Editorial Board   Guest Author

Ms. Bowden

Barb Bowden

Director, Corporate Revenue Management, Peabody Hotels

Barbara Bowden serves as general manager of The Peabody Orlando and the director of corporate revenue management for Peabody Hotels. A native of St. Louis, MO., Ms. Bowden began her hotel career in 1984 at the front desk of the Buena Vista Palace Hotel in Orlando, Fla. Two years later when The Peabody Orlando opened its doors for business on November 1, 1986, she joined the hotel as front desk supervisor. As general manager, Ms. Bowden is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the 1,641-room hotel. Since being appointed to this role in February 2010, Ms. Bowden helped lead The Peabody Orlando's $450-million expansion which was completed in September 2010. Most recently under her leadership, The Peabody Orlando was once again awarded with the coveted Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star rating for the 23rd consecutive year, making it the largest non-gaming hotel in the United States with this distinction. In addition to her role as general manager, Ms. Bowden is responsible for the creation and implementation of the corporate revenue management and distribution infrastructure for Peabody Hotels, including organizational structure, strategy, supporting processes and operations, internal education and training. Currently, Ms. Bowden serves as Chair for the Board of Directors of the Americas Region of Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), and is past-chairperson of the HSMAI Revenue Management Special Interest Group. In addition, she holds a position on Visit Orlando's Board of Directors. Her years with The Peabody Orlando have been star-studded. She won the Department Head of the Quarter, 1989; Department Head of the Year, 1995; General Manager's Special Achievement Award for Excellence, 1998; Peabody Hotel Group Rooms Division Leadership Award, 1999, and Peabody Hotel Group's President's Award for Excellence, 2006.

Ms. Bowden can be contacted at 407-352-4000 or barb.bowden@peabodyhotels.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.