Director, Global Accounts
For starting HB Huddle, which brings together colleagues from their home offices once a month to hear different perspectives, solve problems, and build a support network
Often, associates who work in home offices try to figure out work issues all on their own. But when you don’t have people to bounce things off of, it’s hard to be your best. The HB Huddle started in summer 2017 with the idea that maybe we could get a few people together from around the Minneapolis metro area to learn from each other’s experiences. As for me, I contribute my experiences from being on the hotel side and get our planners to better understand why hotels do what they do. We meet once a month to address topics relevant to our business, and we make each other a bit better than when we walked in that day. We keep the group at 10 people maximum so it doesn’t get too hard to manage, but members must attend at least six huddles per year. We do half of them at public gathering places, and the other half at new or renovated event venues around Minneapolis so we can do a site tour afterwards. It’s just 90 minutes, a working lunch. Basically, I am trying to rescue one planner at a time.
I’m working on creating something that would allow planners and suppliers to engage in conversations on uncomfortable topics more honestly. Many planners and suppliers won’t ask each other certain questions because they’re afraid it will damage the relationship. I want to create a platform where people can ask questions anonymously, and folks from the other side of the table can answer anonymously, so that planners and suppliers can understand each other’s needs.
In the third-party world, we have to change our way of doing business all the time based on how clients want to source, locate, and negotiate, and how our supplier partners want to work with us. I revisit my business model quarterly and adjust it to what makes sense in today’s economy. Always go forward because standing still is the same as going backwards.
Advice Peers Ask of You
Most questions I get are, “Why did the hotel respond like this?” or “Is what they told me true?” It feels good to provide insight from the other side of the fence, and get planners to think like a hotelier and then find a way to make things work for both the hotel and the client.
My friends joke about how many different business plans I have created over the years. I’m always looking for ways to do things better and smarter. I think this comes from being exposed to challenging circumstances when my family migrated from the Middle East. I had to think and act differently in order to fit in with American society, and I did it well.
My biggest role model was a hotel VP of sales who, despite being younger than me, was so wise and got me to think differently. My career really started to click after that. He told me, “You must take the emotion out of most situations and focus on the big picture. Facts and trends don’t lie. Stay on top of the trends and be proactive, not reactive. Use your emotions in the sales part of your work but look at everything else objectively so you can see the big picture for what it really is.”
Got a Spare Hour?
I catch up with friends. Personal connections should never be taken for granted. Tomorrow is not guaranteed!