Washington, D.C.–based Associated Luxury Hotels International has acquired Chicago-based Hinton + Grusich, combining two long-established hotel representation companies that serve the site selection needs of meeting, incentives, convention, and exhibition planners. As of January 1, 2011, the Hinton + Grusich team became part of ALHI, expanding the sales network for the 130 four- and five-diamond properties in ALHI’s membership portfolio.

“It’s a big day for us,” says David Gabri, president and CEO of ALHI. “Both companies started in 1986—ALHI in Washington, D.C., and H+G in Chicago—we are both 25 years old this year, and we are very excited to be together now, setting the framework for the next 25 years of serving our clients.”

The primary driver of ALHI’s acquisition of H+G, says Gabri, was “to bring these two salesforces together, and put us in alignment to serve the marketplace” after having been “respectful competitors” for the past 25 years. Clients who have a sales contact from ALHI and one from H+G, says Gabri, will work with the blended salesforce to determine the best “single point of contact” going forward. “Hopefully we will be saving them time and energy while maintaining the same relationships they are used to,” he adds.

“The meetings, incentives, and conventions business continues to be relationship-driven rather than transaction-based,” Gabri says. “Both of these companies have deep-rooted relationships.”

He also notes that both ALHI and H+G were launched as dues-based organizations, with their member hotels funding the site research and booking services performed by the national sales representatives on behalf of their clients, who do not pay for those services.

As for H+G’s former portfolio of more than 120 hotels, Gabri says some of them will be invited to join the ALHI portfolio. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, through discussions with the directors of marketing and general managers at H+G hotels that meet the ALHI criteria for quality and a focus on meetings, conventions, and incentive travel. Some of these talks already are under way, he said.

Leadership Announcements
Kevin Hinton has been named executive vice president of ALHI; Bill Grusich, CMP, senior vice president; and Kathy Kozminske, vice president. The majority of the staff of H+G are being added to the ALHI national sales organization.

David Gabri remains president and CEO of ALHI, which will expand its Chicago office to accommodate employees in the H+G Chicago office, which is closing as of January 31. Stacy Lucherini, regional vice president for ALHI Midwest and Canada, will remain in leadership of those regions. Chris Riccardi and Ashly Balding will lead the ALHI West and Southeast regions, and ALHI’s senior executive team of Don Macumber and Mike Coutu remains unchanged.

“We’re very proud to be joining together with such an outstanding and respected organization as ALHI,” said Kevin Hinton in a press release. “Rather than compete for the same business, we are now able to combine efforts and work together to better serve the business community and the hotel and resort members of ALHI. We are all excited.”

With the addition of Hinton + Grusich, ALHI’s national sales professionals staff expands to nearly 50 representatives in 16 offices, including Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky.; New York City; North Carolina; Orange County, Calif.; Orlando; Philadelphia; Richmond, Va.; San Diego; and Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Find the sales contacts in your area at the ALHI Web site.