Valencia Rainey, Sofitel New York

Valencia Rainey, IACC Certification, Director of Group Sales at Sofitel New York (AccorHotels)

Pivotal Moments: Throughout my career, I have always liked having the ability to better myself for the benefit of my clients, so when the opportunity arose to join a luxury hotel such as Sofitel New York, I couldn’t pass it up. I can now say with great confidence that my time at the hotel has given me a more refined sense of service, as well as a comprehensive understanding of how best to meet the needs of today’s meeting planner.

Role of Hospitality Sector in the World: As a salesperson in the hospitality sector, I feel that my job is to be the bridge between what my client is trying to accomplish and how we at the hotel can best provide that experience. The hospitality industry serves a similar function. In hotels, we bring people together to accomplish vital business that helps keep the world moving, and we do this while providing an exceptional experience that encourages guests to network, relax and enjoy their surroundings.

One Thing You Do to Help Planners Create Brilliant Experiences: In the Sofitel brand, everything starts and ends with cousu main, a French expression that means guests receive hand-tailored service from the heart. Our ambassadors are therefore always looking for ways to go above and beyond expectations, not only with guests, but with each other. Keeping this ideal in mind makes providing an impressive and impactful stay or meeting part of our daily work and is what guests have grown to expect during their time at Sofitel New York.


Erin Adams, AC Hotel National Harbor by Marriott International

Erin Adams, General Manager at AC Hotel National Harbor by Marriott International

Pivotal Moments: I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology but discovered that I loved hospitality when I joined Marriott as a front desk agent in 2009. From there, I quickly learned that I had a love and passion for creating amazing experiences for guests and my teams, which led to seven leadership promotions throughout different brands and hotels in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia markets.

Role of Hospitality Sector in the World: The hospitality sector is the conduit for travel experiences. Whether traveling for business or leisure, people today want a personalized and memorable experience that encompasses the unique destinations they are in. It is our job to seamlessly provide that to each of our guests.

One Thing You Do to Help Planners Create Brilliant Experiences: At AC Hotel National Harbor, we provide attendees with a sophisticated and frictionless experience that encourages meetings to flow across the entire hotel. Our spaces are beautiful, uplifting and thoughtful, which provides the ideal environment for creativity to flourish and adds opportunities for groups to re-energize and refocus. AC Hotel has many exciting experiences for our guests and attendees, from our community espresso and coffee offering to our lavender turndown sachets. My personal favorite experience is our evening Porron ritual, where a traditional Spanish-glass wine pitcher is passed around the group to encourage community, a sense of belonging and signifying that the work day is complete, and it is time to unwind.


Vince LaRuffa, Universal Orlando Resort

Vince LaRuffa, Senior Vice President, Resort Marketing and Sales at Universal Orlando Resort

Pivotal Moments: The path to success in any organization today is paved with effective collaboration and partnership.

Role of Hospitality Sector in the World: Our fundamental place in the universe is to promote and facilitate travel, enabling individuals and families to share experiences that enrich and enhance their lives. Our ability as an industry to welcome visitors into our homes and businesses and treat them with the ultimate hospitality is a privilege I have never taken for granted.

One Thing You Do to Help Planners Create Brilliant Experiences: Our powerful combination of Universal Orlando’s world-class entertainment and Loews Hotels’ first-class accommodations creates a meeting destination unlike anywhere else in the world. We offer thrills from some of the most popular entertainment brands, and we provide totally immersive experiences that help organizations connect with attendees in ways that are truly memorable.

We are continuously seeking innovative ways to help planners create compelling experiences for their attendees. One example is meeting enhancement, which combines the excitement of our parks with meeting themes. Planners can incorporate character interruptions, customizable performers and unique entertainment elements into their meeting—creating unforgettable programs that leave attendees in amazement.


Monique Rodriguez, Rose Bowl Stadium

Monique Rodriguez, Director of Sales for Special Events at Rose Bowl Stadium

Pivotal Moments: After working with Rose Bowl Stadium events department, beginning as an event intern in 2009 and moving to a full-time event coordinator by 2011, I took an offer for career growth in event sales, working with American Golf and Lucky Strike Entertainment. Two years later, I was led back to Rose Bowl Stadium to accept my current role.

Role of Hospitality Sector in the World: Our role is to provide unforgettable life experiences for our guests. Everyone knows what it’s like to step outside of our day-to-day work life and want to experience a five-star “wow” moment with great customer service, attention to detail, delectable food and beverage offerings, paired with unique, picturesque atmospheres. These experiences make our day and give us something to rave about to our family and friends. No pressure, but a lot of pressure.

One Thing You Do to Help Planners Create Brilliant Experiences: One of the many things our company does to help planners create a once-in-a-lifetime experience is to customize everything and anything we can for each group, providing exceptional customer service and keen attention to detail. From customized, painted company logos on our stadium field, and video-board packages with live event-streaming options on all our plasma screens to changing our world-famous Rose Bowl marquee lights under our Court of Champions to company colors, we make it all about the group. We customize locker-room name plates and swag and offer complimentary social media packaging and stadium website event support. We go the extra yard to ensure a special experience. The same event staff that plans and executes the world’s most historic collegiate bowl games, concerts and soccer matches are the experts running all of our events, detailing every one with the same attentiveness. Our company cares about our clients and their guest experiences, striving to make sure every event is perfect and brilliant every time.


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