WHEN she gave the inspirational talk at the launch of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association’s (HSMA) 2nd Virtus Awards, Peggy Angeles spoke from the heart and generously shared her story with budding marketers of the industry.
An institution in the realm of tourism and among hoteliers, Angeles was included in US’ Travel Agents Magazine roster of the “Most Powerful Women in Travel” in 1998 and 1999. She was also awarded a Mabuhay Gold Hotelier Award—considered the “Oscar’s of the hotel industry”—in 2009.
Back in 1994, Angeles represented the hotel industry as a board member of the government’s Philippine Convention and Visitors Corp., a unit under the Department of Tourism, tasked to promote the Philippines as an ideal tourism, convention, and travel destination.
Presently, she is senior vice president for operations of SM Hotels and Conventions Corp. (SMHCC), under mall-based property giant SM Prime Holdings Corp.
At SMHCC, the multi-awarded lady is involved in every aspect of the business—from the review of master plans for project developments to actual operations of the establishments.
SMHCC owns and manages Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay; Pico Sands Hotel and Pico De Loro Beach and Country Club in Nasugbu, Batangas; Radisson Blue in Cebu; Park Inn Hotel in Davao and Clark; and the soon-to-be opened luxury hotel Conrad Manila near Manila Bay, in partnership with global hospitality firm Hilton Worldwide.
Angeles’ responsibility also covers the SMX Convention Centers in SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, SM Aura in BGC, SM Davao and Bacolod, and the Trade Halls of Mega Mall at the Ortigas Center and in SM Cebu.
“I wear two hats—as management company head and as the owners’ representative, when dealing with the Carlson and Hilton-managed properties,” Angeles said. “I am very privileged to work side-by-side with the members of the Sy family and deliver to them the bottom line of our business unit.”
Her tasks may seem daunting, but for Angeles, they are a source of pride and fulfilment.
She explained, “When I sit back and think how I managed all these, I can only attribute [my achievements]to the foundation I had in my younger days,” she told an audience that included a good number of millenials in the hotel industry.
“I went through most of the disciplines in sales and marketing at an early stage. I always wanted to learn and be good at the tasks and responsibilities I was given because I was ambitious and at the same time persistent,” Angeles continued.
Providing a flash back of her younger years, Angeles graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Administration from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
Her first job was a reservations agent for the Hyatt Terraces in Baguio City.
“Reservations was always perceived as just a booking center that took orders from customers—in short, order-takers,” she said. “However, at that early stage I was unconsciously performing a ‘selling job.’ Depending on the guests’ requirements, I had the chance to offer different room types.”
After only seven months with reservations, Hyatt offered her a sales executive post. She describes sales and marketing as the “love of her life,” as far as the hospitality industry is concerned.
“From the ground level of the hotel, I moved to the top floor, where the sales department was located,” she recounted, adding she was clueless how her career in hospitality was taking shape.
“The segment assigned to me was tours and travel,” she continued. “And guess who were my first set of clients to call on? Sarkies and Delia Carapiet of Sarkies Tours, Patrick Blum of BH, Lito Jones of Acme Travel, Bobby Dee of Pan Pacific Travel, Mary Sia Tan, Danny Lim, to name a few. I asked myself: How would I break the ice with these seasoned tour operators? I was only a few months out from college! I thought, maybe, I should ask their secretaries their interests!
As she knew nothing about travel and tours, she wisely learned from her seniors. Soon enough, she became part of a group sent to John Clements for basic selling skills training and objection-handling.
Initially using the “canned presentations” of the time, Angeles’ creativity broke through, as she recalled, “But then I thought different clients have different needs. That was when I started to write my own scripts and cue cards, so I wouldn’t forget or miss out on asking what needs to be asked, before offering anything.”
Another take-away she remembers was the list of possible objections she would face. She fondly recalls one rehearsed line, “When you say the hotel is too far, are you talking about the distance, the travelling time, or accessibility?”
“When my Hyatt friends and I reminisce those times, we would laugh so hard,” she recounted.
All in all, Angeles’ 10 years in Hyatt molded her into a well-rounded hotel operator, crossing over from reservations to sales, to catering director, and to rooms director. It was also where she learned the ropes of hotel marketing in various parts of the country.
“I moved up the ladder fairly quickly,” she continued. “And in between I even had two daughters!”
By 1997, Angeles moved to what was then the very new Edsa Shangri-La Manila as vice president for sales and marketing. There, her hotel marketing horizon “widened” quite literally.
“I was given various regions to oversee, which included operating hotels [those in the pre-opening stages], re-branding, and even de-flagging,” she related. “My travels brought me around the globe, clocking up hundreds of thousands of miles that at one point, I was a Diamond member for Cathay Pacific, at the same time, Gold for Krisflyer, and even an elevated level for Delta.
“I had the pleasure of being involved with hotels outside Asia—Paris, Istanbul, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Fiji, and Australia. In Asia, aside from the Asean countries, my favorite was the Shangri-La opening of Tokyo, while Boracay was one of my more challenging openings.”
Angeles at the time lived in Bangkok, Singapore, and Hong Kong—basically wherever her assignments took her. Her vast experience with Shangri-La International Hotel Management spanned 24 years, until she felt it was time to move on and joined SMHCC.
As she capped her inspirational speech, she said: “Putting HSMA’s Virtus Awards objectives into perspective—of leading with a vision, harnessing creativity and innovation to move brands forward, delivering enhanced benefits to clients, contributing to the robust bottom line of the properties, and building mentoring relationships for next-generation leaders—I believe I have exemplified all these in my journey.”
She ended by telling the next generation of hotel marketers that they too can do what she did with hard work and dedication to their profession.