Welcoming our newest member of the Sourcing Operations team, Payton Bolek!
Welcoming our newest member of the Sourcing Operations team, Payton Bolek!
So Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City
Upon arrival last weekend, I was very impressed with the transformation that has taken place there. No longer is it just pretending to be a rich man in a poor man’s shirt.
The aurora is truly rising behind this solid meetings destination. With the recent opening of the Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center in the marina district, this is now one of the largest and nicest meetings spaces on the Atlantic seaboard, just over the Jersey state line. Harrah’s offers over 2500 newly renovated sleeping rooms and two stacked 50,000 square foot ballrooms, each breaking into 30 sections. The pre-function space in the conference center was huge, each level had over 25,000 square feet outside the ballroom. They also had outdoor terraces with amazing bay and ocean views. The flexibility of their meeting space was unsurpassed and impressive.
…Sleeping at the beach all night.
The sleeping rooms were divided up into several towers, all have recently been remodeled or are brand new. The vast majority of the rooms have great water views. The elevators were very fast and efficient, something that is often forgotten at a hotel of this size. All the rooms I saw were incredibly nice, with spacious separate tub and shower, with exceptional lighting and counter space. Everything you need to put your makeup on and fix your hair up pretty. The beds were plush and the internet was fast, not much else you need to have an enjoyable stay.
Sleeping room at Harrah’s
…I ain’t here on business, I’m only here for fun.
One of my favorite features at Harrah’s was the massive indoor pool that they turn into a concert venue at night. This is a perfect reception space for up to 400 people. The complex has dozens of restaurants at all price points, ranging from high end steak houses to grab a slice pizza joints. Overall, I found the food to be really good, high quality, and it was not overpriced. Several venues did live music at night, adding to the energy of the hotel. The casino was huge, but not all that noisy. They also have a large performance theater that seats 1200, this can also be used for private events or general sessions should the need arise. Harrah’s offers a very unique offering, a large Viking cooking school. This gives people the opportunity to cook their own meal and learn from professional chefs, then eat what they made in a back room with wine parings. It looked like a lot of fun, this type of experiential activity is really popular right now.
…Rich man wanna be king
Over in the center of the boardwalk is Caesars Palace, an 1100 room hotel. This hotel is smack in the center of the action. This is a miniature version of the iconic hotel in Las Vegas. They have 28,000 square feet of meeting space, highlighted by a 17,000 square foot ballroom. The hotel has some of the best restaurants on the boardwalk, Morton’s, Nero’s Italian, Phillips Seafood, and Gordon Ramsey’s Pub and Grill. This is a truly great hotel for groups of 250-300. The rooms were very upscale and large, all with nice water views.
…Running off down the boardwalk
Next to Caesars, is Ballys, a 1200 room hotel. Ballys is a really nice option for groups more on a budget than Caesars or Harrah’s, but still a nice product. The 80,000 square foot meeting space is all on one level, making it very convenient. They also offer the largest casino floor in Atlantic City, and also have a number of restaurants at all price points. Both Bally’s and Caesars are right across from a massive outlet mall. The prices and selection were outstanding here, I am not a shopping fan, but this was one of the best outlet malls I have ever been to.
…Never gave no thought to landing.
The Atlantic City airport has very limited service, right now only Spirit flies in there. The Philadelphia airport is about an hour away, giving you a ton of flight options. This time from the airport should not be a huge impairment to booking there, as it is often an hour or more to get to the main downtown hotels in cities like Chicago, LA, New York, Houston, and plenty of other cities. As an added convenience, one-third of the US population is within one tank of gas to get to Atlantic City, tearing down the highway like a big old dinosaur. So Mary, climb in…We’re pulling out of here to win.
…Cant start a fire without a spark.
For many people, the first thing that they think of when entering a casino is the amount of smoke that is used to be omnipresent. The filtration systems that casinos have installed recently has changed this reality. I spent extensive time at three large casinos and never once smelled smoke in any public area. The meetings spaces are all non- smoking, as are the restaurants. In years past, it was impossible to enter a casino without smelling like an ashtray, but these are better days shining through now, making this a non-issue in most casinos.
I was impressed by the transformation that the city and the hotels that I visited has undergone. It is a city I would enjoy going back to, and one I can see bringing groups of all sizes to in the future. There is still a lot of value to be found here, especially for groups booking during the week. It has all of the amenities that my groups are looking for, and is perfect for those groups that has a big driving contingent and those looking at the Northeast.
I will say it again, Meet me tonight in Atlantic City.
All photos were taken by Timothy Arnold, May 2018. Most quotes shamelessly stolen from the immortal Bruce Springsteen.
**Guest Written by Timothy Arnold, CMP, CMM – Regional Vice President of HPN Global
Timothy Arnold, CMP, CMM
Regional Vice President
Hospitality Performance Network – HPN Global
The past few months I had the pleasure of being an Intern at HPN Global and work with several teams within the company. Before I begin reflecting on my experience, I want to share that I was the first intern HPN has ever taken on. HPN and I both took a leap of faith with this internship. My first day at HPN was in December and I was nervous about joining an office with forty people. I did not know what to expect. Are people going to introduce themselves to me? Do people know who I am? Am I ready to work full-time for a company I was recently introduced to?
Although all these thoughts ran through my head, my first day went great! I was introduced to everyone that I would be working with, with a welcoming, “Hello” and “Can’t wait for you to be a part of our team”. For the first few weeks of my internship I worked as the Office Administrator, where I greeted everyone as they walked through the door. I also sent and delivered mail for the office, and helped with any tasks that need to be completed. Starting off as the Office Administrator I thought my degree was not being used to its fullest potential. But I quickly realized first impressions mean everything in the hospitality industry and that everyone needs to start somewhere.
After returning from Christmas break, I was given the opportunity to be a part of the Meeting Services team. I participated in weekly meetings where past and future programs were discussed. This department is constantly on the move and busy. Because of that, some of the tasks given to me were challenging. However, I learned quickly that I had to be assertive and make myself available on daily basis for the team. I was given the responsibility of creating the monthly Meeting Services Newsletter, designing several proposal templates, and updating the database.
Towards the end of my internship, I joined the Sourcing Team. Being a part of this team, I saw everything from the Associate’s Request for Proposal, hotel selection, to the client’s final decision. Taking a role in this department was not only challenging but required me to step out of my comfort zone. I was given the responsibility to call associates and hotels, which, at first, was extremely intimidating to me. However, through practice and great training by the Sourcing Team, I gained the confidence to make the difficult calls and make sure deadlines were met. As training came to an end, I was asked to look over RFP’s, select appropriate hotels, follow up with hotels, and notify the associate once all hotels returned the bid.
In addition to helping with the Site Selection process, I was given the opportunity to visit several hotels throughout the Phoenix Area. This allowed me to see how each Hotel Brand and Property differ, as well as, the different parts of the Hospitality Industry.
HPN welcomed me with open arms and I truly felt a part of the team when I was with them. From weekly meetings to visiting hotels and social gatherings after work, I learned that HPN is all about “Family First” and that “Relationships Matter”. My role with the Sourcing Team, and more importantly, taking my Internship with HPN has allowed me to gain confidence. I am forever grateful for the experience. Moving forward, I will not be afraid to introduce myself to an unfamiliar face, take on new and challenging tasks, be assertive and asks for more. I truly love the Hospitality Industry.
Connect with Haley on Linkedin
HPN Global has brought in one of Chicago’s and the hospitality industries most respected Sales & Marketing leaders Roderick A. Jao (pronounced “How”) to the team. Jao brings over 25 years of experience to HPN and will play a key role in expanding new business to the portfolio.
Prior to joining HPN, Jao was fortunate to hold Director positions within other amazing Four and Five Diamond Chicago-based hotels with Hyatt, Wyndham Grand, Omni, Elysian (now Waldorf Astoria), The James, The Affinia, The Sutton Place, The Sheraton Hotel and Towers, where he oversaw and led teams in sales, catering, reservations and banquets.
Our industry is all about partnerships and how a person/organization can give back to the community leads to his/her legacy. Throughout his career, Jao was able to build partnerships that are still engraved in the organizations he was involved with like ABC 7, Navy Pier, Northwestern University / Hospital to name a few. However, the long standing agreement with Lurie’s Children’s Hospital where his team donated as well as designed 9 sleep suites for families to stay close to their child needing extended healthcare is bar none one of his most influential and sustainable projects he was involved with.
Jao was blown away as one of the core values for HPN Global is “Family First.” Jao is the fourth of nine children. His siblings have provided their parents with 16 grandchildren and counting. In 1999, Roderick married Melissa and they are blessed with two children (Cassie 18 and Xander 16).
Roderick A. Jao
Vice President, Global Accounts
Hospitality Performance Network Global
690 Cole Drive
South Elgin, IL 60177
Nick began his career with Wyndham hotels in 1993 through 1998 where he worked in Chandler, AZ, Pittsburgh, PA and Los Angeles, CA. Nick also worked for Promus Corp, prior to being acquired by Hilton as Director of Sales for a Homewood Suites property in the Biltmore area of Phoenix.
Nick began working for Hyatt Hotels in 2001 in Monterey, CA then came back to the Valley in 2003 where he spent the next 11 years as a Senior Sales Manager handling the Washington DC/Assn market at Hyatt Regency Phoenix. Nick also enjoyed a Senior Sales position with Sheraton Grand in downtown Phoenix from 2014-2016.
Nick is an avid mountain-biker, motorcyclist and muscle-car enthusiast and he volunteers as a guitar instructor at Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Center. Nick is also an animal lover and has a beautiful German Shepherd named Mika.
Favorite food: Cajun and Italian.
Favorite pro team: Steelers!
Global Account Director
Hospitality Performance Network Global
13825 N. Northsight Blvd #201
Michael joins the HPN Global team with more than 20 years of sales hospitality experience most recently with Wyndham Hotel Group where he served as a Director, Global Sales – Group. He handled the Association and Midwest Corporate markets for the hotel portfolio. Prior to Wyndham, Michael was Director of Sales & Marketing for various independent and branded hotels in downtown Chicago including The Talbott Hotel, The Silversmith Hotel and Fairfield Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown. He also held senior sales positions at the Kinzie Hotel (formerly Amalfi Hotel Chicago) and Wyndham Baltimore Inner Harbor Hotel.
He has received multiple accolades in his career such as Sales Director of the Year for First Hospitality Group in 2008 and Sales & Marketing Employee of the Year recognized by Maryland Hotel & Lodging Association in 2004. Based in suburban Chicago, Michael spends most of his time with his wife Margarita and their 3 kids Dylan, Xavier and Danielle. Michael holds a B.A. in Psychology from North Park University – Chicago, IL
Michael D. Solis
Vice President, Global Accounts
Hospitality Performance Network Global
P.O. Box 4953
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089
In celebration of HPN Global’s 16th year in business, and my 16th anniversary with the company, I’m sharing 16 thoughts of gratitude and my experience from watching the development and growth of this awesome company.
1. I’m not here by accident. I truly believe the universe lined up perfectly 16 years ago, and connected me with Bill Kilburg, which turned into my role & involvement with HPN. I was and continue to be right where I am supposed to be.
2. I’ve seen how the HPN Global opportunity can change lives. In the past 16 years, I’ve seen people take a leap of faith with their fingers crossed, a dedicated work ethic, and dive head first into entrepreneurialism. They have forever changed their lives and that of their families by way of prosperous incomes, quality time with the people that matter most, and control over their own schedules.
3. While at HPN, I turned 21 (which I’m sure you can imagine is quite the experience!), got married, and started the incredible journey of motherhood. I can’t imagine raising my son under other circumstances where family truly comes first. Also, by my definition, I have been able to successfully tackle being a dedicated mom who is there for her son, and a passionate professional. John (my son) has always been welcome in the office and a fun distraction for many, especially during the early years. We love HPN babies and kids ☺ This is a huge example of the kind of company culture Bill & Joe set out for 16 years ago.
4. When you love what you do, it rapidly ceases to be work. So many people spend their entire life lacking motivation or passion for what they do. Enjoying what I do is extremely important for me, and it also sets the example I want for my son. Work / Life Balance does exist. If you’re not experiencing this, I challenge you to find it.
5. I have witnessed incredible examples and influence of some of the top industry professionals, specifically within our leadership team at HPN Global. This group of people has influenced the person and professional I am today. I will forever be grateful. These are brilliant, compassionate, innovative people who don’t settle for status quo. I am beyond proud to be a part of this team.
6. Change. Innovation. Open mindedness. These are some of the characteristics that have made HPN Global so successful. We seek to find different ways to approach our business.
7. Leadership. What does it mean to be a leader? It’s not a title. Plenty of people have important titles that aren’t leaders. For me, it has meant taking an opportunity and making it my own. Before I knew it, I was providing counsel, guidance, direction, or just a listening ear to our team members. Mentoring others is an important piece of what I’ve experienced. The world I envision is a world where people help each other to advance, grow, and then turn around and help the next person.
8. I am delightfully included in this year’s 100 Women Who Inspire Us, by Smart Meetings. These are 100 truly amazing women, and I’m proud to be in their company.
9. Networking & Connections! Two extremely powerful words. Working for HPN Global has allowed me to develop and refine my own personal networking style, and understand just how important this skill is. Connections can open doors you didn’t know existed.
When you have an opportunity to take a relationship to the next level, and really connect with someone, that’s my favorite part. I love the impact we can have on people (and vise versa). People often forget that every time they interact with someone, they’re making an impact on that person. My goal is to have a positive impact with everyone I interact with.
10. HPN has taken me to some of the most amazing destinations. I’m literally traveling the world, and staying in some of the top hotels & resorts along the way. One of my favorite trips each year is our President’s Club Incentive. We award out top producers with an amazing trip. The destination changes annually, and it’s guaranteed to delight. I spend almost a week connecting with the top producers for HPN Global. Every year, the winners are different, and it’s extremely competitive. It’s a ton of fun getting to know them & their spouses better on more personal level. On that note, my husband has been able to join me on these awesome adventures. Sometimes, I think my HPN peeps enjoy his company more than mine (I’m talking to you, Linscott!).
11. It takes a village – for everything!
I / we couldn’t be where we are today without the amazing individuals that support us. We’re talking everything from talented people who support the HPN Global operation, my family who helps take care of my son when I travel, and my inner circle who provides amazing feedback and counsel for me personally and professionally.
12. Through our travels, I have been exposed to some of the most amazing food & wine. I’ve really come to enjoy this aspect of the hospitality industry. I have truly been spoiled and have loved every minute of it. Enjoying great food & wine is a big part of who I am.
13. What incredible experiences I’ve had in the past 16 years. I’ve done some amazing things that I may not have done on my own: watching an insane lightning storm in the Bahamas, ziplining in Costa Rica, relaxing in the turquois water in the Dominican Republic, a gorgeous waterfall hike in Maui, hanging on a private island in Puerto Rico, to name a few. Wow!!
14. I would be remiss not to mention the quality of education and motivational content we’re exposed to constantly – we’re talking the most incredible speaker experiences available in the market. Really impactful, change your life – if you allow it – content.
15. The opportunities available in this industry are endless. It only takes the right people paying attention at the right time to our ever-evolving world. Through this lens, HPN Global is leading the path for enhanced client safety through Emergency Planning, Preparedness, and Crisis Management. This partnership is made possible by HPN teaming up with my very own John Whitney via Emergency Concierge International to provide our clients the highest level of evolutionary service.
16. Finally, Relationships Matter! It’s the foundation on which on our company was built, and I whole heartedly drink this Kool Aid daily. I see this not only in my professional world, but personal world as well. People need people, we are tribal by nature.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
Senior VP, Sourcing & Industry Relations
13825 N Northsight Blvd., Suite 201
Scottsdale AZ, 85260
Phone: 480.998.9770 Ext 236
Website | LinkedIn | Blog
Performance Powered by Passion
Post Hurricane María Statement
President & CEO, CDME
In our goal to keep you updated on our news and plans, we are pleased to share the week’s positive news for our industry – more cruises have been arriving in our ports; more attractions are opening; more hotels are accepting new reservations; and San Juan was just recognized by Lonely Planet as one of the World’s Top 10 Cities for Travel in 2018!
A list of attractions including the Bacardi Welcome Center, Plaza Las America’s and Mall of San Juan, and many of our water sports venues can be found here with opening dates from now to the end of December. San Juan’s hotels continue to post opening dates (please click here for exact dates per the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), power (by generator) continues to keep the lights on in many of our hotels, gas lines continue at a normal level, the port is fully operational, the airport is fully operational and open 24 hours – by the end of November we will have more than 700 domestic and international flights daily.
Additional service status can be found at status.pr for daily updates.
We are also pleased that the Puerto Rico Convention Center will resume its schedule of conventions in January, kicking off with the region’s largest tourism marketing event, The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA)’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace, January 30 – February 1. CHTA has expressed confidence in the readiness of Puerto Rico to host in January. Last year more than 1,100 delegates from 31 countries participated in more than 10,000 pre-scheduled appointments.
Our calendar of events remains intact and you will have the opportunity to hear personally from us at upcoming trade shows, conferences, and events. Please click here for the list: http://puertorico.simpleviewcrm.com/webapi/rsvp/v2/. Next week we will be participating in TEAMS, the world’s leading conference and expo for the sports-event industry. We will be sharing updates on our sporting venues, many which are, like our convention center, being used by the military and/or as collection centers. A complete list of those facilities and their availability for groups can be found here.
As a part of our engagement phase – interacting with the industry and media on a consistent basis – we are continuing to ask for input on new ideas, new approaches and new commitments that we can work on together and share in the anticipation of relaunching and rediscovering Puerto Rico.
Many continue to ask how they can help or contribute. We continue to provide the link to United for Puerto Rico, an initiative brought forth by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, in collaboration with the private sector, with the purpose of providing aid and support to those affected in Puerto Rico by the passage of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane María. Please click here.
We intend to keep you updated on our progress in real time – keeping you informed, engaged and connected. As you know, Puemeetingso has always been one of the most desired meeting and convention destinations and we intend to continue the same tradition soon.