10 Smart Moves in the Meetings Industry: February 2016

Shirley Dunn Hankssmart moves

Auberge Resorts Collection appointed Shirley Dunn Hanks as director of sales and marketing for new resort Vievage Los Cabos in Los Cabos, Mexico. The beachfront hotel and villa resort is slated to open later this year. She will oversee all marketing, communications and sales for the 22-acre resort. Prior to her new position, Dunn Hanks was national leisure sales director for Auberge Resort Collections’ western region and director of sales and marketing for Capella Pedregal Resort and Spa in Cabo San Lucas.

“Shirley brings great leadership and sense of passion to our Los Cabos project,” said Caroline MacDonald, chief marketing officer of Auberge Resorts Collection. “In addition to her connections in the travel industry, Shirley has strong experience in the Mexican luxury sales market, including her work with Capella Pedregal Resort and Auriga Spa in Cabo San Lucas, which makes her well suited to debut VieVage Los Cabos.”


Rochelle Sammssmart moves

Rochelle Samms was made director of sales and marketing for Radisson Hotel Phoenix North. Samms has 15 years of experience in hotel management, sales, customer service and marketing. She is responsible for business and marketing strategies in the corporate, leisure and group travel sectors. Samms will also promote Phoenix Metrocenter as a business and leisure destination. Radisson Hotel Phoenix North has 284 guest rooms and 14,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.


Victor Freemansmart moves

New York Hilton Midtown welcomed Victor Freeman as hotel manager of the New York City property. Freeman brings more than 25 years of experience to his role, which includes overseeing all aspects of the guest experience. He previously held management positions at New York City hotels, including The Surrey, Affinia 50, The Benjamin and The Mark.

“Victor’s proven leadership and expertise in management, coupled with his commitment to outstanding customer service, will ensure the New York Hilton Midtown’s proven track record in the competitive midtown hotel market with continued success,” said Laurens Zieren, general manager of New York Hilton Midtown.


Nicole Beykirchsmart moves

Benchmark Hospitality International promoted Nicole Beykirch to global sales director of the U.S.-based hospitality management company. Most recently, she was regional accounts director for the Midwest market. She has held senior sales positions for DuPage Convention & Visitor Bureau, The Herrington Inn & Spa in Geneva, Illinois and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Beykirch is an active member of Meeting Professional International’s Chicago chapter.

“It is with tremendous pleasure that I announce Nicole’s promotion within Benchmark Hospitality’s expanding global sales organization,” said Ted Davis, chief sales and marketing officer of Benchmark Hospitality International. “She has an extraordinary ability to develop and grow strategic business relationships, partnering with the professional meeting community to source and service world-class meeting experiences.  It’s a rare combination of commitment, communication, action and consistent follow up and that drives her remarkable success.”


Kerry Coopersmart moves

L.E. Hotels hired Kerry Cooper as vice president of business development. Cooper has more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry. In his new position, he is responsible for reviewing and engaging prospective portfolio properties. He will also grow the Luxe Collection, which includes select properties with high rankings.

“Kerry’s unique business development strategies, coupled with his impressive work with hotels in Los Angeles and abroad, make him an important asset to the L.E. Hotels team,” said L.E. Hotels Founder and Chairman Efrem Harkham. “We are always on the lookout for fresh ideas at L.E. Hotels and I know that Kerry will be invaluable in contributing to this.”


Maribeth Grandpresmart moves

Maribeth Grandpre was appointed as manager of business development for Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Part of her role includes promotion of the property’s new conference center, which opened last fall with more than 64,000 sq. ft. of event space. Grandpre has more than 20 years of experience working for conference centers. Most recently, she was vice president of national sales for Conference Solutions Network.

“We are delighted to have Maribeth join us in promoting and developing our new conference center and all-inclusive meeting packages, which are unique in Atlantic City,” said William Jackson, director of sales and marketing for Resorts Casino Hotel. “The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States are two of the most high demand conference center areas in the nation. We feel that with Maribeth’s many years of experience in this unique segment of the hospitality industry, she is singularly qualified to introduce these conference center users to our new enhanced venue for meetings and conferences.”


Lesli Reynoldssmart moves

Omni Hotels & Resorts promoted Lesli Reynolds as senior vice president of revenue. Reynolds is a 25-year hospitality industry veteran and most recently served as senior vice president of operations for the brand. She also worked directly with properties, including Omni Dallas Hotel, Omni Fort Worth Hotel and Omni San Diego Hotel. Reynolds received the Omni Intensity Award in 2010 for driving change in the organization and for her overall passion to deliver results.

“Lesli has been a proven leader within the Omni family for the last two decades,” said Peter Strebel, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of sales for Omni Hotels & Resorts. “Her passion for our business and knowledge of the industry are unmatched. With Lesli overseeing the revenue, digital and travel industry sales teams, I am confident Omni will continue to grow its revenue while capturing a disproportionate share of the market.”


David Wahbasmart moves

David Wahba was hired as director of sales for Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. Wahba has nearly 20 years of managerial sales experience and will lead group room sales for both hotels, which together offer 1,498 guest rooms and a total of 175,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. He previously worked for a number of Florida-based properties, including Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando and Westin Beach Resort Fort Lauderdale.

“We are excited to welcome David and know he will make a great addition to the sales team,” said Peter Kacheris, managing director of Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. “An avid marathon runner, David employs the same race training determination in the workplace, coaching our team to continued success.”


Kathy Heneghansmart moves

Hilton Chicago promoted Kathy Heneghan to hotel manager. In her new role, she will oversee day-to-day management of travel industry relations, quality assurance, guest satisfaction, partnerships, building the meeting and events portfolio and will also support hotel staff as the 1,544-room finishes renovations. Previously, Heneghan served as the hotel’s director of catering and events.

“I am thrilled to have Kathy at the helm of our management team,” said John Wells, general manager of Hilton Chicago.  “With extensive experience at Hilton Worldwide’s Chicago properties and a history of excellent leadership, results-oriented focus and passion to inspire others, I have the utmost confidence Kathy will excel in her new role.”


Maria Lourdes Delgadosmart moves

Visit Phoenix promoted Maria Lourdes Delgado to director of tourism. She will spearhead tourism efforts with trade partners as well as destination marketing for the Greater Phoenix area. Delgado has served at Visit Phoenix for 12 year, playing an integral role in creating strategic partnerships and increasing Phoenix’s presence in the Mexico market.