At its 2008 Annual Conference this month,
the Preferred Hotel Group called on its members to “Aspire”, communicating a message of strength and
confidence borne out by the company’s 40-year record of growth and innovation. Member hoteliers, PHG executives and alliance partners were
among the 250 attendees who gathered 1-5 November at San Diego’s Grand Del Mar resort to network, learn and share strategies for success in a
shrinking travel market.
It was an opportunity for Chairman and CEO John Ueberroth to outline the measures being taken
by the company, which marks its 40th year with membership figures nearing 700 hotels and resorts in
more than 75 countries, to create
opportunities in today’s challenging economic climate.
Key among these strategies is an expanded worldwide presence that includes new, senior-level Directors of Sales in Sao Paulo, Mexico City,
Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney and New Delhi, with more executive appointments coming soon in New York and Europe. A series of short-term
campaigns for I Prefer, the company’s guest benefit program, are in place to generate reservations among Preferred’s most loyal travelers,
while more customer events for 2009 promise to provide member hotels with even greater branded exposure. The company also recently
launched new, user-friendly brand web sites to increase online revenues with additional sites slated for early 2009.
This year’s conference brought in more guest speakers and panel discussions, including the first-ever travel agent panel. Headlining the guest
speakers was Howard Putnam, former Southwest Airlines CEO, who presented “high-flying strategies for bottom line improvement.” Ubercool
Founder Michael Tchong discussed the evolving luxury consumer, tourism expert Dr. Lalia Rach led attendees through global travel trends, and
Tom Asacker, author of A Clear Eye for Branding, exposed “the brand identity delusion.”
For the third year, Preferred Hotel Group’s GIFTTS program gave conference attendees a chance to celebrate “luxury with purpose” as they
honored member hotels and partners who have made a positive impact through significant philanthropic, community and environmental
endeavors. Presiding over the GIFTTS Recognition Ceremony were Brooke Ueberroth, Vice President, Communications, and Sarah Clark, Vice
The highlight of this year’s ceremony was the naming of the new Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito, Calif., as Hotel of the Year. Cavallo Point
Lodge was singled out for its extraordinary efforts across all three areas of the GIFTTS Program from environmental design features, to its leadership role with The Institute at the Golden Gate and other environmental organizations, to its passionate support of
The Good Night Foundation, which raises funds for health, education, the environment and the eradication of poverty on both a local and global
Furthermore, Ueberroth and Clark bestowed Pineapple Awards on member hotels who stood out in each of GIFTTS’ three categories. Earning
Pineapple Awards in the area of Philanthropy were Eden City Hotels, the Hard Rock Chicago and The Charles Hotel. Environmental winners
were Sundance Resort, the Mauna Lani Resort and Hotel New Otani “The Main.” In the Community category, winners were Dreams Cancun
Resort & Spa, The Saint Paul Hotel and Peabody Hotels. To demonstrate support, The Ueberroth Family Foundation will donate $5,000 to each
of the Pineapple Award winners to be used to further their efforts.
Among the many innovative programs in the spotlight were Hard Rock Chicago’s Denim for Donations, which allows employees to wear jeans
to work on Fridays in exchange for a $5 charitable donation; The Charles Hotel and its executive chef Peter Davis, whose annual Big Pig Gig
raised more than $260,000 this year alone for sustainable farming; and the Mauna Lani Resort,
one of the largest generators of solar electric power
among luxury resorts worldwide, whose eco-distinctions include turning carbon offset into a rewarding resort experience by creating
opportunities for guests to plant a native tree during their stay.
The ceremony also applauded the 61 hotels that participated in GIFTTS’ consumer program, The Giving Room, through which participants
pledge to set aside 10% of the three-month revenue of one designated room or suite to the hotel’s charity of choice. Donations were matched by
the Ueberroth Family Foundation. In its second year, The Giving Room succeeded in tripling participation and doubling monies raised to more
than $40,000, benefiting worthy organizations around the world such as The Hunger Project, the Spanish Association Against Cancer,
Guangzhou Foundation for Disabled Persons, and Intermon Oxfam.
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