Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Willingham

Don Willingham

Vice President, Brand Performance & Sales Support, Hilton Garden Inn

As vice president of brand performance support and sales, Don Willingham oversees the upscale, yet affordable, brand's regional brand performance support (BPS) team in operations and sales and marketing support. Additionally, Mr. Willingham provides direction to other shared service departments within Hilton Worldwide regarding the direction of Hilton Garden Inn. This includes product quality and innovation, as well as customer relationship management and training, operational support, brand sales and distribution, and the new brand openings teams. His overarching goal is for his team to provide the guidance, training, tools and resources for all hotels and ownership groups. A 20-plus year veteran of the hospitality industry, Mr. Willingham has served in a wide array of capacities, ranging from brand sales support to training and operations. He has a long-time tenure with Hilton Worldwide and played different integral roles in regional operations and development training for the Hampton, Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites and Doubletree brands. Most recently, Mr. Willingham was the senior director, brand sales for Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites by Hilton. Since 2000, Mr. Willingham work with the Homewood Suites brand serving as a regional brand performance support director overseeing more than 30 hotels, as well as facilitating the brand's extended stay sales training. He moved into the senior director, brand sales role in 2003 and was vital in the launch of the Home2 Suites by Hilton brand, as well as the creation of and leadership behind the Homewood Suites sales strategies and programs. Mr. Willingham graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with a bachelor of science in Business Administration and a major in marketing. After graduating college, he worked for several hotels in the Atlanta area and went on to become the general manager at two Atlanta Hampton Inn hotels. He joined Promus Hotels as a training manager, where he was responsible for sales, pre-opening, and leadership development training

Mr. Willingham can be contacted at 703-883-1000 or don.willingham@hilton.com

Coming up in February 2020...

Social Media: Social Listening Tools

The reach and influence of social media is staggering. Nearly 3 billion people use social media daily, posting a range of messages, selfies, images, and everything in-between. According to HubSpot, almost 4 million posts are uploaded to the major social networks every single minute! That's an astounding amount of content and it is crucial for hotels to skillfully use social media in order to effectively compete. From establishing a suitable brand identity and voice to creating content across all the major networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.), the goal is to actively engage consumers and to eventually convert them to customers. Some hotels are initiating online contests as a way to attract new customers, while others are rewarding customers with discounts who subscribe to the their email lists or follow their social media pages. Another recent strategy is to employ social media listening tools that track what people are posting online about their businesses. These tools allow hotels to monitor - or listen to - what's being said about a brand across the entire social web, and this can prove to be very valuable, unfiltered information. Social listening permits hotels to be aware of people's opinions about their business, industry or competitors, and some of these tools even listen beyond social media platforms. They also monitor publicly available information on blogs, forums, news outlets and websites. Some listening tools are more focused on gathering and analyzing data, while others offer more engagement-oriented features, which allow hotels to interact with people right from the platform. Often the information that is gleaned from these listening tools ends up being the most authentic, unbiased insights a business can get. The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to successfully integrate social media strategies into their operations.