'Voice Of The Customer' Will Be Heard At HSMAI's Debut Hotel Sales Strategy Conference

What consumers want and expect, as well as emerging trends and changes in the meeting planning industry will be debated and discussed when a panel of high-powered executives from various sectors join for a 'Voice of the Customer' session at the first annual Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Hotel Sales Strategy Conference on Sept. 4, 2007. Equally insightful will be spirited sessions on innovations in sales leadership, e-commerce for sales and marketers, and a special report on 'Social Media and Travel.'

Held at the convention center in Washington, D.C. from noon – 5 pm, the half-day debut event will take place one day prior to HSMAI's Affordable Meetings(R) National trade show.

'We are thrilled with the caliber of presenters and panelists driving this debut conference's agenda,' states Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHA, president and CEO of HSMAI. 'The educational programming, which is highly targeted and specialized, will be invaluable for sales and marketers looking for ways to be proactive and competitive in the industry today,' he added.

Agenda and Session Overviews

12:00 Noon Welcome & Conference Overview

12:30 pm 'Voice of the Customer' Luncheon

The conference kicks off with a spirited discussion with meeting professionals representing corporate, association, third-party and government accounts and a dialogue about the trends, changes and developments they see emerging in their respective niches. Featuring a special 'what planners wish sales people would do' segment and plenty of time for Q&A, this session will provide valuable insights into what your customers want and what they see on the horizon.

Customer Panelists:

Timothy Burke, acting director, Office of Travel and Transportation Services, Federal Acquisition Service

Lee Ann Adams Mikeman, AVP, director, Conference Planning and Special Events, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)

Liz Jackson, vice president, Meetings Management Group

Horacio Gavilan, CMP, executive director, Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies

Moderated by Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHA, president and CEO, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International

1:15 pm 'Social Media and Travel'

Attendees will be the first to hear the official outcomes of a landmark report about the hottest topic in hospitality sales and marketing today: social media. Discussing the many online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives related to travel will be the report's author, Cindy Estis Green and Suzanne Cook, senior vice president of research for the Travel Industry Association (TIA) of America. Together they will present the outcomes of the compelling original research, as well as suggestions for implementation specific to hospitality sales and marketing professionals. Conference attendees will receive a copy of the report upon its release.

Speakers: Cindy Estis Green, managing partner, The Estis Group

Suzanne Cook, senior vice president of Research, TIA

2:00 pm Social Media, Expert Panel

Capitalizing upon the information presented in the 'Social Media and Travel' session, a panel of professionals 'in the trenches' of social media will share secrets and insights for its use as a sales and marketing tool, as well as predictions for dynamic future applications.

Panelists: John Moser, chief marketing officer, Affinia Hotels

Mark Stacy, CEO, Groople

Brian Payea, industry relations, TripAdvisor;

Moderated by Cindy Estis Green, managing partner, The Estis Group

Suzanne Cook, senior vice president of Research, TIA

2:30 pm Break

2:45 pm 'Securing Group Leads Online'

Think of the Internet as just another sales and marketing vehicle to drive consumer traffic to your property? Think again. This session will share a variety of opportunities and resources to actively and innovatively prospect for group sales online. Whether your property directly controls its online marketing or is part of a larger brand effort, this session will present concrete examples of sales techniques to utilize the Internet to improve your bottom line.

Speaker: Gordon Liametz, president, Revenue Performance, Inc.

3:45 pm 'Finding Talent'

In today's economy, what you have to sell is only as good as who you have selling it, and finding the best sales and marketing staff for your company is as important as any of the amenities you offer guests. Bart Berkey, director of talent acquisition, Sales and Marketing for Ritz-Carlton Hotels – and a former director of Sales and Marketing for Ritz Carlton – will share valuable insight into how to best attract and hire the industry's top notch performers.

Speaker: Bart Berkey, director of talent acquisition, Sales and Marketing, Ritz-Carlton Hotels

4:15 pm Break

4:30 pm 'Innovations in Sales Leadership'

All the knowledge in the world won't matter if you can't lead a team to success. The final session packs a punch, and will impart the skills and techniques needed to be today's – and tomorrow's – effective sales and marketing leader. You'll learn innovative perspectives on team transformations and ways to adopt and implement a new sales culture, leading to improved performance and increased revenue.

Speaker: Julie Shen, Professional Trainer and Executive Coach, Master Connection Associates

5:15 pm Closing Remarks and Conference Wrap-Up

5:30 pm Affordable Meetings Opening Reception

HSMAI and the HDOSM Special Interest Group (SIG) invite conference participants to a fundraising reception at Clyde's of Gallery Place, located in Washington's Chinatown, just a few blocks from the convention center. Hosted by the HSMAI-DC Chapter, the reception will be a way to meet colleagues and discuss newfound knowledge after an afternoon of learning.

The HSMAI Hotel Sales Strategy Conference is organized by HSMAI and HSMAI's HDOSM SIG Advisory Board. The HDOSM SIG provides information, leadership development, and resources relevant to hotel directors of sales and marketing. Their vision is to establish a resource-rich environment in collaboration with the HSMAI membership that is indispensable for the career professional in hotel sales and marketing.

Sponsors of the event are Rudner Law Offices, SECURE-RES and TIG Global. Those interested in sponsorship opportunities should contact Melanie Penoyar at (703) 610-9024 or mpenoyar@hsmai.org.

Registration for the conference is $295 for HSMAI members and $455 for non-members, which includes one year of membership. For more information on the upcoming conference, or to register, visit www.hdosm.org.

HSMAI is an organization of sales and marketing professionals representing all segments of the hospitality industry. 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(R). Founded in 1927, HSMAI is an individual membership organization comprising more than 7,000 members worldwide, with 39 chapters in the Americas Region