Category: Blog
Spotlight Interview: Alex Vizcaino

Assistant Director of Sales
Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort

 

How long have you been in the hospitality industry? and what have been your biggest challenges and greatest accomplishments? 

I have been in the hospitality industry now for 14 years, first starting off in the spa world and then moving to the hotels side in 2007 when I graduated from Florida International University. It was at Mandarin Oriental Miami that I found my true passion for Hotel Sales before joining Four Seasons Hotel Miami back in 2013, and continuing to grow until this very day. The biggest challenge would be adjusting my sales style to the different markets and cultures that I have handled, they operate totally different. A client in Latin America handles business completely different than a client from the Northeast US. Greatest accomplishments have been those clients that I can now call friends, I have built life long relationships along the way and traveled the world thanks to Four Seasons. My greatest mentor has been Johanna Marlin, who now works for RC Key Biscayne as the DOS, she took the time to always mentor me and I carry that same vision to our team. Nothing better than empowering them, seeing them grow into a higher management role. And of course closing a huge million dollar piece of business is always a great accomplishment too.

 

What are the new and exciting plans for the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort for 2017? 

We are still celebrating being new as we opened our doors in August 2014!!! Disney’s newest Avatar attraction is opening up soon which will steer an influx of travelers into the destination and our Resort. We are the only AAA 5 Diamond Resort in all Central Florida to have a partnership with Disney too! We will also be hosting the Diamond Resorts International Golf Tournament in January 2018, which captured millions of viewers on the NBC Golf Channel this past January….be sure to tune in January 2018! And we cannot forget the construction of our single family private residence component directly across from the Resort…..the homes are selling around $7 million so be sure to put in your deposit soon.

  
You have been part of some of the most successful properties in South Florida. What is your method for success? 

Dedication, focus and teamwork! 

  
As an Assistant Director of Sales at one of most luxurious hotels in such a popular destination, what are your favorite spots at the moment, and why? 

Besides The Food and Wine Festival in Epcot which takes place in the Fall, and our rooftop Spanish steakhouse (Capa), I would say I love to discover little hidden gems. The Stubborn Mule, Pharmacy (which is a speak easy accessed through an elevator door) and Bartaco are my local places you can find me. 

  
Now a little bit about yourself.  How do you spend your down time? 

Family and friends coming to visit me, and giving them the guided tour of Orlando! I am a big foodie so love to try different places for Sunday Funday Brunch….I have also been dedicating a lot of time to decorating the home I recently purchased, it’s a never ending project! 

 

Describe a typical day in your job as Assistant Director of Sales at your property? 

Since we have the majority of our Group Sales team deployed in their respective markets (West Coast, Mid-West and Northeast), my DOS and I share the duty of executing a WOW client site experience visit for our sales managers that don’t live in Orlando. My day to day calendar is built around the multiple client visits on a daily / weekly basis. I attend a daily meeting at 11am where we all go over new business that requires pattern or rate approvals so we can answer our clients the same day. Thursday’s are certainly the busier days where we all dial-in for pipeline review, and also attend our Yield Revenue meeting to ensure we have the appropriate sales strategies in place for the next 90 days. 

 

Whats your favorite sales pitch method? 

Story telling! You cannot feature dump to clients since they will never remember you after talking or visiting 20 hotels, when you tailor your sales pitch to a personal story….you are golden! 

 

What do you find most rewarding about being in sales? 

The travel opportunities, relationships with clients, growing the business year over year and empowering the team!! 

 

Where do you find your inspiration? Where does your talent stem from? 

Self-motivation, my mentors throughout the years….and waking up every day wanting to come to work, it pays off when a company believes in you! 


Putting function back into design and aesthetic

While Boho, Shabby Chic and Rustic decors were everywhere in 2016, this year we have noticed that events’ décor is eclectic yet subtle.  There is also an uprising of a mix between natural vegetation and textures, industrial design and geometry.

Also, present so far is leather, marble, bronze, brass and black steel.

There is a huge impact from the Fashion and Interior Design industries that are making it important to event designers to carefully select elements that have an impact on how guests feel in the space. We are seeing creative executions at all our events based on these industries that are putting together natural settings that foster attendee well being and comfortable areas allowing guests to connect on a different level and planners to communicate through a different channel.


Beyond the Ballroom

Unique event space is becoming increasingly important to planners.  

As business culture is becoming less formal, so is the atmosphere that people are choosing to conduct meetings. Borrowing from the AirBnB platform, Splacer.co enables planners and small venue owners to start a dialogue. Having first launched 3 years ago in in Tel-Aviv, last month Splacer launched its Miami market.  Creative spaces in private home, restaurants, photos studios, and even churches in Magic City can now be found at:

https://www.splacer.co/


HP Raises the Bar at Coachella

Technology is revolutionizing the way people experience brands. Tech giant, HP, is leading this movement at Coachella, a music and arts festival, to make it an even more unforgettable experience. 

Obscura Digital, powered by HP, created The Antarctic this year, a fascinating 360- degree sensory experience exclusive to festival goers. This mind-blowing audiovisual journey was housed inside of a 11,000-square foot dome making this the largest projection dome in the world.

The 500- seat planetarium style theater invited guests to lay on the bean bag chairs and enjoy this 10-minute show all day long. The dome offered festival goers an opportunity to travel through space, the human body and cubist landscapes in an air-conditioned dome for a chance to escape the desert heat. 

This A/V experience was the most innovative art installation at the festival that wowed all viewers, predominantly millennials. 

HP eventually wants to change the way people experience Coachella by driving an emotional connection by bringing experiences into new physical spaces and this is only the beginning. 


Elevating Incentive Travel

Travel incentives are a business tool designed to encourage employee performance to drive profits. A happy employee is a motived employee, right? At the end of each of these once in a lifetime trips, one leaves motivated to make it to next year’s destination.  They work hard all year long just to qualify for an invitation. In order to keep these experiences desirable, it is important to keep a few things in mind.

Most important is to not lose sight of the purpose of the trip: to reward high performance. Choosing fresh and upgraded destinations rich with accommodations and activities fit to appeal across all demographics is key. Ensuring both the thrill seeker and the low-key crowd have plenty to enjoy while keeping blocks of free leisure time will ensure a carefree and enjoyable experience. Even more-so, keeping necessary content limited and to the point will keep the focus on the much-needed time for your attendees to recharge.

Evening events should be casual, inviting, and elevated. It ends every day with mystery as to what comes next. Going with chic décor rather than the mainstream themed night may create a more festive ambiance while keeping a professional air to the evenings. Adding new event technology, such is virtual reality experiences will keep your attendees engaged and motived for next year.


Spotlight interview: Power Veterans Initiative
For this month’s spotlight interview we wanted to change things up a bit and highlight not just the work of one person but the remarkable impact a company can have on the community. We had a chance to sit down with Asher Raphael, Co-CEO of Power Home Remodeling Group, a company that doesn’t just surpass their own professional goals and ambitions but also finds time to give back in the best way possible.
  1. Why was the Veterans Initiative created? What made Power want to reach out to Veterans in specific?

In 2015, Power was named the #1 Workplace for Millennials by FORTUNE Magazine. With this recognition came a lot of media attention, which we saw as an opportunity – an opportunity to affect change. The question was, what kind of change? Looking internally, we saw that the veterans at Power were disproportionally successful. Externally, however, veterans were struggling to find jobs and often portrayed as broken in a variety of ways. Recognizing this dichotomy led to the Power Veterans Initiative. We saw firsthand that veterans are passionate, driven, and hard working. Yet the national narrative didn’t align with this experience. With our ever-expanding footprint, we knew we could change that.

  1. What is the goal for Power’s Veterans Initiative?

First and most importantly, we want to hire hundreds of military veterans and military spouses. For us this is not charity – this is the right business decision. Veterans are successful here; we want more of them. Yet it’s not enough to just get them in the door. Once they’re here, our goal is to provide them with the infrastructure and support needed for them to have thriving careers.

By hiring veterans and providing a real opportunity for a fulfilling career, we will achieve our second goal: create a model for other companies to replicate. While the day-to-day tasks of every company vary, they all need dedicated, purpose-driven employees. The success of our Veterans Initiative will provide them with a blueprint for how to effectively hire and develop veterans within their walls.

Lastly, by establishing a true connection with the veteran community, we will become thought leaders in this space. This will enable us to change the national dialogue surrounding veterans from one where they’re seen as liabilities to one where they’re seen as assets.

  1. How is the “refer a veteran” program structured?           

At Power, over 50% of our hires come from referrals. Therefore, when we launched our Veterans Initiative, we knew referrals would play a big role. The first aspect of our “refer a veteran” program is run in much the same way as all of our referrals: employees refer a veteran by entering them into our system, which then triggers our talent acquisition team to schedule a phone interview. If the referral is hired in this way, after 90 days of employment the employee who referred them receives a $2,000 bonus, just like they would for a civilian referral. Where this program differs, however, is that after those 90 days of employment, the veteran or veteran spouse also receives a bonus, which is $3,000. It’s our way of letting them know that we appreciate them and we’re committed to them.

  1. Are community events organized for recruitment?

Rather than create our own events, we often partner with leading Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) on their events. We’ve found that this provides a stronger link to veterans and allows us to expand on our public-private partnerships. By participating in their career fairs or 5k runs, we’re able to introduce Power to a large number of veterans.

  1. As part of your mission, we understand you thrive to help create a stronger community by building community gyms and service projects. How are these selected? Can you provide a little more information on this?

Power has 12, soon to be 14, offices across the country. We knew that for this to be successful, we needed all of our offices to be involved – not just our headquarters. That’s why in each office we established a Tiger Team. These teams are made up of 5-8 trusted military and civilian employees who are charged with spearheading the Veterans Initiative in their region. Each Team has formed connections and partnerships with local VSOs that have led to joint 5k runs, community service events, and dinners. All of these activities bridge the gap between veterans and civilians, and hopefully help ease the transition of returning veterans. For us it’s not about saying we’re going to hire a certain number of veterans – it’s about helping the whole person. By partnering with organizations within our communities, we’re establishing relationships that let veterans know they haven’t been forgotten.

  1. What do you think this initiative has brought back to the company? How has it helped develop or grow Power Home Remodeling? 

The veterans already within our walls are growing within their roles, becoming leaders, and developing the people around them. They’re bringing a unique perspective to their work, which makes our organization stronger. This year we will hire just over 200 members of the veteran community, which means they will represent over 10% of our workforce. Soon all of our employees will be working with, and learning from, veterans. The effect we’ve seen on a small scale will then ripple throughout the company, creating a more diverse culture and more dynamic organization.

Power Vetereans Initiative Home Page: https://powerhrg.com/pvi/


Feature Story: Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

The most anticipated museum opening Miami has experienced since Perez Art Museum is finally happening.

Locals will swarm the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science on May 8th, 2017 for it’s grand opening. Frost Science will be one of the most dynamic and sophisticated science museums around the globe. The new museum goes beyond the unique architecture; it is the embodiment of curiosity, investigation and an enthusiasm for knowledge that will inspire generations to come. After many, many delays and setbacks, we are all eager for the doors to finally open!

 

Museum Overview

The new Science Museum boasts a 3-tiered aquarium featuring a 31’ oculus at the lowest level for a new perspective into the deep sea. Guests can also enjoy the brand new planetarium featuring one of only thirteen 8K projectors in the world, plus LaserShows and many exhibitions which will incite adults and children alike. 

 

Exhibitions to expect for the grand opening:

  • Feathers to the Stars– the astounding history of flight, from feathered dinosaurs to spaceships 
  • MeLaB– explore the ways your body and mind work together
  • River of Grass– explore one of the most precious ecosystems on the planet, the Everglades

Our favorite part about the new Science Museum? Being able to host an event beneath the 31’ oculus! Who will be the first to host an event at this exquisite museum? 

 

Stay up-to-date with the grand opening by signing up in the newsletter or by becoming a member today. 


Accounting: How it affects Your Event

Most people don’t realize the importance of the accounting department in keeping a business operating without hitches and delays.

That’s probably because accountants oversee many of the back-office functions in a business — as opposed to sales and the event planning.  Your event starts with customer service and a sales pitch, but without an outlined budget you cannot successfully accomplish the task. 

It’s about Team Work

Accounting is not just about the basics of providing an invoice, receiving a payment, or dealing with various vendors at one time, or posting the expenses, and reconciling an event.  It is about going the extra mile to work with your event planning team in making sure that the customer is treated professionally, and with the upmost immediate service.  When the two departments work collaboratively and in sync a few things happen:

  • The professionalism: The accounting department keeps presenting the professionalism that your Sales, and Event Directors are accomplishing which is an extension of the first impression they portray.
  • Budget: By working with the event planners, you help to balance their budget, which provides accurate job profitability, which gives the customer the tools they need to allocate their funds accordingly.
  • Expenditures: vendor resources are allocated efficiently
  • Forecasting: Cost and profitability for future events is now outlined

 

Objective

At the end of the day all you want is a customer who has had a memorable event and enjoys working with your team leading to repeated business and customer loyalty.


Cashless payments at your next event

Lets facilitate the transaction process at your next event.

We all know that most venue’s do not have a payment system and although there are a couple technological advances that have made this better for us, there has yet to be one that really makes a difference on two big points, our sales and attendees.  With CONNECT&GO’s recently debuted payment system we can increase our sales while making things less complicated for the consumer.

How is this achieved?

  • CONNECT&GO ships customized smartphones along with a video tutorial to clients that allow them to process payments from credit cards, debit cards, and R.F.I.D. tags.
  • Clients use a self-service Web portal to generate the menu of items they will be selling at the event, for example, beverages, food and swag items.

How it works?

  • The wireless payment system works via Wi-Fi or a cellular network allowing those who are managing the phones to move throughout the event without being bound to an outlet.

How attendees pay?

  • To make a purchase, guests simply tap their credit or debit card or R.F.I.D tag to the smartphone.

What are the key benefits?

  • Increased sales
  • Shorter Lines
  • Zero Theft
  • Inventory Control
  • Data Reports
  • Value for your sponsors
  • The ability to combine multiple items into one transaction.

To get more information about this payment module and use at your next event, contact us today!


Heads Up!

The advance on technology has taken the event industry by storm.

Just think about this – an event attendee even before the event has started has already used their phone or tablet to research the event, book their flight and accommodations, rent an car, map a route, create shopping and packing list and coordinate schedules with colleagues.

As event experience designers we have to keep up with the latest technologies and trends even though many will say it is impossible for attendees to stop looking at their twitter feed or checking their email during a general session.

We need to start looking beyond social media and add more to the onsite experience.  

Here are some examples of how to do so.

It may be impossible for some to completely stop using their smartphones, which is we believe we have to start implementing more of the “heads up” technology. For example, we can present large-scale interactive games where smartphones are the controllers or live social media walls where participants can see their picture and message as part of a larger group. We can have broadcasting polls and crowd streaming content on overhead screens (again, where smartphones only supply the content). Or even simply more dynamic video, audio and audience interaction (using an app like Crowd Mics to turn everyone’s cellphone into a microphone).

Furthermore, new ways of allowing attendees to interact with technology do exist; such as gesture control, made mainstream with the release of the Kinect game console, when millions of homes were introduced to the ability of controlling action on the screen with just body movements. There is also facial recognition, a lot can be told by one’s appearance, especially our face. Everything from expressions to the direction our face is pointed at reveals our mood, personality, and intentions. Which allows us event managers to quantify metrics that were once hard to measure, such as guest’s experiences and moods. As the technology for facial recognition continues to improve, the necessity for crowd surveys may decrease accordingly.

In conclusion, event managers need to start thinking of “heads up” tech solutions.

Basically, think of anything that will get people to look up and look at all the content you have worked so hard to create and not their disruptive glowing screens.