Vi Nguyen, CMP, entered the industry with an unyielding drive from the very start. She grew up involved in student body government and event committees all through middle school and high school. When she began attending college at San Jose State University, she was quick to join their Hospitality Management Program.
When she graduated, she embarked on a one-year Manager in Training program with Dolce Hayes Mansion. There, she rotated through all their departments with a special focus on F&B, front office and events and sales. After completing the program, the hotel fast-tracked her to the position of conference service manager.
She held this role for seven years before switching to sales, and she sees the foundational experience that she built in this original role as instrumental to her sales success. After four years in group sales, she moved quickly through elevating roles: first as director of business travel, then assistant director of sales, then director of sales and finally as director of sales and marketing, her current role at dual-branded AC Hotel Palo Alto and Hotel Citrine, managed by California-based Evolution Hospitality.
Having grown up in San Jose, California, and now living in Newark, California, she draws on her experience as a local to perform exceptionally in this role. “I love the Bay Area,” she says. “It has always been home for me.”
Preparing for the Exam
Nguyen was exposed to the CMP designation early on. Her first hotel was IACC certified, and many of their clients had the designation. Her first manager was also a CMP. She shared the benefits of the designation with Nguyen and, Nguyen says, sold her on the CMP Community and Conclave.
From there, Nguyen was quick to pursue the educational path for herself. The support and guidance from great mentors sustained her evolution, she reports. In addition to the incredible team behind her, she says, “Building a strong foundation amongst different disciplines has helped me succeed. I am not shy about asking questions and reaching out to my network for best practices.”
She states that it’s important to identify your learning style and then identify the best available resources for that learning style. “I can recall a conversation much better than I can recall what I read,” she explains. Because conversation is so advantageous to her learning, working and discussing the course content with a study group was the best way she could have prepared.
As she prepared to take the exam, she joined a CMP prep course and, with the students alongside her, formed a study group on the first day of class.
Not only did the study group prove a valuable learning experience; it also formed a tight-knit community. “The most rewarding element of the entire CMP process was that I formed lifelong friends and a hospitality support group who can relate to me through it all.”
When it comes time to take the exam, Nguyen says, “Don’t let the process intimidate you. Trust that your experience will be the foundation and that the EIC will provide tools. There will be an entire team of people rooting for your success.”
Where She Is Now
“The CMP designation opened the door to a huge network of professionals committed to the industry,” says Nguyen. “Clients and employers recognize the commitment and dedication put forth for obtaining and retaining the designation.”
All in all, to Nguyen, this industry is about “connecting people to share ideas and foster innovation.”
She remembers organizing an EAO FAM tour for about 30 executive administrators. She and her team led them on a three-day tour of Silicon Valley showcasing their hotel, along with off-site events and F&B experiences in the area. “Everyone was so engaged in supporting each other, and the connections made were very genuine.”
True to the central goal of connection and innovation is Nguyen’s favorite quote: Kindness matters. “The industry is very demanding,” she says. “If we can remember that we are all human and doing our best and treat each other with kindness and respect, we can get through anything.”
Her experience of the EAO FAM tour served as an example of “Kindness Matters” in action. The supportive engagement and genuine connection between the participants made for an event that consistently stands out to Nguyen as a phenomenal success.
Her organization and preparation for events support this success. She and her team use group resumes, BEOs and Outlook appointments. They stay aligned in real-time by using TEAMS chat. During an event, she makes an active effort to stay hydrated—”Ice cold water keeps me going throughout the day…and, of course, the energy and excitement of the team and guests.”
She and her team celebrate their accomplishments post-event with celebration toasts and treats with their colleagues and clients. Afterward, it’s time for quality self-care and downtime to recharge.
Then, it’s time for the next event. Nguyen is an active and dedicated member of the industry, not only with her CMP designation but also as a member of Silicon Valley Business Travel Association (SVBTA) and Meeting Professionals International (MPI). She is proud to be a CMP, saying, “The CMP designation is a badge of honor showcasing dedication to the industry.”