High tech, high touch

By: - Reporter / @neltayao
/ 04:59 AM October 15, 2018

VIRTUS AWARD WINNERS. (From left) Erwin Dona of Las Casas de Azucar, for winning the Outstanding Marketing Campaign of the Year; Fatima Mationg of Makati Diamond Residences for Outstanding Sales and Marketing Manager; Francis David of Hyatt City of Dreams for Outstanding Sales and Marketing Leader; and Timothy Santos of Bellevue Hotels for Outstanding Sales and Marketing Associate.

High tech and “high touch.”

These two key factors are what hotel sales and marketing professionals need to provide excellent service to clients, say officials of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) Philippines, which prides itself as the country’s premier organization of sales and marketing leaders in the Philippine travel and tourism industry, representing the hotels and resorts segment.


New tech trends

“You have to be aware of all the new tech trends and apply them to your job. You have to attend seminars. I would attend seminars on my own just to update myself, or go to ones sponsored by your respective companies,” says Christine Ibarreta, HSMA president. “Another secret: webinars, which are free. All you need is to allot your time to acquire new knowledge.”


Given today’s high-tech tools, former HSMA president Rose Libongco, who held the post from 1982 to 2010, notes that one should not lose that personal touch when catering to clients.

“Yes, we are in a highly technological age, wherein the traditional manner of doing sales is changing—but [ultimately] sales is all about providing solutions,” says Libongco.

“Apart from knowing what is available in the digital world, you have to have a mastery of your product. You have to be able to be conscious about what your clients want, and you will be able to provide these solutions by really questioning [them], and suiting your proposals to their needs. It’s not just about reciting the assets of your property; it may be that that’s not what they want. [It’s about] the personal touch. High tech is there, but at the same time, ‘high touch’ is demanded of good sales management,” she adds.

This year, the HSMA once again recognized outstanding professionals in their industry through the annual Virtus Awards.

Envisioned by Ibarreta to be the Philippines’ most prestigious awards event for hotel sales and marketing professionals, the Virtus Awards has slowly been able to position itself as one of the most coveted honors in the hotel and tourism industry, as attested to by some of its past winners.

Bread and butter

” [Virtus Awards] is different because before, there was really none that focused on sales and marketing in the hotel industry, and we all know sales is the bread and butter of any property,” says Cielo Ortega-Reboredo, director of sales-events and marketing of Okada Manila. Reboredo won in 2015 as Outstanding Sales and Marketing Leader, when she was still with Midas Hotel and Casino.


Adds Ibarreta: “Sales and marketing people are the ones looking for sources of revenue. We bring that to the table. We are the ones who go out of the office wearing three-inch heels and come back with only two inches left!”

Other categories are Outstanding Sales and Marketing Associate, Outstanding Sales and Marketing Manager, and Outstanding Marketing Campaign. Ibarreta says she was inspired to establish Virtus four years ago after learning about HSMA International’s Adrian Awards in the United States, which recognizes “hospitality brands and agencies for creativity and innovation in advertising, digital marketing, and public relations.”

Candidates for the Virtus Awards are nominated by management of the association’s member-properties. For the three individual awards, judges look at these key factors: one’s actual accomplishments/achievements; customer orientation and business-specific knowledge; teamwork and interpersonal relationships; and commitment to continuing education.

As for the Outstanding Marketing Campaign award, judges choose the best one based on: marketing objectives and content; creativity and innovation; results/return on investment; and presentation.


Ibarreta says the number of nominations has so far doubled since the first Virtus.

These awards—which HSMA hopes to expand in the coming years—are designed not only to recognize the hard work of hotel sales and marketing professionals, but also motivate them into performing better for their respective properties, says Margarita Munsayac, HSMA Philippines chair.

Management will be motivated as well to take care of its sales and marketing staff, which lessens the risk of such professionals shifting to other industries where their talents and skills are also in high demand, Munsayac adds.

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