Editorial Board   Guest Author

Ms. Heston

Michelle Heston

Regional Director of Public Relations, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Michelle Heston serves as the Regional Director of Public Relations for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. In this role she oversees the marketing communication and public relations efforts for eight luxury holdings in the western US and Hawaii. In addition to media outreach, advertising and brand communication activities, she is responsible for exploring, cultivating and leveraging cross marketing relationships for the brand. She proudly spearheads Fairmont's regional “green” marketing efforts. Working with the California Coastal Commission for the past several years, Ms. Heston coordinated Fairmont's five drop-in cleanup sites across the Golden State (Newport Beach, Santa Monica, San Jose, San Francisco and Sonoma). Annually over 1,000 colleagues of Fairmont accompanied by friends, family members and recruits scour the state's inland waterways and beaches for litter as part of the annual California Coastal Cleanup Day. Ms. Heston also mentors hotels in the region to serve as environmental ambassadors in their local communities. Working with each property's green team she leads the design and implementation of each property's eco-signature project. These projects include relationships with Heal the Bay, CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) and the Sonoma Ecology Center in Northern California. Supporting Fairmont's commitment to sustainable tourism and environmental stewardship, she recently designed and coordinated an impressive fundraising campaign for California's “Save our Parks” initiative. She has earned an MBA and regularly lectures in the areas of marketing, public relations, advertising and social media. Married and a mother of two daughters she and her family currently reside in eco-conscious Marin County, California.

Ms. Heston can be contacted at 707-939-2477 or michelle.heston@fairmont.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.