Have you heard of conscious capitalism? Capitalism isn’t inextricably tied to greed; it’s also about buying power and turning consumer spending into charitable giving. If you’re familiar with Tom’s Shoes, the one-for-one model that pairs a purchase of shoes with a donation to a needy recipient, you’ll understand Hotels for Hope. This company’s tagline is “Book rooms. Change lives.” It’s a powerful message and it’s exactly what drew hospitality industry veteran Michael Shannon to the Austin, Texas-based startup a little over a year ago.

Shannon is a 32-year veteran with well-rounded experience, including most recently as director of global sales at MGM Resorts, so he knows a thing or two about the buying power of groups. “Planners aren’t changing anything they do when they work with H4H,” says Shannon. “They’re just booking through our platform.”

Each actualized room night generates a $2 donation to children’s charities around the world—at no cost to the planner ($1 comes from the hotels and $1 comes from H4H). It’s a win-win in an industry that books room nights daily. “We help clients fulfill their corporate social responsibility,” says Shannon, explaining that clients are able to earmark the funds collected from their bookings to the children’s charity of their choosing (preselected by H4H). “Clients are able to co-create an experience, say by helping buy books for a library.”

The New Jersey-based Shannon spent the first nine months shuttling back and forth to Austin, and while his role was to assemble a nationwide team and develop strategic partner- ships, he still gets involved in the nitty-gritty. “I have clients that call me directly. We’ll talk about what they want and often they know what hotel they want and already have a contact, but I’ll streamline the process. I don’t have customers. I have friends,” says Shannon, who is finding this latest challenge to be especially rewarding. “I relish learning from this next generation and work with very talented millenials. I am learning more than I did 10 years ago. It’s so refreshing.” 

Greater Boston CVB head Martha J. Sheridan has found that staying in step with colleagues is the best way to navigate the pandemic. 

 

League City CVB manager Stephanie Polk shares her career journey.

Originally from Kentwood, Louisiana, Stephanie Polk, TDM, CTE, first made her mark on the travel and tourism industry as director of marketing for the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. There, she helped to elevate the city as a destination for recreation travelers and business groups. Wowed by her accomplishments, in 2020, League City brought her on board to lead its marketing efforts. She shares with us highlights and advice from her experience in the industry. 

 

Event planning and experience design go hand in hand. Just ask Maria Moyano, experience designer for the Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC), based in NYC. “I think that everything is an event. You can go have coffee, and that’s an event. Everything is also an experience. You feel happy, and that’s an experience. It’s about what you are trying to get out of the event—and then how does an experience elevate it,” says Moyano.