.com

Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. 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.