These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heather Allison was recently named the complex director of sales and marketing of New York Marriott Marquis + Sheraton New York Times Square.
1. What are you looking forward to the most in your new role?
Leading the sales teams of two of the most iconic hotels in the world’s greatest city is an incredible opportunity in itself. It is an exciting time to be in New York with the planned transformation and reimagination of the New York Marriott Marquis and the repositioning of the Sheraton brand, to be the world’s gathering place. With the expansion of Javits Center, industry collaborations in New York City like “Times Squared” and the “New York 5000” will allow us to introduce the city to global events that couldn’t consider bringing an event to New York City in the past.
2. How do you think past experiences have prepared you for this role?
I joined the hotel industry in the early '90s during the Gulf War, and subsequently led teams through two major economic downturns. My experience in the smaller brands taught me how to be scrappy and entrepreneurial, and the big brands gave me structure, training and the opportunity to learn from the best hospitality professionals in the industry. My tenure with The Ritz-Carlton opened my eyes to the real magic of creating exceptional guest experiences, and how every single thing you say, do and present to a guest matters. And finally, my last five years at L.A. LIVE introduced me to Marriott’s Convention & Resort Network, which gave me the framework for applying all that I had learned over the course of my 25-year career to hotels of this size, New York Marriott Marquis and Sheraton New York Times Square.
3. How did you get into the industry?
Like many of my peers, I initially had no aspirations to be in hospitality. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I moved to Florida to do my masters in Speech Language Pathology. I got a job in a hotel as the receptionist in the sales office and fell in love with the industry. So I guess you can say I didn’t choose hospitality – it chose me.
4. What are you hoping to achieve in your new role?
What I hope to achieve ties largely into what I am looking most forward to. The New York Marriott Marquis is undergoing a major repositioning, with a complete transformation of the hotel’s guest rooms and public spaces unlike anything the hotel has undergone in its 35-year history. The Sheraton New York Times Square has evolved with the repositioning of the Sheraton brand, the most global within our portfolio, with thoughtful service and a desire to bring new experiences to life for our guests. I hope to leverage these exciting changes and collaborate with my industry partners to bring new business to the hotels and the city.
5. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
To work in hospitality, you must have a passion for making others happy and find joy in serving others, which means I work with amazing people who care deeply for our guests and for each other. We aren’t co-workers, we are family, and I love what I do. Through hospitality, I have made lifelong friends in every hotel and city.