Updated: Oct 16, 2019
This July, Michael Dominguez embarked on his next great adventure, taking the helm of Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI). The move comes after serving as Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer for MGM International for seven years. And despite his full plate learning about each of ALHI's exquisite 250+ properties worldwide, he found a pocket of time to connect with Kinsley for 5 Questions with a Pro:
1. What are you most excited about as you move from the MGM sales team and their hotels/resorts to the ALHI sales team and the 250+ hotels/resorts that they represent?
The ability to lead such a well-recognized organization with such a diverse and unique portfolio of member hotels is incredibly exciting. In a very short time, I have been able to experience and visit many of these distinctive hotels that are as unique as the destinations where they exist. Further, the passion of my team around cultivating a rich experience for others is really special and focused.
2. How do you lead and motivate your team through changing economic times when travel to luxury hotels may be in flux?
I think this question is very interesting as I always see the world "in flux." In my opinion, it is so necessary today to understand that we must 'disrupt' or 'be disrupted'. My goal is to lead by ensuring my team is always looking at how we need to change our business models and approach to an ever-changing world. Fortunately, I have found the team to be highly motivated and passionate about the members and clients they serve.
3. Putting yourself in a “meeting planner’s shoes”, what are three things meeting planners should be sure hotel sales teams cover during a sales call? (Items that may not be top-of-mind?)
It is important to know every property is, candidly, its own small universe. It would be great to know what has been the most successful program(s) held at that hotel. And more importantly, why they were so successful? There are unique elements and attributes that can be drawn from other experiences and events.
I would also want want to know about the F&B expertise in the Banquet area. What is the background of the Banquet Sous Chef and what is their 'go-to' cuisine? Everyone has a 'go-to' that they just nail, it would be great to know how that might translate for your group.
It is important to know today, more than ever, that experience is king. What does the hotel do or what have they done to elevate the group experience? And what small touches would they propose throughout the event that are creative and would make your event stand out.
4. With the European economy beginning to slow down, what are you sharing with your team and ALHI member hotels with regards to the North American economy and what it means for their future, both short term and long term?
Our economic world currently is “certainly uncertain!” It is complex with a large mix of data points: the European slowdown, the trade war, China’s GDP being the slowest in 27 years, Brexit, instability in Latin America – it is a lot to consume. The US economy has been resilient so far, as all of this has been going on for quite some time.
It is important to remember that a “slow down” is a slow down in the rate of growth. We tend to forget that it is “growth” still, just at a slower pace.
We find booking windows getting shorter again as nobody likes uncertainty. I am challenged, as the media gets us so nervous, that sometimes these things become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We still have strong consumer confidence, unemployment at record lows, cheap cost of money and extremely low inflation.
These headwinds could become tailwinds if settled – Brexit being the first one of the dominoes to fall.
5. If you could give one piece of advice (maybe 2) to Mike Dominguez in 1984, when he first started in the hospitality industry, what would it be?
First, I would remind myself that what you are really worried about at that time, really just doesn’t matter. The things in life that are truly challenges are things that will completely T-bone us when we least expect. John Lennon said it best, “life is what happens while we are busy making other plans”!
Ask questions, learn and learn some more. When I look back, I knew I had a lot to learn but when you reflect…I really didn’t know much at all!