When the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Meeting Professionals International asked me to speak about my success story at a meeting in May, it caused me to think about how I had just experienced two very successful months at Hinton & Grusich. This was during a grim economic downturn that had devastated the hospitality industry, yet our office was busier than ever.
Friends and colleagues want to know: How did I manage to stay on top during such trying times? Not only was the economy in a rut, but September 11 had hit us all so hard and we were going through a difficult grieving process. How do you pull yourself out of that?
On one level the answer is simple: I forced myself to remain positive and worked harder than ever. Knowing the state of the industry and that our company was in for a challenge, I was constantly on the phone talking to new clients and catching up with old clients.
If you want to create success in any economic climate, here are the things I think are indispensible:
Don't lose your momentum. Keep moving forward even when part of you wants to bury your head under the covers and hide from the world.
Maintain a strong level of energy and enthusiasm.
Be an active member of your community and support your professional organizations. I'll be serving my second year on the board of directors of my local MPI chapter, where as director of community relations I am responsible for organizing such events as Kids' Café, Chef's Tables, golf tournaments, and 5K runs — which raise money for such organizations as Food Bank of the Rockies and the Children's Rescue Foundation. These activities are very rewarding for me, and they create strong bonds with my personal and professional communities.
Laugh with your colleagues and clients; never lose your sense of humor.
Don't neglect your family. Our industry goes nonstop, but I've learned to spend more time with my husband and family by controlling the hours I spend at work and trying not to take work home with me — although most of us in this industry know this is sometimes a losing battle!
Be a problem-solver. I thrive on helping people find a great location for their meetings, and knowing that their boss will applaud them for it.
Maintain your integrity. My clients know I won't recommend one of my properties to them unless I believe it would be a good fit for their program.
Take the time to listen. Listening establishes trust, and people want to work with people they trust. I've known some of my clients for years before they actually started working with me. And these days, people want to talk more than ever, not just about work but about their feelings and their life.
Have fun. Bill Grusich, now our company's president, once said to me, “When the day comes that you're not having fun, talk to me.” It hasn't happened yet.
Julie Stovroff is regional VP of sales for Hinton & Grusich, national sales office for hotels, resorts, and CVBs worldwide. E-mail Stov firstname.lastname@example.org.