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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Virtus Awards to recognize hotel champions

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IT’S that time of the year again when sales and marketing professionals in the hotel industry get recognized by their peers for their efforts in putting the word out about their respective properties.

With Covid-19 continuing to put a damper on revenues, these hotel professionals are working harder than ever to shine a light on their new products and services, even as many of them continue to host a captured market of hosting repatriated overseas Filipino workers, returning overseas Filipinos, and a handful of foreigners exempted from the government’s strict travel restrictions.

The Hotel Sales and Marketing Association Inc. (HSMA), a 140-member group of hotels and resorts in the country, launched their Virtus Awards in an online presser on June 15. While the group’s very active officials were very much present, missing in action was the ever-jovial HSMA president Christine Anne H. Ibarreta, who started the Virtus Awards.

Christine has fallen ill to that dreadful Covid-19, which she contracted on the job. Many of her colleagues and friends know how much she’s dedicated to her job as corporate director of sales and marketing at Golden Phoenix Hotels, and as HSMA president. I remember one time I was trying to interview her as she was busily welcoming arriving overseas Filipinos at the NAIA, where HSMA has a booth. At the NAIA, the group has been helping the government facilitate the assignments of Filipinos to their quarantine hotels amid this pandemic. (Christine is sorely missed by many; please remember her in your prayers as she valiantly fights her medical condition. Thank you.)

Very much like Christine when it comes to exhibiting resiliency, the tourism and hospitality industy has done such an admirable job of doing so especially under the unique circumstances presented by Covid-19.  So like last year, the Virtus Awards will give special awards to recognize unique anti Covid-19 efforts by HSMA’s members. Dubbed SNAP (Survive, Neutralize, Adapt Programs), these individual and group awards will go to member-properties that were able to quickly pivot and address the evolving challenges brought about by the pandemic and emerge stronger.

“For the second year now, the Virtus Awards will give due recognition to hotel sales and marketing professionals who make it a point to think out of the box and do what they can to contribute to the growth of their properties amid these most challenging times,” said HSMA vice president Benjie Martinez (The Bayleaf Hotels). “Now more than ever, we at the HSMA also want to continue motivating our colleagues through these awards.”

The SNAP Awards will highlight the best and most creative virus-mitigation practices, recovery strategies, business concepts, digital transformation initiatives, audience-specific communications, talent development, workplace safety and wellness, sustainability efforts, and any other related programs.

The Virtus Awards will still include its four original categories (three individual honors and one team award) that cover achievements in terms of realized sales targets, systems improved, client satisfaction, property facilities/amenities enhanced, and other value-adding outcomes.

The individual categories (Outstanding Sales and Marketing Associate; Outstanding Sales and Marketing Manager; Outstanding Sales and Marketing Leader) will also cover initiatives/projects/endeavors that reflect innovative strategies and inspiring stories of the resilience and creativity of hotel sales and marketing professionals in mitigating the economic impact to their properties brought about by the global health crisis. The team category (Outstanding Marketing Campaign of the Year) will cover marketing campaigns that engage the public/customers to effectively reconnect with their favorite travel haunts pre-pandemic.

But why enter the competition at all? According to Virtus Awards chair, veteran hotelier Rose H. Libongco in her message at Tuesday’s launch, “Fielding your associate sends the signal to all employees that you value hard work and dedication, and instill in them the desired behaviors. Having a candidate puts your brand out there and eventually emerging as a winner will speak volumes about your work ethics and service delivery to set you apart from the competition. A plum prize is the motivation that will keep not only the nominee but the team stoked to perform better for pride and bragging rights.”

With 140 active members, HSMA, through the Virtus Awards, has been propelled into a whole new level of advocacy and raised the bar when it comes to  motivating and encouraging excellence among the Philippines’ best tourism and hospitality players. Throughout this very trying period, they have also found valuable partners in the Department of Tourism (DOT) and its marketing arm, the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB).

These two government agencies, said HSMA board chair Margie Munsayac (Bluewater Resorts), have been nothing short of relentless in their goal to help tourism and hospitality companies of all sizes recover from Covid-19’s huge economic impact. “The DOT, through Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat, and the TPB, through chief operating officer Ma. Anthonette Velasco-Allones, have helped us immensely in ensuring that our connection to our customers remain the same despite Covid-19. For that, we highly value our continued partnership with them.”

The deadline for submission of entries for the Virtus Awards is on August 31. Judging of the nominees will be carried out online on September 25, while the awarding itself will be on October 26. (Check out HSMA’s Facebook page on for updates and mechanics for submission of nominations.)

Other projects that HSMA has lined up in the coming months, said Benjie, are all in partnership with the DOT and TPB.

One is the “Go Safe, Go Travel” series that will be produced by HSMA-GPS TV.  The series will kick-off in July and will run until October. “HSMA believes that the general public has to stay constantly informed on developments in our tourism industry, both at the national and local levels,” he said. The infotainment series will feature the latest health protocols, tourism campaigns and undertakings of  different localities across the country.  HSMA will air this series on various social-media platforms and on Cignal TV.

Image courtesy of Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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