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400 Registrants Participate in the "Virtual"
9th Annual Resort Conference

The PGA National Resort to Host Conference in 2010

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MCLEAN, VA (May 27, 2009) – Understanding consumers’ needs and paying attention to customer service were two themes that consistently emerged during the four-part Virtual Resort Conference webinar series presented by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and the University of Denver’s School of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management. 
 
The conference, held May 4-13, 2009, boasted 400 registrants and an estimated viewing attendance of more than 1000 resort industry professionals, and included sessions on customer insight, innovation in resort marketing, travel industry trends and managing group sales contracts.
 
Panelists in the first session, “The Voice of the Customers: Do you know what your customers are really thinking?” remained optimistic about growth in the business travel sector and encouraged attendees to focus on the business value they offer and gain a better understanding of the client’s business needs and strategies before creating a proposal.
 
“In today’s marketplace, we need to know our clients and understand their business needs and strategy to implement,” said Angie Pfeifer, assistant vice president of Investors Group Financial Services Inc.
 
Scott Anderson, president of hospitality & real estate at Kohler Company led the “The Case for Innovating Now.” He stressed the importance of professionals’ ability and need to understand the consumer. Anderson also discussed how resorts can use online travel companies (OTCs) to their advantage to find loyal customers, create a revenue culture and balance attention between ownership, guests and employees equally. The latter part of the session outlined ways for professionals to find new customers.
 
“Hoteliers first need to understand the desires of Generation X and Y and look at what they’re offering to appeal to this demographic,” said Anderson. “We also need to look at source and segment together, not separately, to see what areas can be targeted.”
 
Hotels are using bundled packages to lure in guests, Peter Yesawich, Ph. D, president and CEO of YPartnership, discussed in the third webinar, “Emerging Lifestyles and Travel Trends: Implications for Resort Marketing.” However, simply improving customer service may be enough to differentiate a hotel from a competitor and be more cost effective to the hotel’s bottom line.
 
“Personalization will become the new service strategy for many resorts,” Yesawich stated. “As consumers become more comfortable with the idea of paying a premium to get what they want, personalization will become key.” 
 
In the final Resort Conference session, “Managing Group Sales Contracts,” panelists agreed that hotels and groups need to work together, as early as possible, to remedy a cancellation or change. Hotel sales professionals must understand the importance of customer service, especially when navigating the rocky road of group sales contracts in a down economy.
 
“Communication is critical,” said Mike Dominguez, vice president of global sales at Loews Hotels. “The earlier we know about cancellations, the earlier we can work to recoup some of those dollars.” 
 
Steve Kinsley, president of Kinsley and Associates, a meeting planning company, mentioned that he has seen more camaraderie from groups and hotels this year in regards to cancellations. “There is more of a spirit of partnership on the hotel side,” said Kinsley. “Groups are calling well in advance and willing to work with us.”
 
The virtual Resort Conference was offered free to the first 100 qualified resort industry professionals registered for each session thanks to the generous support of a coalition of industry partners, including American Express, Fareed Zapala Koepke, Cendyn, ClickSquared, Dana Communications, E-proDirect, ICE Portal, Incite Response and PAR Springer-Miller Systems. 
 
One attendee remarked in a post conference evaluation, “I appreciated the different views from each presenter to give a broader aspect of the topics discussed. In addition, I feel that having been offered this seminar FREE of charge was definitely of value.”
 
A special thanks is extended to conference sponsors and, in particular, to the PGA National Resort, which will be the host property for the 10th annual conference May 2-4, 2010. Visit www.resortconference.com for more information or to purchase archive copies of the virtual conference webinars.
 
About HSMAI
HSMAI is the hospitality industry source for knowledge, community, and recognition for leaders committed to professional development, sales growth, revenue optimization, marketing, and branding. With a strong focus on education, HSMAI has become the industry champion in identifying and communicating trends in the hospitality industry, and bringing together customers and members at annual events, including HSMAI's Affordable Meetings®. Founded in 1927, HSMAI is an individual membership organization comprising more than 7,000 members worldwide, with 40 chapters in the Americas Region. For more information on HSMAI, contact the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International, 1760 Old Meadow Road, Suite 500, McLean, Va. 22102; (703) 506-3280; fax (703) 506-3266, or visit the website at www.hsmai.org.
 
About HRTM
Established in 1946, the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management (HRTM), part of the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, prepares both graduate and undergraduate students for senior management positions in the fast-changing and competitive hospitality industry.  As one of the most prominent hotel programs in the nation, the HRTM program enjoys a superb reputation for innovative educational programs.   The student-oriented faculty members are internationally recognized for their contributions to teaching, research and publications in various hospitality fields.  For more information on the HRTM program, visit www.daniels.du.edu/HRTM.aspx or contact Barb Pemble at (303) 871-4473 or e-mail: bpemble@du.edu.
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Contact:

Rachel Rosenberg, Edelman Atlanta, 
404-832-7711, rachel.rosenberg@edelman.com  

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Also See: Chip Conley, Peter Yesawich, Suzanne Cook and Crist Inman to Keynote 8th Annual Resort Conference, April 16-18, 2008 in San Diego / January 2008
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