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Up Close with Preferred Hotels President, Lindsey UeberrothJuly 6, 2010 By: Ruthanne Terrero
Lindsey, who most recently served as executive vice president, responsible for global brand strategy, internal technology, and all aspects of brand performance within Preferred Hotel Group, takes on the role most recently occupied by her mother, Gail Ueberroth, who will continue her role as chief marketing officer and assume the title of vice-chair, along with her husband, John Ueberroth, who is also CEO of Preferred.
With the promotion, Lindsey Ueberroth now moves from Newport Beach, CA to Chicago. “Newport Beach is our largest office and a lot of our operations are out there, but I need to be little bit closer to the financial side of things,” Ueberroth told us, noting that while the Windy City will be her base, she will be traveling quite a bit over the coming months. Preferred currently has more than 800 hotels in more than 70 countries under five brands: Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Preferred Boutique, Summit Hotels & Resorts, Sterling Hotels and Historic Hotels of America.
One of Ueberroth’s goals will be to add to these portfolio in key geographic areas.
“There are a lot of markets and cities that we are not in that we want to be in,” Ueberroth told us, citing Scandinavia and the Middle East as two targeted regions. Russia is a country whose hotel development is being closely eyed by Preferred, and then there is San Francisco, “which is a market we’ve got very few hotels in,” she says.
Another key strategy for Ueberroth is a renewed focus on quality assurance. While Preferred has always had a quality assurance program in place, “the past two years were a little more challenging for hotels and so things were a little more lax,” she said. “So this is about a renewed focus on our quality assurance program and the quality of hotels in our brand.”
The result? “There will be some shifting of hotels within our brands,” she said, adding that some hotels may even be moved out of the Preferred system. To assist with implementing this strategy, a new firm will now be handling hotel inspections for Preferred.
The hotel company is focusing on other partnerships, as well, On the technology front, Preferred in May migrated all of its 800 hotels from the Pegasus to Sabre GDS. “That was a big undertaking and it actually went incredibly well,” says Ueberroth, noting that, since the move, there has been an uptick in the number of hotel reservations.
A third key area of focus for the new president of Preferred will be the financial success of the company’s hotels. For that reason, Preferred this year will launch a corporately funded brand advertising campaign that’s just focused on its brands.
“I really want to focus on having a better consumer awareness of our individual brands,” she says. “I think our hotels know we already do that, but I think we need to have a heightened sense of what the consumers see and a true clarification of our brands,” she says.
And while it will continue to open new sales offices across the world (there are currently 29), Preferred will re-examine its sales strategy by “really analyzing where the business coming from,” says Ueberroth. “So our sales structure is going to change a bit to analyze trends and realign people to where the business is really coming from. That should hopefully drive a lot more financial success to the hotels, especially after two bad years.”
While Lindsey Ueberroth is now clearly running the show at Preferred, she emphasizes that her parents, who now live in Paris, are still very much involved. “They really felt that they wanted to spend most time overseas because are really a global company and we really want to have that global perspective,” she said.