Soundbites Podcast

Soundbites is the 10-minute podcast for busy hoteliers looking to learn from their peers and other industry experts. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Play, and watch on YouTube.

Social leads at Virgin Hotel Dallas

Raul Moronta, Chief Commercial Officer, Remington Hotels, joins Jason from one of their properties in Santa Fe, New Mexico to talk about his new role.

Raul talks about Remington’s decision to create the CCO role, his background that led up to securing a the position, the necessary skill sets for the role, understanding customer behavior, the importance of understanding operations, and more.

Guest: Raul Moronta, CCO, Remington Hotels, Santa Fe, NM

Social leads at Virgin Hotel Dallas

Marcela Ceccacci Brown, Director of Sales, for Virgin Hotels, in Dallas, Texas, joins Jason on this episode of Soundbites.

Marcela talks about the healthy uptick in not only social leads, but corporate as well, Virgin’s sales org chart, their ‘all hands on deck’ mentality, and what photo shoots with local talent is doing for their social media presence.

Guest: Marcela Ceccacci Brown, Dir. Sales, Virgin Hotels, Dallas

Every euro counts.

Patty de Gruiter, Vice President of Revenue and Sales, for Sircle Collection, joins Jason from her office in Amsterdam, Netherlands, to talk about alternative revenue streams.

Patty talks about the enjoyment and frustrations of managing revenue amid the pandemic, the adjustments she’s had to make—running lean, minimizing risks, and then there’s the creative campaigns: win a year-long stay, popup stores, music festivals, housing, and more.

Guest: Patty de Gruiter, V.P. Revenue and Sales, Sircle Collection, Amsterdam

Your love for your hotel gets in the way

Maria Corpas, hospitality and travel tech Copywriter, joins Jason from her office in Germany.

Maria talks about messaging that turns lookers into bookers amid the pandemic: protocols in place, amenities, and nearby attractions, the mistakes she sees hotels are making, and how your love for your hotel gets in the way of good copywriting.

She also suggests, oddly for a copywriter, that hotels compliment their written messages with video messages.

Guest: Maria Corpas, Hospitality and Travel Tech Copywriter, Germany

Collaboration is key

Sean Lynch, Vice President, Revenue Management, for Graduate Hotels, joins Jason, on this episode of Soundbites, from Las Vegas, Nevada.

Sean talks about his 30+ hotels across the US, located in dynamic university markets, and keeping a core revenue team focused on standardization and cancellations amid the pandemic.

He explains how the revenue team restructured, collaboration increased between Sales, Revenue, Marketing, and eCommerce, and their adjusting to the triggers that help forecast.

Guest: Sean Lynch, V.P., Revenue Management, Graduate Hotels, Las Vegas

The family spring break in Florida

Sharon Vaughn, Associate Director of Sales, Hotel Effie Sandestin, joins Jason from her office in Miramar Beach, Florida.

Sharon talks about being furloughed by Marriott, Effie’s recent opening, a busy spring break (G-rated), lead volume increasing with groups, adjusting to the new normal, and more.

Guest: Sharon Vaughn, Assoc. Dir. Sales, Hotel Effie Sandestin, Florida

The Chief Commercial Officer role at Sonesta

Garine Ferejian-Mayo, Chief Commercial Officer at Sonesta Hotels, joins Jason from her office in New York City.

Garine talks about her background in Operations, Sales, Digital Marketing, and Revenue Management, Sonesta’s rapid growth from 53 to 278 hotels, and how they came to the decision to create the CCO position.

Guest: Garine Ferejian-Mayo, CCO, Sonesta Hotels, New York

Getting ready for travel’s rebound

Nicolas Durand, Vice President, Revenue Strategy, S Hotels and Resorts, joins Jason from his office in Bangkok, Thailand.

Nicolas talks about the lack of cases in Bangkok, but also the lack of travel, S Hotels moving from owners to a management company, with hotels in Thailand, Maldives (Hard Rock), and the U.K.

He goes on about how his role has changed, doing more with less, and the putting together of their technology stack: channel manager, booking engine, BI, and optimizing all that he can, given the different markets.

Guest: Nicolas Durand, V.P., Revenue Strategy, S Hotels & Resorts

Open systems for open minds

Martin Reichenbach, Founder, apaleo, joins Jason from his office in Munich, Germany.

Martin talks about the company’s recent Series A Funding, what makes apaleo different, the ‘closedness’ amongst the PMS’s, and what the 2nd half of 2021 looks like.

Guest: Martin Reichenbach, apaleo, Germany

Time to innovate

Luis Weir, Director, Integrations and APIS Strategy, with Oracle Hospitality, joins Jason, from Royal Leamington Spa, England.

Luis breaks down Oracle’s Hospitality Integration Platform or OHIP, the streamlining and consolidating of all the interface technologies, to build integrations to Opera, simpler, quicker, cheaper.

Guest: Luis Weir, Dir., Integrations and APIS Strategy, Oracle Hospitality

Everyone is welcome at Big Mama’s

David-Friedemann Henning, CEO & Co-Founder, of Big Mama Hotels, joins Jason, from his office in Leipzig, Germany.

David explains the ‘all-welcome’ experience that turn first-timers into repeat guests, talks about the adjustments needed for his city-center hotels (Berlin, Leipzig), using their CRM to keep guests informed, and a couple of sellouts in Nov-Dec.

Though Germany continues to be in lockdown, he sees a light at the end of the tunnel, and is staying positive.

Finally, he lets us in on how the name, Big Mama Hotels, came to be.

Guest: David-Friedemann Henning, CEO, Big Mama Hotels, Berlin

Will hotel staffing suffer from demand shock?

Ryan MacDonald, VP of Revenue & E-Commerce, with Palm Holdings, joins Jason from his home in Toronto, Canada.

Ryan says GMs are the unsung heroes, from folding laundry, making breakfast bags, checking people in, everything within Operations.

And, being prepared for travel’s full comeback could prove tricky. Staff that stayed-on throughout the pandemic has not been busy and are out of practice, and trying to find staff that is willing to come back could be tough as well.

Ryan will rely on their internal belief that ‘everybody is responsible for revenue management at Palm,’ and not hire right away, once demand reaches healthy levels, but stresses there’s going to be a learning curve for frontline employees out of practice.

Guest: Ryan MacDonald, VP of Revenue & E-Commerce, Palm Holdings,Canada.

Video is worth 10,000 words

Amy Draheim, Owner, ABD Creative, joins Jason from her office in Bend, Oregon.

Amy talks about her hotel clients shutting down at the onset of the pandemic, her conviction that hotels should not stop communicating with the market, despite the lack of travel, the origins of her How To Share communicate podcast, and breaks down where hotels should be communicating their story, and the importance of video and user generated content.

Guest: Amy Draheim, Owner, ABD Creative, Oregon

Life Happened

Rika Robertson, Hotel Manager, with Citrus Hotel, joins Jason from her hotel in Eastbourn, England, home of the white cliffs and possibly, the stairway to heaven.

Rika’s been ‘working her socks off’ with staff being furloughed and their ability to stay open, hosting key workers. She talks about the changes that have had to take place, her opportunity to ‘take stock,’ and their marketing and sales efforts. She also wrote a book a while back that is so applicable to our current times, ‘Life Happened.’ You can get it free at

Guest: Rika Robertson, Hotel Manager, with Citrus Hotel,Eastbourn, England

Revenue and Marketing under one hat

Jonathan Liu, Director of Revenue and Marketing Strategy with glh Hotels, joining Jason from London, England.

Jonathan talks about glh’s diverse 18 hotels, including the Hard Rock London, how and why revenue and marketing are falling under his purview, moving his website to a new CMS platform to have more dynamic activity, configuring a new CRM, and looking at revenue management systems, trying to bring everything they’re doing from a marketing perspective and relate it back to their revenue systems how they price and yield, trying to make a seamless eco-system of everything coming together.

Guest: Jonathan Liu, Director of Revenue & Marketing Strategy, glh Hotels, London

Revenue Management in Latin America

Florencia Benaim, Founder, MOI consultancy, joins me from Argentina.

Florencia talks about Argentina’s struggles, her 3x rescheduled wedding, her boutique, revenue management consulting firm, the lack of RMS’s in Latin America, how her clients in Mexico are doing, and how Instagram has brought lots of bookings!

Guest: Florencia Benaim, Founder, MOI, Argentina

Nature Called Last Summer

Matthew Taormino, General Manager, Dunham’s Bay Resort, from upstate New York, joins Jason on this episode of the Soundbites podcast.

Matthew talks about his 20-room, 20-cabin, family resort on Lake George, parenting staff through the pandemic, the stall of their critical wedding business, while enjoying 75%-80% occupancy throughout June, July, August, and September.

Matthew also talks about their in-house management of social media and their successful campaign, ‘100 Days of Summer.’

Guest: Matthew Taormino, General Manager, Dunham’s Bay Resort, New York

Texas is open!

Texas drops virus restrictions yesterday! So, let’s talk to a Business Travel Manager in San Antonio. Jasmin Gutierrez, with the Valencia Hotel Group, joins me on the latest episode of the Soundbites Podcast.

Jasmine talks about how they are handling Texas’ move away from restrictions, and even though their business travel didn’t completely dry up, her role now includes weddings and events. Old hat for Jasmine, back in the day, she worked her way up in hospitality, first as a hostess, then a restaurant manager, and catered for 8 years.

Guest: Jasmin Gutierrez, Valencia Hotel Group, San Antonio, TX

Ask a Concierge

Sarah Dandashy, Travel Expert, with Ask A Concierge, joins me from Los Angeles.

Sarah talks about her recent travels, what hotels are doing well–depending on the location and destination, how good her Mexico experience has been, and where we are headed this Spring and Summer.

Guest: Sarah Dandashy, Ask A Concierge, LA

Poster child for meetings amid the pandemic?

Is Mohegan Sun the poster child for how to conduct meetings amid the pandemic?

John Washko, VP of Expo & Convention Sales at Mohegan Sun, joins me from Boca Raton, Florida, to explain.

John talks about re-opening his 5.5MM square foot facility 😮 last June, and hosting some 50 meetings since it’s re-opening.

He goes on to describe how their world-class indoor arena has been transformed into a international broadcast center, the ‘bubble’ environment they’ve managed to create, spending over $1MM in implementing safety protocols, and much more!>

Guest: John Washko, VP of Expo & Convention Sales at Mohegan Sun, Florida

What has happened to a hotel’s data amid the pandemic?

Kelly McGuire, Managing Principal at ZS, joins me from Washington, D.C.

Kelly talks about ZS and their focus on commercial and analytics, a recent article she published on what has happened to a hotel’s data amid the pandemic. She walks us through categorizing our data:

  • leading signal
  • evolving signal
  • stable signal
  • experimental signal
  • and fine-tuning analytical models

Guest: Kelly McGuire, ZS, Washington City

News from Mews

Richard Valtr, Founder of Mews, the Amsterdam-based PMS, joins me from New York City.

Richard talks backing off their big push to sell in the states after their series B funding in 2019, to focusing on further development of their PMS in wait of travel’s rebound, their latest projects, and the two-way interface with our CRS, Windsurfer.

Guest: Richard Valtr, Mews in Amsterdam, New York City

No one is traveling to Amsterdam at the moment

Dave Overeem, Corporate Revenue Manager with Inntel Hotels, joins Jason from Amsterdam.

Dave talks about the lockdown in Amsterdam, building 2 new hotels, how his role has changed, and travel’s near term future.

Guest: Dave Overeem, Inntel Hotels, Amsterdam

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