2022 Catalyst Award: Amplitude Award

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headshot of rory archibaldRory Archibald

Associations & Sectors, VisitScotland Business Events, VisitScotland + Founder & CEO, New Intent 

Motivating force: Bringing people together brings society the opportunity to address global challenges such as poverty, climate action, DEI (diversity equity and inclusion), homelessness, and wellbeing, to name but a few. It’s what gets me up in the morning and it’s the reason I started New Intent in my own time, to help advance how our industry treats its own and advocate for voices less heard by bringing the spotlight back to DEI. We won’t achieve climate action without advocating for DEI; we cannot have one without the other, and the meeting professional has the power to make business events a leading industry in making the world a better place. I’m motivated to deliver the platform, the environment, the connections, and the action to allow meeting professionals to make our society a better place and inspire our future leaders.

Approach to supercharging experiences: The simple answer is connections, collaboration and education. I create networks and collaborations so that when meeting professionals bring an opportunity to me, I can help supercharge that opportunity with connections to bring a new level to the meeting. This means involving organizations from academia, innovation and research centers, private industry and the third sector to bring new connections, foster knowledge sharing, incubate new discoveries and curate international projects that can help solve global challenges.

Delivering workshops as New Intent on DEI can make sure events include everyone. Why? It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s our duty to do this as an industry. By including people from all of society, regardless of gender, sexuality, religion, race, disability, for example, ensures we don’t miss a chance for innovation, new ideas and discoveries; it also shows the business events industry is inclusive and a place the next generation want to build a career. Understanding what meeting professionals want, listening to what residents want, and creating a collaborative proposition is the key to success and the key to our industry putting people and planet first.

Elements of a stellar hospitality career: We cannot underestimate the power of leaders in this industry to influence people in their careers, positively or negatively. There have been many positive influences that have helped guide my path. Industry trade associations have lit a fire in me to follow in their footsteps to create change in the industry, throw out the status quo, and direct business events into a new frontier that brings more meaning to society. Leaders who have guided me, allowed me to run with new ideas and innovations without the far too often used phrase “that’s not how we do things here.” On the flip side, there have been industry events, associations and leaders who have demonstrated being in a rut and that equally put a fire in me, to not accept things staying the same, not accepting being comfortable but pushing against the barriers and advocating for positive change.

Next advance pursuing: In August 2022, I started a small organization called New Intent that I work on in my own time. I want to see DEI being made into a main-stage topic, alongside climate action. I want to see our industry practice what it preaches and put into action DEI practices that consider the audience, the destination, the speaker and the workforce and make our industry the most inclusive in the world that others will follow. DEI and climate change go hand in hand. I believe the business events industry can be a beacon of DEI and climate action, and I want to play a small part in that through my work with New Intent. It’s not good enough to continue how we were in 2019. It’s time now to meet with purpose, meet with values, and meet with New Intent. 

Cara Banasch

Vice President Sales, Omni Hotels & Resorts

Motivating force: Ultimately, our success is all tied together and when we create positive experiences for our meeting professionals, everyone wins with our respective organizational stakeholders. Collectively, there is pride in our industry. We know the benefits of meeting face-to-face drive future meetings so there is an investment to ensure that we are working together to always build and improve. We have the advantage of hosting thousands of events a year and often our exposure to different ideas and concepts assists us to envision extraordinary ideas for our clients when they are building out their programs. When our planners shine, so do we. Our loyalty to one another is the key to building relationships that make our business special.

Approach to supercharging experiences: We are lucky to have a portfolio of very unique hotels with destinations and history that is compelling and interesting to our guests and attendees. A lot of what is “local” can lead us to the right answers in what will be the right mix to augment experiences. Everywhere has a story, maybe a flavorful food scene with dynamic chefs and signature recipes, sometimes music or tradition that is inherent to the location, a local arts scene with vibrant galleries. Sometimes it is a mindset that differentiates a destination like SXSW in Austin or West Coast Living in L.A. When we travel, regardless of whether it is for personal or business, we all look forward to new adventures that bring us fresh perspectives. If we can lean into those drivers and incorporate authentic elements of our local stories, ideally, we naturally land on those “supercharged” experiences that are true differentiators.

Elements of a stellar hospitality career: Early on, I worked as a corporate sales manager for a luxury brand and with no prior hospitality industry exposure it was an incredible new world. I learned from sales and operations leaders who were exceptional at not only at winning business, but developing strong relationships and loyalty which came from supporting clients and associates both personally and professionally. We have the opportunity every day to make a difference for the people around us in small ways like celebrating a personal milestone, or larger ways like mentoring and coaching. That really spoke to me as it feels great to be capable of that positive impact and to do it as a career. In general, I think being a hotelier is an art form in human connection and I appreciated leaders who shared their styles and perspectives that have shaped my own. I hope I can pass some of that along to others who will model their own careers to serve and help those around them both internally and externally.

Next advance pursuing: Most of today’s leaders grew our careers in an industry that had largely enjoyed steady growth and evolution of change. Today, things are changing so rapidly and there is much less time to adapt and respond as a variety of variables are driving different needs for our clients and guests. Our next generation of leaders may need to have altered skill sets and our own business success will depend on our capability to flex and integrate new technologies, standards and processes. It is important to me today that we begin to instill the right professional qualities in our teams and our future leaders so that they can eventually take the industry forward and continue to build success for meetings and conventions in a landscape that will most certainly look different in the future than what we have created over the last few decades.

Jason Cohen

Director of Global Accounts, Meetings and Incentives, Accor

Motivating force: Helping others accomplish their goals, look good and have fun motivates me. I also enjoy building relationships and, as they say, actions speak louder than words, which inspires me.

Approach to supercharging experiences: My approach to experiences is to always keep the end goal in mind (what would success look like?) and always think of about the experience from the guest’s perspective. This usually works!

Elements of a stellar hospitality career: I fell into hospitality as a college student, not thinking I would make it my career. After an internship in what I thought would be my chosen career, I realized hospitality brought me joy, excitement and money. Fortunately, when I started working full-time in hospitality, I had some amazing mentors who shared knowledge with me, pushed me, and encouraged me to take smart chances. Since being at Accor, I gained a much larger global focus, which has exposed me to so many cultures, great destinations and perspectives that I cherish every day.

Next advance you are pursuing: Professionally, I would like to make more time to mentor and assist the next generation in hospitality so they understand that what we do is so much more than a transaction, but an ongoing relationship that we should value and learn from. Personally, I have said I was going to learn basic French for over 10 years, so no time like the present to start. Menu French and basic phrases are not enough.

Craig Davis, CDME

President and CEO, Visit Dallas

Motivating force: I relocated to Dallas almost three years ago and I have absolutely fallen in love with this city. Dallas is beautiful, sophisticated and extremely welcoming to everyone, and my motivation to deliver for meeting professionals is to ensure that they feel confident and proud to have chosen us as the host city for their business event. So much emphasis is placed on the financial and overall success of events, and it motivates me not only to share my adopted home city with visitors, but also to show them the wonderful hotels, attractions and entertainment options we have to offer.

We think about it from the perspective that it’s entirely possible for someone to visit our city as an attendee of a conference and then later choose to relocate their business or family to Dallas. In other words, today’s visitors could be tomorrow’s investors and residents. Additionally, we have an immense responsibility to our community to generate economic impact for Dallas, and that fact alone motivates me to push our team to deliver by providing the best possible experience we can to our meeting planner customers.

Approach to supercharging experiences: Visit Dallas takes a hands-on approach, working closely with meeting professionals to identify their unique goals and ensure they come to fruition. As the city experts, we are intimately familiar with booking patterns and major events in the city and will offer planners full-service support, from RFP sourcing to a detailed, customized site inspection. In addition to traditional venue support, we also assist with finding off-site venues, transportation companies, party/event rentals, technology needs (especially in this new hybrid world), speakers and entertainment, and other specialty providers they may need. We also help meeting attendees maximize their free time through the creation of pre- and post-conference activities, from tours to a sampling of one-day itineraries.

Elements of a stellar hospitality career: First and foremost, the major force was a collection of incredible people who came into my life, starting in the hospitality industry in Toronto, Chicago, Pittsburgh and, now, Dallas. I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with people who intentionally or unintentionally mentored me throughout my career by providing invaluable advice, and examples of what (and NOT what) to do. I’ve learned from the many mistakes I’ve made, and those I’ve witnessed of others. I’ve emulated people who knew well how to manage teams; each experience compounded on the last to shape my career.

The most dramatic lessons learned were by working through several “black swan” events: including the Gulf Wars, September 11th, the financial crisis of 2008, as well as a worldwide pandemic. Each event brought this industry to its knees, and after every experience, I learned how to navigate a little more confidently by trusting my prior experience and lessons learned and leaning on the teams I’ve been fortunate enough to work with over these years. The other force that has helped me immensely is the group of close friends I’ve been lucky enough to cultivate throughout my career who have become my go-to network for advice and counsel; that’s where I can find the answers I can’t figure out on my own.

Next advance pursuing: We have so much to look forward to in the coming months and years in Dallas. Our future is exceedingly bright! I’m personally thrilled about the expansion of the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center and what it will mean for our city. The new convention center will be a game-changer for meeting planners, providing ballroom and breakout space Dallas and our customers need. The center is expected to nearly double annual attendance and associated revenue for Dallas. Additionally, the center will be the anchor for a lively new Convention Center District that will excite convention-goers and revitalize southern Downtown Dallas, making it a place for locals to enjoy alongside our convention attendees. The Convention Center District will be an authentic Dallas urban experience that will include restaurants, retail, lodging and entertainment options. Dallas is already a great meetings and conventions destination, with the accessibility of two major airports, affordable labor and an outstanding hotel product. The expanded center and new Convention Center District will enhance Dallas’ competitive position and put us on par with other destinations.

Denise Naguib

Global Vice President, Sustainability and Supplier Diversity

Marriott International

Motivating force: Meetings bring people together. They provide opportunities for ideas to be shared, solutions to be developed, connections to be made. I thrive in these settings and never leave a meeting without having gained something. Meeting professionals magically and flawlessly pull these experiences together every day! The opportunity to partner with meeting professionals to make sustainability decisions throughout these experiences is my motivator.

In big and small ways, the decisions meeting planners make as they organize dozens or thousands of attendees can have significant impact on people and the planet. As I’ve engaged with many meeting professionals, I realize they have an incredible number of these decisions for every one of these events. Where we can be most successful together is by understanding the opportunities for change and the pain points that limit change and figure out what solutions can help drive more sustainable meetings without adding more to their world.

Given the size and scale of meetings, I am motivated to learn and share so that more meeting professionals can embed sustainability into their meetings and that impact can grow. For me, that’s success for the meetings industry!

Elements of a stellar hospitality career: When I was young, my father designed kitchens and restaurants at hotels in Egypt (where I’m from). One of the perks was that we’d get to visit some of these amazing projects, often in areas that were just starting to be developed for tourism. One hotel experience I remember fondly was eating American burgers and fries at Roy Rogers in the Marriott hotel in Cairo! Yet at the age of 6, I’d already decided that I was going to be a pediatrician, so hospitality was nowhere on my mind.

It wasn’t until I switched majors to focus on sustainability, and eventually moved into environmental education, that hospitality came directly into view. I worked for Jean-Michel Cousteau implementing environmental education programs when a general manager for an upcoming Ritz-Carlton resort called my office. She had learned about our environmental education program and wanted to learn more to consider implementing it at this new property. It didn’t take long to be convinced that this marriage between sustainability and hospitality was a perfect match! That was over 20 years ago and every step along the journey has been full of adventure.

The opportunity to develop an approach to sustainability for hospitality while learning about this amazing industry from the inside has been incredible. Along the way, I’ve been given endless support from leaders, peers, and team members and an open road to take this journey in any direction!

Next advance pursuing: I have always said my role is half education, half influence. I can’t expect people around me to jump in the boat with me unless I help them understand where we are going and why we are going there. I am continuously learning about sustainability, a topic that is complex and rich with change. The issues that need to be addressed for us to live and thrive in a sustainable and just world haven’t changed much. What has changed is the pace at which we need to address these issues.

Translating this information to the business world, to my leaders and peers, customers and guests, meeting planners and suppliers, is complex but critical. For me, a critical area for my own growth is to get better at translating information to action, FAST! We will all benefit from taking quicker action to address these issues, even if we make a few mistakes along the way.

My favorite story is about the little girl that was seen tossing sea stars back into the ocean after a high tide had washed them up. When a gentleman saw her and pointed to the thousands of sea stars up and down the beach, he said, “how do you think you’ll make a difference?” To that, the girl bent down, picked up another sea star and tossed it back into the ocean, turning to the gentleman to say, “I made a difference for that one!” That’s my constant pursuit–to make a difference, early and often!

Dina Fenili Niekamp

Associate Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Brand, Miraval

Motivating force: My main motivations come from delivering meaningful wellness experiences not only for our guests, but also for all Miraval colleagues. It’s important to me that they feel supported in their personal well-being journey and have the resources to help deliver that to our guests. After these past few years, we have seen a huge uptick in group retreats, so I am extremely motivated to help my team create a meaningful and fulfilling experience for these groups. If there has ever been a time when groups could use a mindful retreat to reconnect in a tranquil spa setting, create meaningful bonds, and support each other’s mental well-being, it’s now.

Approach to supercharging experiences: Across the Miraval brand, we want to ensure all guests receive a transformative experience tailored to their needs. We do this by encouraging balance in everything they do and having guests take charge of their wellbeing journey. Our Journeys with Intention are customized for each group and individual based on their goals for the trip/meeting, meaning all experiences are tailored to the group. Journeys with Intention put groups at the center of their wellness experience. We curate personalized experiences that align with what matters most–your connection with yourself, with others, and with the world around you.

Elements of a stellar hospitality career: I started my hospitality career in 2006 when I served as the corporate sales representative at The Four Seasons Hotel and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Chicago. Since then, I’ve served in various sales and marketing roles for several hospitality brands. I joined Miraval Resorts & Spas as Director of Brand & Marketing in August of 2020, and since then I’ve added four sales teams and have been promoted to Associate Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Brand.

In my current position, I lead sales and marketing professionals, providing mentorship, growth and career-building opportunities. In 2021, I spearheaded and established the partnership between Miraval and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to debut a Sensory Journey video series led by award-winning Miraval specialists to promote wellness during a historically difficult time. In a male-dominated industry, I’m proud of what I’ve done throughout my hospitality career and excited to keep leading an exceptional team at Miraval.

Next advance pursuing: We recently announced the expansion of our partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which has been a priority of mine as it focuses on placing a greater emphasis on developing tools and series designed to help care for Miraval colleagues. Through this partnership, we launched a virtual event series titled Inspiring Workplace Wellness with NAMI, which addresses workplace topics important to colleagues, from beating burnout and navigating stressful world events to prioritizing self-care and breaking the stigma of mental illness.

Additionally, I helped form a Miraval Marketing DEI Council earlier this year that we are working to expand. We have introduced colleague sessions and diverse wellness retreats that offer unique opportunities to discuss important topics and shape messaging and events that are impactful and meaningful to our properties. As a team, we are also excited to announce the expansion of the Miraval brand with the Miraval Life in Balance Spa experience to Park Hyatt Aviara in early 2023, the brand’s first property outside of the U.S. Miraval The Red Sea and more exciting advancements to come

Carol Motley

Senior Vice President, Convention Sales and Services, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau

Motivating force: Quite simply put, my energy and passion for our industry. The need to regain the momentum we all experienced in 2019 pre-Covid. Extending myself and delivering on the experience the meeting professional desires to achieve and needs for this rebound is a huge motivator for me. Really listening and hearing what is impacting and driving their decisions and how those decisions can positively impact our quick recovery. The landscape has changed for how we are conducting business. We are rediscovering what we all need to do to create the overall experience. Entrusting one another to deliver that experience is an emotional driver and feeds my soul.

Approach to supercharging experiences: Allowing our customers to share their needs. Our industry has forever been changed. We cannot do business the same way we did four years ago. We cannot be afraid to tackle and create the experience that will support an organization’s redefined goals and objectives as they select destinations that support DEI, sustainability and a welcoming environment for all. Greater Miami and Miami Beach has a long and proud history of being one of the most diverse and welcoming destinations in the world. We strive to create authentic and welcoming experiences for all visitors.

Elements of a stellar hospitality career: It was important for me to know who I was and what I wanted my brand to be in this industry. From there, I determined what I could do. Next, I surrounded myself with leaders and mentors in the industry that believed in my energy, desire and passion for people.

Next advance pursuing: Story Telling! Greater Miami and Miami Beach is experiencing tremendous growth. With more than 3,000 hotel rooms in development; a breathtaking reimagined convention center boasting 500,000 gross sq. ft. of exhibit space, a 60,000-square-foot ballroom and an 800-room Grand Hyatt headquarter hotel attached to the Miami Beach Convention Center slated to open in late 2025, we have a lot to be proud of. I am excited about engaging with our customers and sharing all that’s new and emerging in Greater Miami and Miami Beach!

Andy Paschke

Assistant Managing Director of Sales, Hilton Worldwide

Motivating force: Meeting planning is important and stressful work as planners strive to perfectly design and execute every single detail while aiming to satisfy the unique personalities of each and every delegate, an impossible feat. I learned early in my career that meeting professionals depend on us, look to suppliers as an extension of their own team, and most importantly, they want to trust us like they would trust a friend. Our failure to reciprocate any of those sentiments can’t be an option and continues to motivate me to meet them where they need to be met.

Approach to supercharging experiences: I’ve learned planners want to be inspired with new and fresh content, with something they’ve never seen or done before. So, anytime I can spark a new idea and contribute to solving problems with creative solutions, that’s where I feel I add the most value. I try very hard to stay on top of trends and provide inspiration to my clients.

Elements of a stellar hospitality career: In high school, I knew I wanted to get into the Hospitality Business. Not 100% sure why, as our family didn’t vacation much, I never stayed in big, fancy hotels and I was actually a pretty shy kid. All that said, there was something that drew me in and once I started my working career. I quickly learned the best people in the world work in this industry and that no one works harder or has more fun. So, what were the forces at work that impacted me? Well, it’s never been about me. This industry has always been about the people we work with and the people we serve—which is richly rewarding and gratifying.

Next advance pursuing: I love to win. But it’s not about beating the other guy. For you runners out there, think about that time you got your PR (personal record) or if you like to cook, when you mastered that medium-rare steak. I want to live in this space of continued growth where I can continue to win, help others to win, and add value to those around me—including people in my personal life.

John G. Reyes

Senior Vice President, Chief MCI Sales Officer, Meet Hawaiʻi

Motivating force: Be a solution provider to our meeting customers. Assist in making a memorable attendee experience and be a member of their team. Turn lemons into lemonade. Understand and recognize they have an important job and things won’t go perfectly, but they will have a destination team that supports them.

Approach to supercharging experiences: We are fortunate in Hawaiʻi to provide supercharged experiences because of our culture, community and natural resources. Meet Hawaiʻi is able to showcase Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Maui and the Island of Hawaiʻi as a meeting, convention and incentive destination through the beauty of Hawaiʻi and our amazing hotels, attractions, outdoor venues, convention center with the spirit of aloha.

Elements of a stellar hospitality career: First and foremost my parents. My parents were gracious, kind and loving. They instilled a strong work ethic, the importance of respecting others and doing your best. Secondly, I had great industry mentors who reinforced having your internal compass point true north, being accountable, being authentic and following through. Finally, my wife Sharman and daughter Amanda who remind me that family is the most important and you treat your fellow suppliers and customers like “Ohana” family.

Next advance pursuing: Learning to be mindful and be present–yesterday is gone, today is what we have and tomorrow is not promised. Meditating more, continue to roadbike and live in this moment it is what we have. The Pandemic taught us that. I try to be a better person–it’s hard. : – )

Martha J. Sheridan

President and CEO, Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau; co-chair, Meetings Mean Business Coalition

Motivating force: Boston is a remarkable destination to host a meeting or event. There is an amazing dynamic where our history and our innovation interact every day, creating an inspiring and unique setting for conferences. The core of our mission is to share this story and service the needs of meetings that book Boston. Through all four seasons, we endeavor to deliver excellence while ensuring that a Boston experience is world-class and memorable. We have the amenities and assets to do this, and we pride ourselves on being the go-to organization to make it happen.

Approach to supercharging experiences: It’s all about seamless execution and paying special attention to both ends of the spectrum–so on the one side attending to all the small details that cumulatively matter so much, and on the other end creating a big splash, those ‘wow’ moments that make the overall experience unique and compelling. Partnership matters. In Boston, we have an array of iconic venues, institutions and landmarks that are always eager to support our site visits and our events. Collectively, this creates experiences that are both supercharged and singularly Boston.

Elements of a stellar hospitality career: I’ve been working in this industry for three decades—first as a tour guide, then at a smaller DMO on the sales side, which cultivated my path to becoming CEO of the Providence/Warwick CVB and that ultimately led me to Boston.  These career steps have provided me with key insights into how the travel economy and ecosystem operate.

Being a tour guide, for example, is very much a frontline job where you interact directly with the customer and have to troubleshoot everything. You are responsible for providing excellence in service to ensure that a long-planned vacation goes off without a hitch for legions of travelers. When you are selling a city, it’s about providing expertise but also understanding the most important differentiators for your destination. Moreover, industry trends are always changing, so to be ahead of those trends—or at least in the vanguard—is critical so that you are not reacting with content or initiatives that are scrambled together at the last minute.

Thought leadership is critical. I’m very fortunate to have scores of industry friends, counterparts and colleagues who have influenced my career trajectory by supporting me both personally and professionally. While female CEOs in the travel space are now on the ascendant, this was not always the case and many of us forged tight relationships to support and sustain our collective growth.

Next advance pursuing: The last year has delivered a series of big wins for us. In the fall of 2021, our Tourism Destination Marketing District was officially formed and started generating funds. This year, we won two major sporting events in the 2023 Army-Navy Game and the 2026 FIFA World Cup. These events will showcase Boston like never before and this is just the beginning.

We are determined to host large-scale events that are culturally relevant and deliver global eyes on Boston. Speaking of global, we are diligently recovering our overseas market share, but looking to grow it well beyond what it was in 2019, reinvesting in our traditional markets such as the UK, Canada, Germany and Ireland, but also aggressively growing emerging markets in South America, the Middle East and Asia, including a luxury sales initiative.

We also want to keep telling Boston’s story in ways that are both authentic but perhaps lesser known—the diversity of our neighborhoods, the amazing culinary destination that we’ve become, the rich array of live events and cultural experiences that populate our calendars across all seasons—these are the stories that entice all audiences to come to Boston.

Peggy Williams-Smith

President & CEO, VISIT Milwaukee

Motivating force: At VISIT Milwaukee, we never forget that the work we do with meeting planners is ultimately to benefit our bartenders, servers, housekeepers and all of the 25,000+ hospitality employees in our county alone that rely on travel and tourism to support their families. Let’s face it—I’m also competitive. I want planners to walk away from Milwaukee feeling like they’ve just been on the best site visit yet, and that their Milwaukee convention will be the best one they’ve ever planned. My team and I work incredibly hard to make sure planners leave Milwaukee feeling like they’ve become part of our hospitality family and that a piece of Milwaukee will be with them wherever they go.

Approach to supercharging experiences: We try to personalize as much information and as many of the experiences as we can. We also want those experiences to be immersive; we don’t want planners to just see Milwaukee–they need to feel it and taste the flavors every time they’re here. We also try to bring in community members whenever we can who can be authentic ambassadors for the Milwaukee experience we’re trying to sell. These community members are a secret weapon and our best asset–they bring a personal connection and an authentic warmth that wows planners every time.

Elements of a stellar hospitality career: Both mentors and my love for Milwaukee have shaped my career in hospitality. Whether it was Gerald Rappaport, Nancy Hernandez or Steve and Greg Marcus, I have been lucky enough to benefit from their wisdom, guidance and feedback throughout many phases of my career. I’m also an unabashed Milwaukee enthusiast and always have been. Whether it’s our iconic festivals that honor our history and many cultures or our diverse and world-class culinary scene, it’s my job to promote the heck out of all of the amazing things we offer and most days that’s incredibly easy to do. External forces, too, like the Great Recession, September 11, 2001, and now the pandemic, have also forced me to grow and adapt as a leader in ways I didn’t realize were possible, but have ultimately pushed me to be better.

Next advance pursuing: For the next year and a half, our company will be focused on two things: Filling the Wisconsin Center, which will be doubling in size in 2024, and preparing for the 2024 Republican National Convention. We know both of these events will generate significant interest in and media exposure about Milwaukee and it’s our job to make sure that we turn that interest into booked business. The team has already been busy with some big bookings for the expanded center, but of course, we need to keep that momentum going well past 2024.

Tony Yousfi, CMP

Chief Sales Officer, The Venetian Resort Las Vegas

Motivating force: Meeting professionals are tasked with executing on clear goals and objectives of their meeting or event, and from our side, we’re tasked with making sure that happens while providing an extraordinary guest experience for everyone involved. I think what motivates me is the enthusiasm we all have for this industry and the concerted effort to deliver on the overall vision of a program. We’re in the business of making memories and when you see the buzz and excitement from the organizers and attendees, that’s really rewarding.

Approach to supercharging experiences: We have a customer-focused approach, but that begins with our team members. They are experts in their verticals and work to understand the specific needs of the customer and provide that unmatched guest service. More and more, we see programs that are looking for more personalized and experiential offerings, and we empower our team members to be creative and innovative with out-of-the-box experiences.

At The Venetian Resort, we’re able to offer not only classic meeting spaces, but we have the unique position of being a fully integrated resort. This property provides a multitude of unique spaces as well, which moves attendees out of conventional meeting space and fosters creativity and an inspiring atmosphere.

Elements of a stellar hospitality career: My career was shaped by great mentors along the way. Mentors that really provided their time and guidance to help me grow. They also held me accountable for my growth, which is something I really valued. In addition, really involving myself in the industry, networking, gaining positive insights and learnings from colleagues who are having the same experiences was priceless.

Next advance pursuing: The Venetian Resort Las Vegas has a very exciting future, and I’m thrilled to be part of expanding its already best-in-class reputation. We’ve made several announcements recently that are just the beginning of the overall reimagining of the guest experience of the resort.

We’re bringing an exciting new show fresh from Broadway and Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton, called “Freestyle Love Supreme”, and two dining concepts that will bring more energy and unique experiences to the resort. Miznon and HaSalon, from Israel’s most celebrated chef Eyal Shani, will be his first West Coast expansions, and we can’t wait for our guests to experience them. In the coming years, these new additions will evolve the resort and build on its legacy of being the premier destination in Las Vegas.

Back to 2022 Catalyst Award winners page.

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