The Forbes Ballroom of Conrad Manila was the venue of two major hotel industry events – the 5th annual Virtus Awards and the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association’s 40th founding anniversary.
This year’s Virtus winners were Rigi Kent V. Acapulco of Bellevue Manila and Ian Bencio David of Conrad Manila for Outstanding Sales and Marketing Associate; Marvia Jelizha Villarin of Bellevue Hotels and Resorts for Outstanding Sales and Marketing Manager; and Evangeline A. Imperial of Solaire Resorts Manila for Outstanding Sales and Marketing Leader.
The Taal Vista Hotel and Crimson Hotel Filinvest Manila shared top honors for Best Marketing Campaign of 2019.
The announcement of Virtus nominees and eventual winners was the culmination of an extensive six-month nomination and vetting process spearheaded by a committee comprised of Virtus Awards chairperson Rose H. Libongco and the sitting HSMA board comprised of HSMA chair Margie Munsayac of Bluewater Resorts, President Christine Ann Ibarreta of Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila, Vice President Benjie Martinez of Bayleaf Hotels, Treasurer Carmela Bocanegra of Chroma Hospitality, Secretary Cristina Carreon of Marriott Hotel Manila, Memberships Director Tet Romualdo of Linden Suites, Education Director Michael Jaey Albaña of Conrad Hotel Manila, Programs Director Amie Villena of Bellevue Resorts Bohol, and PR Director Pearl Maclang of Marco Polo Davao.
The Virtus Awards was launched 5 years ago and was received with much excitement by Manila’s hotel and travel circles. It has since become a prestigious recognition of young sales and marketing professionals in the country and has gained the support of major hospitality players from the national and local governments, investors, and private business enterprises.
This year’s immensely competitive group of nominees came from Bayleaf Intramuros, Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort, City of Dreams Manila, Crimson Resort & Spa Boracay, Diamond Hotel Philippines, Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila, Hotel 101 Manila, Hotel Jen Manila by Shangri-La, Joy Nostalg Hotels & Suites Manila, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Lima Park Hotel, Midas Hotel & Casino, Oxford Suites Manila, Quest Hotel & Conference Center Cebu, SEDA Hotel Abreeza, and Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila
Forward at Forty
The award ceremony’s ruby color theme is inspired by HSMA’s 40th anniversary. It has been 40 years since Rose Libongco, then with the Inter-Continental Manila, and contemporaries Melvyn Cruz of Hyatt Hotels, Aurora Patricio Paredes of Manila Hilton, Michael Cuisia of Manila Hotel, and Peter Leitgeb of Mandarin Oriental Manila, formed an informal association of hospitality sales and marketing practitioners in Manila. “The need then was to put system and order in the fast-expanding hotel industry as a result of the Philippine hosting of the World Bank IMF Conference,” Libongco recalls.
Today, there are 110 members, with growing membership nationwide. “From only a handful of members in the late 70s to a country-wide organization with a say in national tourism industry policies today, we have so much to be thankful for,” adds current HSMA President Christine Ibarreta. “The HSMA today is still guided by the counsel and wisdom of our founding members. We are inspired by their example and we build on what they’ve achieved, particularly in the areas of government and private sector initiatives to grow and enhance the tourism and hospitality industry of our country.”
In her keynote speech, Secretary of Tourism Berna Romulo-Puyat thanked the HSMA for supporting the Department of Tourism’s programs. “We value the generosity and readiness of the HSMA Board to offer us counsel – drawing on their rich, invaluable collective marketing experience as we formulate projects and policies that work and have tangible, measurable results.”
The Virtus Awards 2019 is supported by Conrad Manila Hotel, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Golden Phoenix Manila, Philippine Airlines, and Turkish Airlines. Official spirits sponsors are Emperador Distillers and Destileria Limtuaco. Official media partners are BusinessMirror, Pilipino Mirror, Philippine Graphic, Cook, and Health&Fitness.