If you think GCQ, ECQ, MECQ and even EWANQ was tough for us– just imagine how 10x difficult it was for the local hotel industry.
“Difficult indeed it is dear comrades as we continue to fight it out on the 15th month of the perilous pandemic. The more we creep into new days the more things seem the same. We vacillate to and fro over the various conditions of GCQ, ECQ, MECQ, even sometimes EWANQ to guide us whether to open up for the economy or keep locked down for health and safety.”
“Through it all, the members of HSMA persevere and chase dwindling shares amidst the challenges of higher operating costs to abide by required protocols and diminished revenues due to restricted markets. HSMA remained bullish and positive throughout 2020 and initiated projects that kept many properties afloat and retained staff. For their valiant efforts, it is but fitting that these courageous hoteliers in sales and marketing be recognized,” Rose H. Libongco Chair, Virtus Awards.
When it comes to exhibiting resiliency, perhaps no other industry has done such an admirable job of doing so as the tourism and hospitality sector. Hotels and resorts, in particular, have pushed their creativity to their limits to still cater to their guests’ needs—and for the second year in a row, the Hotel Sales and Marketing (HSMA) Philippines are recognizing these unique efforts through the much-awaited and prestigious Virtus Awards.
Launched seven years ago, the Virtus Awards, like last year, will give special awards to recognize unique anti-Covid-19 efforts by HSMA’s members. Dubbed S.N.A.P. (Survive, Neutralize, Adapt Programs), these individual and group awards will go to member-properties that were able to quickly pivot and address the evolving challenges brought about by the pandemic—and emerge stronger.
“For the second year now, the Virtus Awards will give due recognition to hotel sales and marketing professionals who make it a point to think out of the box and do what they can to contribute to the growth of their properties amid these most challenging times,” says Benjie Martinez, HSMA vice president. “Now more than ever, we at the HSMA also want to continue motivating our colleagues through these awards.”
At last year’s Virtus event, the Champions of Resilience Awards were divided into three categories:Individual, which was won by Ma. Elena Cecille M. Daugdaug, Sales Manager of Quest Hotel and Conference Center Cebu; Team, won by Luxent Hotel under the leadership of General Manager Melanie Pagkalinawan, and Marketing Communications Campaign, won by Chroma Hospitality, led by Carmela Bocanegra, Vice President for Sales and Marketing.
The HSMA chose Daugdug out of seven other nominees because of her remarkable dedication, perseverance, business agility, and incredible resilience during the pandemic. As for Luxent Hotel, their win was the result of everyone’s holistic approach toward mitigating the effects of the pandemic; and for Chroma Hospitality, their marketing campaign titled “Safely Apart, Closer at Heart,” won for being the most comprehensive and well-planned campaign among four others, and for its clear messaging. It was also voted the “most digi-centric,” shifting strategies and priorities in the online sphere not only to thrive amid today’s unusual challenges but also to bounce back stronger.
For this year, the S.N.A.P. Awards will highlight the best and most creative virus mitigation practices, recovery strategies, business concepts, digital transformation initiatives, audience-specific communications, talent development, workplace safety and wellness, sustainability efforts, and any other related programs. “While difficult, indeed, it is to continue to fight to thrive amid this perilous pandemic, the members of HSMA persevere and chase dwindling shares amidst the challenges of higher operating costs to abide by required protocols and diminished revenues due to restricted markets,” says Rose Libongco, Virtus Awards chair. “HSMA remained bullish and positive throughout 2020 and initiated projects that kept many properties afloat—and retained staff. For their valiant efforts, it is fitting that these courageous hoteliers in sales and marketing be recognized.”
As is tradition, the Virtus Awards will still include its four original categories (three individual honors and one team award) that cover achievements in terms of realized sales targets, systems improved, client satisfaction, property facilities/amenities enhanced, and other value-adding outcomes. However, the individual categories (Outstanding Sales and Marketing Associate; Outstanding Sales and Marketing Manager; Outstanding Sales and Marketing Leader), will also cover initiatives/projects/endeavors that reflect innovative strategies and inspiring stories of resilience and creativity of hotel sales and marketing professionals in mitigating the economic impact to their properties brought about by the global health crisis. On the other hand, the team category (Outstanding Marketing Campaign of the Year) will cover marketing campaigns that engage the public/customers to effectively reconnect with their favorite travel haunts pre-pandemic.
“As restrictions ease up and people get vaccinated, we see glimmers of light for our tourism industry. We expect to see travel and tourism be revitalized and be a major source of employment again in the country. Hotels and resorts will be in the forefront of this revival,” Libongco says. “After the limitations posed by this crisis, people are eager for the social and emotional connection denied them by quarantine and isolation. Hotels and resorts are poised to fulfill that need with the staples of leisure, refuge, recreation offered and the focus on well being, relaxation and comfort.”
With 140 active members, HSMA, through the Virtus Awards, has been propelled into a whole new level of advocacy and raised the bar when it comes to motivating and encouraging excellence among the Philippines’ best tourism and hospitality players. Throughout this very trying period, they have also found valuable partners in the Department of Tourism (DoT) and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), as these two government agencies have been nothing short of relentless in their goal to help tourism and hospitality companies of all sizes recover from Covid-19’s huge economic impact.
“The DoT, through Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and the TPB, through Chief Operating Officer Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones, have helped us immensely in ensuring that our connection to our customers remain the same, despite Covid-19. For that, we highly value our continued partnership with them,” says Margie Munsayac, HSMA board chair.
The deadline for submission of entries for the Virtus Awards is on August 31. Judging, which will be done online, takes place on September 25, while the awarding itself will be on October 26. For more information on Virtus Awards 2021, visit hsma.org.ph/virtus-awards.com or email [email protected]. Follow HSMA’s Facebook page at @HSMAPH for updates.