As someone who learned the meetings and events industry from the lofty skyscrapers of Las Vegas, Danielle Babilino, senior vice president of global sales and marketing at Hard Rock International, is a self-proclaimed hotel brat. And we can’t blame her, with several industry titans surrounding her career success including Fountainebleu Miami Beach and Wynn Las Vegas.
A 13-year run at Bally’s, where Babilino started in hotel sales, marked her intro into the hospitality industry. Babilino then moved to the luxurious Mandalay Resort Group to help with pre-openings, including the original Mandalay tower and 1.5 million-sq.-ft. convention center, followed by the renowned hotel. MGM now owns Mandalay.
Most recently, Babilino took on her current role with Hard Rock International. She manages all hotel sales and marketing incentives, sales training, customer events, sales program implementation and the recruitment and retention of sales professionals. Here, Babilino lets us in on her career transition and what’s in store for Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos around the world.
Tell me a little about you and your recent position change to senior vice president of global sales and marketing for Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos?
I really enjoy building teams from the ground up and putting all the processes in place to run a hotel and destination marketing organization. [In my new position,] there is not a boring moment to say the least. My responsibility is to build up the global sales organizations of the company, where we presently have 29 hotels. I am also responsible for managing the properties that are in the pipeline to open over the course of the next couple years. Next year, we have six hotels opening. There are three that are the licensed model: Maldives; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; and London in Q1 of 2019. As we roll later into the year, we open three of our managed properties: Madrid, Budapest, Hungary and New Orleans.
What is Hard Rock doing to attract more meetings and events?
We are working at the global level to really define more branded programs for our MICE customers. From a meetings’ perspective, there is not a lot of meeting space available. However, New Orleans has about 350 rooms and has 10,000 square feet of space and it’s right on the fringe of the French quarter, not too far from the convention center. Each one of the projects has taken into consideration the destination in which they are in. And based on what they are offering, the property will be segmented. What we are trying to do at the global level is to take some of our wonderful programs that we have utilized, from a transient perspective and pull them into MICE-branded programs.