Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Habeeb

Robert Habeeb

President & Chief Executive Officer, First Hospitality Group, Inc.

Robert Habeeb is a seasoned professional with more than 25 years of high profile, multiunit experience in hotel, resort and food and beverage management. Throughout his career, he has successfully operated hospitality businesses in virtually every aspect of the industry, including luxury, select service, resort hotels, restaurants, and golf and ski operations—in every setting imaginable. After serving as the chief operating officer of the U. S. resort subsidiary of London's Rank Group, PLC (owners of the Hard Rock Cafe's) where he was responsible for a multifaceted portfolio of hotel, restaurant and leisure businesses, Mr. Habeeb joined First Hospitality Group, Inc. in 1997. In 2015, due to his wide reaching industry relationships, proven track record of innovation regarding development opportunities, superior operating performance, and the long tenure of his management team, he was promoted from president and COO to president and CEO. A recognized industry leader, he has won a series of awards, including the Illinois Hotel Association's Hotelier of the Year Award and Global Hotelier of the Year. With a strong passion for educating those pursuing a career in the hospitality industry, Mr. Habeeb serves as a member of the adjunct faculty of Chicago's Roosevelt University, where he teaches at a graduate level in the Manfred Steinfeld School of Hospitality Management. He has served on numerous industry boards and brand advisory councils, including his current seats on the board of directors and executive committee of the American Hotel & Lodging Association and his previous chairmanship of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association.

Mr. Habeeb can be contacted at 847-299-9040 or rhabeeb@fhginc.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.