HSMAI Recognizes Hospitality Heroes Amidst Global Pandemic

The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) honored 15 outstanding hospitality and tourism professionals with the first-ever HSMAI Hospitality Hero Adrian Awards honors. These industry professionals were nominated by their colleagues in recognition of their efforts to take a leadership position, champion a cause, or create a program that has directly benefited industry workers, medical personnel, first responders, or communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Meet our hospitality heroes:

  • Sheela Martinez, most recently front office assistant and manager at The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills in West Hollywood, California

Sheela put out a call on Facebook to raise money for relief bags for the community of ceramic potters in Santa Maria, Isabela, in the Philippines, where she was born during COVID-19. Within two days, she raised enough money for nearly 500 relief bags.

  • Mary Parks, director of sales for the Hilton Garden Inn Annapolis Downtown

Mary used the Hilton Garden Inn’s kitchen to bake chocolate-chip cookies for medical personnel, firefighters, and other first responders, as well as personally making hundreds of masks for friends, colleagues, and people throughout her community.

  • Jonathan DiFonzo, district sales representative for Cheney Brothers Inc. in Boynton Beach, Florida

Jonathan organized a GoFundMe campaign called “Service Industry Relief Fund” that raised more than $4,700 and secured matching produce donations from Boy’s Fresh Market, all to supply restaurant workers in Delray Beach who had been laid off because of COVID-19, with meals.

  • Jill Flynn, director of sales, events, and marketing for the Hyatt Regency Dulles in Herndon, Virginia

Jill dedicated herself to long workweeks, taken on a variety of tasks, all while being there for her colleagues and covering for them so they can take mental-health breaks during COVD-19.

  • Kenan Tekin, dual opening general manager, Hyatt House/Hyatt Place Los Angeles International Airport

Kenan used his own money to buy groceries and other essentials for laid off or furloughed colleagues. He donated an entire paycheck to six families — as well as to fellow HSMAI Hospitality Hero Sheela Martinez’s birthday fundraiser.

Ava sent her Accor 2019 Heartist of the Year employee-recognition prize money, which was several thousand dollars, to her family in the Philippines. They used it to assemble care packages for those in need during COVID-19.

  • Jean-Cédric Callies, director of sales and marketing for Hotel Monville in Montreal, Quebec, and an HSMAI member

Jean helped supply meals to first responders who work at the University of Montreal Health Center and he launched a variety of initiatives to support both the property and the community during COVID-19.

  • Peter Ricci, CHA, CHSE, CRME, director of the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), and an HSMAI member

Dr. Ricci came up with the idea of offering a condensed version of Florida Atlantic University (FAU)’s Certificate in Hospitality and Tourism Management at no charge for hospitality professionals who were affected by the pandemic.

  • Nicole McAlister, CHSE, area director of franchise services for Choice Hotels International, working out of Schertz, Texas, and an HSMAI member and Austin chapter board member

Nicole sent personal letters to many hospitality industry professionals with an enclosed packet of flower seeds. Nicole reassured her colleagues that they will get through this and urged them to focus on the beauty that will bloom from the seeds.

  • Brian Stiglets, general manager of The Inn at Longwood Medical in Boston

Brian kept The Inn open, including its restaurant, to continue serving first responders as well as the patients at the beginning of COVID-19. He also arranged to serve more than 200 lunches to local hospitals, delivering the meals himself.

  • Yvette Koebke, director of sales and marketing for Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott Phoenix Downtown in Phoenix, Arizona

Yvette distributed grocery money to hospitality professionals from selling her art and is donating to a breast cancer charity for each facemask she sells as an effort to support her community during COVID-19.

  • Ardy Edgerton, CGTP, senior national account executive for Red Roof

Ardy was instrumental in setting up temporary housing options for more than 75 county, state, and federal emergency management offices by positioning Red Roof properties to provide homes during COVID-19.

  • Geoffrey A. Mills, regional vice president and general manager at Hudson New York for sbe Lifestyle Hospitality

Geoffrey led the Hudson to donate nearly 2,000 room nights as well as masks, sheets, pillowcases, gloves, and disinfectants to Montefiore Hospital, donated PPE, and has offered discounted stays to front line hospital staff in the area.

  • Holly Zoba, CHDM, owner of Scout Simply and Influencer Sales Training, based in Chandler, Arizona, and an HSMAI member

Holly signed on as a volunteer for KickCOVID.us and recruited additional volunteers throughout the industry so travelers can get accurate, up-to-date information that helps them safely patronize hospitality outlets.

Under Matt’s leadership, Wynn Resorts has actively participated in a variety of initiatives that have delivered the money, food, equipment, and supplies to medical personnel and first responders, food banks, schools, and civic organizations.

Each of these heroes will be celebrated as part of the 64th Annual Adrian Awards. This year, the Adrian Awards are focused on the best practices, innovation, and community shown in hospitality campaigns and coronavirus crisis responses. HSMAI has redesigned the Adrian Awards to reflect the current travel landscape and streamlined entry, lowered costs, as well as set a later submission deadline to allow recognition of more great work.

HSMAI is currently accepting Adrian Award entries through December 1st, 2020.

HSMAI Hospitality Hero: Matt Maddox

As part of the 2020 Adrian Awards, HSMAI Hospitality Heroes is honoring hospitality professionals for their efforts to take a leadership position, champion a cause, or create a program that has directly benefited industry workers, medical personnel, first responders, or communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

HOSPITALITY HERO: Matt Maddox, president and CEO of Wynn Resorts

CONTRIBUTION: Maddox is committed to supporting employees and communities affected by COVID-19 with relief efforts that fill financial and supply-chain gaps. Under his leadership, Wynn Resorts has actively participated in a variety of initiatives that have delivered money, food, equipment, and supplies to medical personnel and first responders, food banks, schools, and civic organizations.

RESULTS: During state-mandated closures in Nevada and Massachusetts, Maddox and Wynn Resorts committed to paying full compensation to all full- and part-time employees through May 31, 2020. Additionally, Maddox led the way to reopening resorts with the creation of a comprehensive Wynn Health & Safety Plan, developed with leading public health and medical professionals, and under his direction, Wynn Las Vegas partnered with University Medical Center to provide no-cost, onsite COVID-19 testing for more than 12,000 employees prior to reopening.

The company also procured and donated more than $4 million in financial aid, personal protective equipment, food and prepared meals, and essential cleaning and hygiene supplies to dozens of health-care facilities and local nonprofit organizations throughout Las Vegas and Boston. Additionally, Wynn Foundation donated $100,000 in funds to domestic violence shelters, and Maddox led Wynn’s participation in the ALL IN Challenge to fight food insecurity in the wake of COVID-19, which raised more than $700,000 for  several nonprofit organizations. Wynn Resorts also offered 10,000 hospital and medical workers, police, and firefighters a complimentary one-night stay at Wynn Las Vegas, and later partnered with Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada to offer Wynn employees professionally supervised virtual learning centers for their children during public-school closures.

NOMINATED BY: Pedram Pakneshan, assistant vice president of hotel sales for Wynn Las Vegas, and Monica Moradkhan, vice president of community relations for Wynn Resorts — “Mr. Maddox continuously demonstrates his commitment to our local communities. He avidly participates in a wide range of community initiatives and has been instrumental in the company’s increased philanthropic footprint. Mr. Maddox’s visionary leadership is an inspiration; his dedication to serving underrepresented populations in our communities and ensuring our employees have access to resources is admirable.”

The HSMAI Adrian Awards have been honoring excellence in travel marketing for 64 years. Entry information for the 2020 Adrian Awards will open October 1. For more information, visit www.adrianawards.com.

HSMAI Hospitality Hero: Holly Zoba

As part of the 2020 Adrian Awards, HSMAI Hospitality Heroes is honoring hospitality professionals for their efforts to take a leadership position, champion a cause, or create a program that has directly benefited industry workers, medical personnel, first responders, or communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

HOSPITALITY HERO: Holly Zoba, CHDM, owner of Scout Simply and Influencer Sales Training, based in Chandler, Arizona, and an HSMAI member

CONTRIBUTION: When a group of entrepreneurs launched KickCOVID.us, a crowdsourced website that provides free public health and safety data about hotels, restaurants, and other public locations across the United States, longtime hospitality evangelist Zoba promptly signed on as a volunteer. Then she recruited additional volunteers throughout the industry, including through her position as director of membership for the HSMAI Arizona Chapter, for which she created a promotional video.

RESULTS: KickCOVID’s tagline is “Spread the word, not the virus!” Thanks to Zoba and other industry volunteers, travelers are getting accurate, up-to-date information that helps them safely patronize hospitality outlets.

NOMINATED BY: Cheryl Street, CHSP, CHME, member of the HSMAI Arizona Chapter Board of Directors — “Holly is a problem solver with a genuine love for this industry. The definition of a doer is ‘a person who acts rather than merely talking or thinking.’ She is going to do everything she can to help this industry recover.”

The HSMAI Adrian Awards have been honoring excellence in travel marketing for 64 years. Entry information for the 2020 Adrian Awards will open October 1. For more information, visit www.adrianawards.com.

HSMAI Hospitality Hero: Geoffrey A. Mills

As part of the 2020 Adrian Awards, HSMAI Hospitality Heroes is honoring hospitality professionals for their efforts to take a leadership position, champion a cause, or create a program that has directly benefited industry workers, medical personnel, first responders, or communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Nominations are open.

HOSPITALITY HERO: Geoffrey A. Mills, regional vice president and general manager at Hudson New York for sbe Lifestyle Hospitality

CONTRIBUTION: Located on West 58th Street in Manhattan, the Hudson has stayed open throughout the pandemic. Under Mills’ leadership, the Hudson negotiated with city and state emergency-management agencies to serve medical workers and other first responders. Mills also purchased additional personal protective equipment (PPE) on behalf of the property and created protocols for safely housing first responders. And the Hudson’s sales team leveraged their connections to help find rooms for COVID-positive children in Brooklyn.

RESULTS: Mills has led the Hudson to donate nearly 2,000 thousand room nights as well as masks, sheets, pillowcases, gloves, and disinfectants to Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, which has been on the front lines of COVID-19; donate PPE to Mount Sinai in New York City and Holy Name Medical Center in New Jersey; and offer discounted stays to the staffs of staffs of Mount Sinai, NYU Langone Medical Center, and Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

NOMINATED BY: Darren Skomorowsky, director of sales and revenue management for Hudson New York — “It has now been five months since the world changed. I am sure we can all mark the first week of March as one of the scariest times, not just in our industry but for New York as a community. We here at the Hudson were fortunate — more fortunate than most — in that our leadership retained its tenacity, its grit, and determination. Geoffrey’s personality and leadership style pushed the team to find a way in the face of what was surely the greatest challenge we may ever face in our professional lives.”

The HSMAI Adrian Awards have been honoring excellence in travel marketing for 64 years. Entry information for the 2020 Adrian Awards will be available soon. For more information, visit www.adrianawards.com.

HSMAI Hospitality Hero: Ardy Edgerton

As part of the 2020 Adrian Awards, HSMAI Hospitality Heroes is honoring hospitality professionals for their efforts to take a leadership position, champion a cause, or create a program that has directly benefited industry workers, medical personnel, first responders, or communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Nominations are open.

HOSPITALITY HERO: Ardy Edgerton, CGTP, Senior National Account Executive for Red Roof

CONTRIBUTION: As one of Red Roof’s government travel specialists, Edgerton has strong connections with government agencies across the country which allowed her to quickly and efficiently support emergency management offices working to house vulnerable homeless communities during the pandemic.

RESULTS: Edgerton was instrumental in coordinating hotel leases to provide temporary housing options for more than 75 county, state, and federal emergency management offices, positioning Red Roof properties to provide homes for people who otherwise would be on the streets or in other high-risk environments.

NOMINATED BY: Marina MacDonald, chief marketing officer for Red Roof— “Ardy’s dedication and deep knowledge of processes and systems positioned Red Roof to effectively pivot in this new space for the brand. Her compassion for those most at-risk during this pandemic inspired operations and properties to quickly mobilize in this changing business environment.”

The HSMAI Adrian Awards have been honoring excellence in travel marketing for 64 years. Entry information for the 2020 Adrian Awards will be available soon. For more information, visit www.adrianawards.com.

HSMAI HOSPITALITY HERO: Yvette Koebke

As part of the 2020 Adrian Awards, HSMAI Hospitality Heroes is honoring hospitality professionals for their efforts to take a leadership position, champion a cause, or create a program that has directly benefited industry workers, medical personnel, first responders, or communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Nominations are open.

HOSPITALITY HERO: Yvette Koebke, director of sales and marketing for Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott Phoenix Downtown in Phoenix, Arizona

CONTRIBUTION: Faced with the prospect of laying off her entire sales team because of COVID-19, Koebke instead stepped down and gave her hours to her two sales managers. An artist and designer, Koebke then began selling prints of her artwork to raise money for colleagues who had been laid off, and created two facemasks to raise money for breast-cancer research in honor of a friend who has undergone a double mastectomy. She is also designing children’s facemasks with the goal of having people pay to donate them to a children’s hospital.

RESULTS: Koebke has distributed $1,000 in grocery money to 15 hospitality professionals from selling her prints, is donating $3 to a breast-cancer charity for each facemask she sells, and is matching each children’s facemask that someone donates with a second donated facemask.

NOMINATED BY: Joanne Winter, executive director of the HSMAI Arizona Chapter — “Yvette is a fabulous leader and it is quite obvious that she has the love and respect of all of her coworkers. To quote one of her salespeople: ‘Yvette has brought so much light and wisdom into my life. She strives to help people become the best versions of themselves. Her creativity matched with her generosity is something to be inspired by.’”

The HSMAI Adrian Awards have been honoring excellence in travel marketing for 64 years. Entry information for the 2020 Adrian Awards will be available soon. For more information, visit www.adrianawards.com.

HSMAI Hospitality Hero: Brian Stiglets

As part of the 2020 Adrian Awards, HSMAI Hospitality Heroes is honoring hospitality professionals for their efforts to take a leadership position, champion a cause, or create a program that has directly benefited industry workers, medical personnel, first responders, or communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Nominations are open.

HOSPITALITY HERO: Brian Stiglets, general manager of The Inn at Longwood Medical in Boston, Massachusetts

CONTRIBUTION: Given The Inn at Longwood Medical’s location within Boston’s Longwood Medical and Academic Area (LMA) — a globally renowned medical campus that includes medical schools, hospitals, and research institutions — Stiglets knew that his independent property couldn’t simply close its doors. From the first days of the pandemic, Stiglets kept The Inn open, including its restaurant, to continue serving LMA’s first responders as well as the patients coming to Boston from everywhere to receive critical care; he also arranged to serve more than 200 lunches to local hospitals, delivering the meals himself. And he’s prioritized the health of staff and guests, visiting pharmaceutical suppliers to procure sanitizer, gloves, masks, and other personal protective equipment — and he personally checks the temperatures of staff every morning.

RESULTS: Stiglets has kept most of his staff at least partially employed throughout COVID-19 while also providing valuable support to his local community of healthcare workers and patients.

NOMINATED BY: Gayle Sinclair, director of sales and marketing, and HeatherRose Linda, CRME, revenue manager, The Inn at Longwood Medical — “Brian managed to keep both the hotel and the restaurant open and operating, keeping most of the staff fully or at a minimum partially employed. He fairly shared shifts among the staff and was present every day to oversee that all were safe. He personally ensured that staff locker rooms were disinfected, allowed the staff to eat meals in the meeting rooms so they could be properly distanced, and if an employee were to say they were scared, he would calmly say, ‘Don’t be scared, this is what we do!’ Brian has been the perfect role model for his co-workers and for others in the industry.”

The HSMAI Adrian Awards have been honoring excellence in travel marketing for 64 years. Entry information for the 2020 Adrian Awards will be available soon. For more information, visit www.adrianawards.com.

HSMAI Hospitality Hero: Nicole McAlister

As part of the 2020 Adrian Awards, HSMAI Hospitality Heroes is honoring hospitality professionals for their efforts to take a leadership position, champion a cause, or create a program that has directly benefited industry workers, medical personnel, first responders, or communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Nominations are open.

HOSPITALITY HERO: Nicole McAlister, CHSE, area director of franchise services for Choice Hotels International, working out of Schertz, Texas, an HSMAI member and Austin chapter board member

CONTRIBUTION: McAlister has focused on spreading positivity and energy not just in the industry but throughout her community. At the outset of the COVID-19 crisis, she sent personal letters to owners in Choice’s portfolio as well as other industry contacts — enclosing for each a packet of flower seeds, reassuring them that they will get through this, and urging them to focus on the beauty that will bloom from the seeds. She also chairs her local Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, championing virtual 5K “hot runs” to raise awareness and promote fitness, and has coordinated donations and volunteer work by her hotel for area food banks.

RESULTS: Through her efforts, McAlister has served as a beacon of optimism during a dark time.

NOMINATED BY: Nick Miller, area director of franchise services for Choice Hotels International — “Nicole has a passion for others’ success, achievements, and happiness, and that is what makes Nicole a great colleague, friend, and leader. I sometimes don’t think she stops thinking; she is always creating ways for everyone to be involved, give to the community, be stronger leaders, and she definitely puts service above self to the fullest.”

The HSMAI Adrian Awards have been honoring excellence in travel marketing for 64 years. Entry for the 2020 Adrian Awards will open October 1. For more information, visit www.adrianawards.com.

HSMAI Hospitality Hero: Peter Ricci

As part of the 2020 Adrian Awards, HSMAI Hospitality Heroes is honoring hospitality professionals for their efforts to take a leadership position, champion a cause, or create a program that has directly benefited industry workers, medical personnel, first responders, or communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Nominations are open.

HOSPITALITY HERO: Dr. Peter Ricci, CHA, CHSE, CRME, director of the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Boca Raton, Florida, and an HSMAI member.

CONTRIBUTION: During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it became clear that there would be layoffs and furloughs throughout the industry, Ricci came up with the idea of offering a somewhat condensed version of FAU’s Certificate in Hospitality and Tourism Management at no charge for hospitality professionals who were affected. FAU’s entire Hospitality and Tourism Management faculty helped Ricci put together the five-part online course.

RESULTS: More than 77,000 people enrolled in the program and more than 45,000 completed it and were awarded the certificate.

NOMINATED BY: Gregory T. Bohan, Hospitality Management instructor at Florida Atlantic University — “Working side by side with Dr. Ricci, all of us on the faculty were completely awed by his dedication to launching the program as an effort to help out our ailing industry. He had many sleepless nights not only designing and administering the program but responding one by one to thousands of emails expressing appreciation. He truly deserves to be recognized for his outstanding effort during this time of need.”

The HSMAI Adrian Awards have been honoring excellence in travel marketing for 64 years. Entry information for the 2020 Adrian Awards will be available soon. For more information, visit www.adrianawards.com.

HSMAI Hospitality Hero: Jean-Cédric Callies

As part of the 2020 Adrian Awards, HSMAI Hospitality Heroes is honoring hospitality professionals for their efforts to take a leadership position, champion a cause, or create a program that has directly benefited industry workers, medical personnel, first responders, or communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Nominations are open.

HOSPITALITY HERO: Jean-Cédric Callies, director of sales and marketing for Hotel Monville in Montreal, Quebec, and an HSMAI member

CONTRIBUTION: Since the start of the pandemic, Callies has played a unifying role within the Montreal hospitality industry. In addition to leading the Monville to supply prepared meals to first responders working at the University of Montreal Health Center, Callies has launched a variety of initiatives to support both the property and the community, including collaborating with the Old Montreal Business Society to make unoccupied suites available for rental as private workspaces, and having the Monville use lit and unlit guest-room windows to create the shape of a heart as a show of solidarity with the city. He has also been an active participant in industry conversations around recovery, participating in roundtables and virtual interviews.

RESULTS: Callies has offered a positive model for how a hotel can remain an active, relevant presence in its community whether its doors are open or not.

NOMINATED BY: Guillaume Dupuis, director of ecommerce for Iber Immobilier, which manages the Hotel-St. Paul and the Residence Inn by Marriott Montreal–Westmount — “Jean-Cédric is a real source of inspiration through his positivism and his ability to analyze the situation. He is an outstanding communicator, a partner in the industry that I wish everyone had.”

The HSMAI Adrian Awards have been honoring excellence in travel marketing for 64 years. Entry information for the 2020 Adrian Awards will be available soon. For more information, visit www.adrianawards.com.