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In the midst of difficult times, HSMA honors its own

THE VIRTUS awards by the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) Philippines continues to honor professionals and institutions in hospitality: a particularly difficult career during the last two years due to the pandemic disrupting that industry.

Ericka Joy Calamba, Hotel 101 Group’s Sales Executive for MICE, was awarded as Outstanding Sales and Marketing Associate. Robinsons Hotels and Resorts Group Director of Sales and Marketing Joy de Mesa was awarded Outstanding Sales and Marketing Leader, and Alexis John Aquino, former Marketing and Communications Manager of JPark Island Resort & Waterpark Mactan, Cebu, was awarded Outstanding Sales and Marketing Manager.

The Conrad Hotel Manila was awarded Outstanding Marketing Campaign for their Meetings To Go/Signature Takeaway campaign, which went beyond creating an effective marketing campaign that drove sales and brand equity and became a true innovation that pushed boundaries and helped move the industry forward — all within a limited budget.

HSMA also awarded special awards this year in recognition of the resiliency of their selected properties. Okada Manila earned this year’s Virtus Award for Most Resilient Business — Property.

According to Victor Galzote, Okada Manila director of corporate marketing and communications in a statement, Okada Manila won its award for “its three-pronged approach, which enabled us to reinvent our offerings based on consumer insights we’ve gathered, which, basically, show their need to experience a semblance of normalcy again.” Part of this approach was also to effectively maximize its participation in e-commerce channels through special monthly online sales on Lazada and Shopee, which served to supplement its direct and OTA bookings. A statement from the HSMA said, “These efforts, plus their proactive approach in enforcing strict safety standards, have also earned Okada Manila official verification under the Forbes Travel Guide/Sharecare Certification as compliant with all safety requirements.” At the time of certification, only 134 properties worldwide were certified, with 17 based in Asia, and only three in the Philippines.

A second award was given to the Chroma Hospitality Group (behind the Crimson chain and Azure), for Most Resilient — Hospitality Group Award. According to a statement, this is because of “their ability to keep occupancy rate up with their bubble initiatives.” This included their properties in Boracay where their tourist bubble provided livelihood to the tourism-dependent island. In Clark, their athlete bubble became home to the PBA in September 2020, catering even to the dietary needs of their clientele, like serving kosher meals for an Israeli team.

“The Virtus Awards have allowed the HSMA and its outstanding members to move on with a renewed confidence that the light is now getting brighter,” said Rose Libongco, Virtus chair, in a speech. “Encouraged by the upbeat outcome of HSMA projects, we are conscious of the next steps to keep going and building on achievements. We see it best to remain united and be ahead of the game, be strong and keep the momentum towards developing an emerging future.

“In this second year of the scourging pandemic, we are less scared, less tentative as we persevere to keep going against odds and make the difficult possible. Undaunted by the uncertainty, we choose to see the opportunities.” — JLG

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