The Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) is the most prestigious group of sales and marketing officers in our country’s hotel industry. This 41-year-old organization is in the forefront of providing the professionals in this segment of our tourism industry with tools, insights, and expertise to keep them abreast with the continuously evolving hotel and resort business.
Believing that excellence should be recognized, HSMA launched Virtus Awards five years ago. This groundbreaking, multi-category competition provides the hotel sales and marketing professionals a platform to tell their stories of excellence and success.
This popular tourism industry contest highlights the competitors’ customer and business-focused strategies as well as their innovative and creative programs that bring about measurable results and return on investments to their respective properties.
Although the country’s hotel industry faced seemingly insurmountable challenges brought about by the current pandemic, Virtus Awards Chair Rose Libongco decided to push through with the annual event, albeit virtually, to further underscore the hotel sales and marketing professionals’ indomitable spirit. Besides, the HSMA continued to be active and made itself available to its customers and stakeholders, in spite of cessation of tourist arrivals resulting from the pandemic’s closure of international borders.
Taking into consideration the current difficulties and struggles experienced by the industry, HSMA thought it best to come up with three Champions of Resilience Awards, to recognize the contributions of individuals and institutional teams in addressing the challenges of the pandemic since the lockdown in March of last year.
Winner for the Individual Category of the Resilience Awards is Maria Elena Cecille Daugdaug, sales manager of Quest Hotel and Conference Center in Cebu. She displayed remarkable dedication, perseverance, business agility, and incredible resilience at the height of the pandemic. Not only did she protect the business, she also grew the business which contributed to the retention of a large percentage of hotel staff, according to HSMA Chair Margarita Munsayac.
The Team Category was won by Luxent Hotel, led by its general manager Melanie Pagkalinawan, which ensured the safety and well-being of its employees and their families through mental health awareness and alternative platforms to earn money as partner-providers of the hotel. The employees were fully engaged in proactively increasing revenue streams of the hotel while reducing its expenses during this time of adversity.
Winning the Marketing Communications Category is Chroma Hospitality, spearheaded by Carmela Bocanegra, vice president of marketing and sales. Its marketing campaign, “Safely Apart, Closer At Heart” is the most comprehensive and well-planned campaign. Its clear messaging is the “most digi-centric,” shifting strategies and priorities in the online sphere not only to thrive amid today’s unusual challenges but also to bounce back stronger, explains Munsayac. The interesting and fast-paced video may be viewed any time on YouTube.
Other winners this year are Erika Denice Patajo, events executive of Okada Manila, as Outstanding Sales and Marketing Associate; Pio Sanchez, senior sales manager of El Nido Resorts, as Outstanding Sales and Marketing Manager; Eun Joo Bae, director of Sales-FIT of Conrad Manila, as Outstanding Sales and Marketing Leader; and Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, represented by Dave Pimentel, director of marketing and communications, and Margot Calimon, public relations manager, for its Outstanding Marketing Campaign, “Bid To Forever.”
HSMA President Christine Ann Ibarreta lauds the many hotel sales and marketing professionals who participated in this year’s competition, and proudly banners the Virtus Awards as “a timely reminder of the determination, innovation, and commitment of hotel sales and marketing professionals across the country.”
And, I hasten to add, with people like these whose spirit knows no fear, I am confident that our country’s tourism industry will bounce back even stronger, sooner than later.
HSMA and these Virtus Awardees are the shining paradigm that strength doesn’t only come from what one can do, but also from overcoming the things one once thought he couldn’t do.