The Dream Weavers

October 18, 2019
by Filinvest Development Corporation

SALES and marketing staff are the backbone of most businesses, especially in the hospitality industry. Without them, rooms are not booked and revenues are not earned. They spell the difference between success and failure for their establishment.

Every year, the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association Inc. (HSMA) recognizes the best among the sales and marketing professionals of their industry, as well as the successful marketing campaigns that brought in the guests to check out these establishments. The Virtus Awards, now in its fifth year, were handed out on October 14, at the elegant Forbes Ballroom of Conrad Manila. It was not just a night to toast to the best of the hotel sales and marketing professionals, but also to celebrate HSMA’s 40th anniversary—and what a ruby red memorable fete it was.

Gracing the spirited occasion was Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat, resplendent in her vintage cobalt blue gown with ivory touches by Inno Sotto. She acknowledged HSMA as “among the first tourism industry associations that reached out and expressed its support when I was appointed secretary of the [Department of Tourism].”

Also lending support to their hotel colleagues were Jose C. Clemente III, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, and Cesar Cruz, president of the Philippine Tour Operators Association.

Sales and marketing are challenging jobs, which, as HSMA President Christine U. Ibarreta stresses, is not for the faintheared. She laughingly recalls being chased by a dog and tearing her stockings en route to her client presentation at a government office. “They looked at my disheveled appearance, and decided to book all their events with me out of what I hope to be admiration for my grit!”

Before the awards were handed out, guests were entertained by WCOPA Team Philippines who performed songs from popular Broadway musicals like Chicago, Cats, Miss Saigon and the hit film The Greatest Showman.

This year’s winners of the Virtus Awards are: Rigil Kent Acapulco (The Bellevue Manila) and Ian Bencio David

(Conrad Manila) for Outstanding Sales and Marketing Associate; Marvia Jelizha Villarin (The Bellevue Hotels and Resorts) for Outstanding Sales and Marketing Manager; Evangeline Imperial (Solaire Resort Manila), Outstanding Sales and Marketing Leader; and Taal Vista Hotel 80th Anniversary: Here for Always (Taal Vista Hotel) and Passionately Pink (Crimson Hotel Filinvest City) for Outstanding Marketing Campaign.

Of the Virtus Awards, Romulo Puyat said, “The DOT hopes that more and more people will be encouraged by it, to take into heart our common goal of raising competitiveness in tourism, and, most important, of instilling in everyone the culture of excellence and making tourism as a way of life.”

The search for the outstanding sales and marketing professionals, as well as marketing campaign this year took over six months, with the vetting process spearheaded by a committee comprised of Virtus Awards Chairman Rose H. Libongco and the sitting HSMA board comprised of HSMA Chairman Margie Munsayac of Bluewater Resorts, Ibarreta of Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila, Vice President Benjie Martinez of Bayleaf Hotels, Treasurer Carmela Bocanegra of Chroma Hospitality, Secretary Cristina Carreon of Marriott Hotel Manila, Memberships Director Tet Romualdo of Linden Suites, Education Director Michael Jaey Albaña of Conrad Hotel Manila, Programs Director Amie Villena of Bellevue Resorts Bohol, and PR Director Pearl Maclang of Marco Polo Davao. This year’s immensely competitive group of nominees came from Bayleaf Intramuros, The Bellevue Hotels and Resorts, Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort, City of Dreams Manila, Conrad Hotel Manila, Crimson Hotel Filinvest, Crimson Resort and Spa Boracay, Diamond Hotel Philippines, Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila, Hotel 101 Manila, Hotel Jen Manila by Shangri-La, Joy Nostalg Hotels and Suites Manila, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Lima Park Hotel, Midas Hotel and Casino, Oxford Suites Makati, Quest Hotel and Conference Center Cebu, Seda Hotel Abreeza, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, Solaire Resorts Manila, and Taal Vista Hotel.

Libongco, a seasoned hotelier, put it best: “This is the reason for the Virtus Awards. Because the job of sales and marketing associates, managers and leaders are the most nerve-wracking in hotels. The challenge of delivering the unforgiving numerical and financial targets of the hotel alters blood pressures, promotes creativity in explaining shortfalls, and encourages religiosity in begging one’s favorite saints to help deliver this month’s gaps in the next production report.

“The best of the pack don’t flinch at their multimillion/billion peso goals—they have ice in their veins and fire in their bellies. They are sales forces of the first water—they are solution providers and, therefore, they are dream weavers, conjurers, magicians, the life of hotels and resorts.”To all the winners, congratulations.

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