Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. McDowell

Robert McDowell

Senior Vice President, Global Distribution, Choice Hotels International

Robert McDowell is senior vice president of global distribution for worldwide lodging franchisor Choice Hotels International, Inc. (NYSE: CHH). In this role, he is responsible for the development and execution of Choice's growing global, multi-channel marketing and distribution strategy. Additionally, Mr. McDowell oversees all direct distribution channels, revenue management, global sales and marketing channels, eCommerce, and all channel partner relationships. Prior to joining choice, Mr. McDowell spent 15 years with United Airlines. During this time, Mr. McDowell was the managing director of distribution and E-commerce. As the acting director, Mr. McDowell formulated effective E-commerce and distribution strategy. In addition, he often delved into the rigors of negotiating credit card fees and GDS budgets on behalf of the airline. Mr. McDowell also served as chief operating officer for C&H International, a $600 million international travel agency, overseeing the company's daily operations. Mr. McDowell earned his master's degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame and his bachelor's degree from the New York Institute of Technology.

Mr. McDowell can be contacted at 301-592-5186 or robert_mcdowell@choicehotels.com

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.