Editorial Board   

Mr. Hefler

Lawrence Hefler

Principal, Hefler International

Lawrence Hefler, principal of Hefler International and founder of BrandShares, is an accomplished marketer, whose vision and expertise in consumer marketing have driven results in the travel, leisure, and hospitality sectors. His depth of experience and understanding of shared and fractional ownership, residence clubs, and the evolving leisure real estate industry are the driving force behind BrandShares. The Hefler expertise in branding and marketing helps companies find, understand, keep, and grow customers - thereby building the value of their brand share. His mantra is that more than marketing, branding and sales training are critical in to compete in the marketplace. Mr. Hefler is the former Vice President, Brand Marketing at Hilton Grand Vacations Company. At Hilton, he led global advertising, branding, marketing, e Business and strategic alliances. Before his five years at Hilton, he was senior manager at Walt Disney where he led the transformation of Disney Vacation Development and other Parks and Resorts niche business units into e-business organizations. Prior to entering the hospitality industry, he held senior marketing management roles with Fortune 500 brands including American Express, BellSouth, and Boise Cascade.

Mr. Hefler can be contacted at 407-644-7840 or hefler@cfl.rr.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.