Event planners like us make the world go ‘round. Our strategic and operational skills keep the plates spinning, businesses booming and employees motivated. Too often, however, they are behind the scenes—working their magic with RFPs, checklists and KPIs while others take the spotlight.
Not anymore. Smart Meetings is celebrating the essential role these hard-working professionals play every day and one of our own was proudly recognized!
Vice President, Global Accounts
Greenville, South Carolina
HIGH-FIVE MOMENT: We had an 800-person, direct sale annual incentive group in Jamaica at the Hyatt Ziva and Zilara. One of the coolest receptions was a bubble reception at their pool area. It was a combination of great food, great music and an atmosphere that was almost dream-like.
VISION FOR AN IDEAL EVENTS WORLD: Better partnerships between intermediaries working hand-and-hand with hotel partners to create world-class events for the end user. Really working together to create that “wow” memorable experience.
TOP OF MY TO-DO LIST: Life is all about relationships, and I work on those every day, and value and trust the partners who have the same philosophy.
WHAT KEEPS ME UP AT NIGHT: Revenue management and financial maximization philosophies at select major hotel brands. I am always focused on taking care of my customer. Every day I wake up thinking about how to create value and deliver world-class service.
WHY WILD HORSES CAN’T DRAG ME AWAY: My wife, kids and family.
See entire list and read more:
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
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