For 15 years, hotel industry vets Mark Benson, CMP, and Todd Mickey discussed dreams of someday running their own company. Then they made it happen. Below are a few sound bites from the two Orlando-based founders of Applied Meetings & Hospitality Solutions, which services the group meeting and incentive markets, as they talk entrepreneurship.
A majority of new businesses fail. To what do you attribute your success?
TM: We started this company with a dream, markers and a flip chart in the living room with my 1-year-old daughter screaming in the background. We stuck to our guns and weren’t afraid to challenge the hotels on our commission. A lot of people fail because they wait on the commission.
What advice do you have for those venturing out on their own?
MB: Excellence is not optional. That’s our company motto. [Excellence] doesn’t stop when the contract is signed. We form critical relationships with the production company, hotels, DMCs, etc., to make sure everyone stays on par through the pre-event process.
Where do you think your ambition comes from?
MB: It’s always been in our nature to be ambitious. It can get us pumped up, but if you get too loud or too ambitious you can’t see the forest for the trees. You need to involve others who look at things differently.
How do you balance business ethics with that drive?
MB: Transparency [is key]. Everything has to be above board. Be polite and have manners—it all matters.