Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Tufano

Phil Tufano

Partner & Chief Operating Officer, Kokua Hospitality

Phil Tufano had dedicated more than 30 years to mastering the art of adaptability in the hospitality industry. Overseeing a company with a portfolio of eight U.S. hotels of both independent and global hospitality brands, he leads Kokua Hospitality with the keyword of “open mindedness” front of mind. It's a philosophy that he has fine-tuned throughout his career in managing and repositioning hotels, which he instills in his operations teams at the Chicago-based company with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Jacksonville, FL. “Leadership is what distinguishes mediocre organizations from exceptional ones,” Mr. Tufano says. “People will mostly remember how you made them feel over what you said. Associates perform for managers they like, and for organizations they respect and believe in.” During his time at Kokua, Mr. Tufano has nearly quadrupled the team from an office of three people when he first came on board in 2007, while establishing Kokua as an industry-respected, third-party manager overseeing properties for Chartres Lodging Group, one of the largest hotel ownership groups in the United States. He notably oversaw the conversion of the 25-year-old Ocean Resort Hotel in Hawaii into the Hyatt Place Waikiki in 2011. In the three years that followed the reflagging, Kokua nearly tripled the net operating income to make the property one of the most successful Hyatt Place Hotels in the brand. Prior to joining Kokua, Mr. Tufano served in a senior management capacity at luxury resorts, as well as urban, convention, and all-suite properties during the 21 years he worked under the Global Hyatt Corporation umbrella. He made a significant impact on sales at properties across the United States and the Caribbean, as well as on the people around him by always bringing an enthusiasm and motivation that he fluently expresses. “In general, people want to do the right things, perform well, and be recognized so they can advance in their careers,” he says. “As a manager, you need to understand what skills your team needs to develop, openly communicate this, and give them the tools and guidance that they need to grow. From my experience, attitude equals altitude.”

Mr. Tufano can be contacted at 312-219-8050 or phil.tufano@kokuahospitality.com

Coming up in September 2019...

Hotel Group Meetings: Uncommon Destinations

The last few years have been good to the Hotel Group Meetings industry and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. Planners are brimming with confidence due to an expanding economy and increased job creation, which typically results in a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are trying to outdo themselves to satisfy the high expectations of their clients. One notable trend is to integrate unusual settings into the meeting experience, hosting groups at local zoos, aquariums, museums, event centers, or other outdoor facilities. The goal is to embrace uncommon destinations, rather than a typical hotel conference room, so that meetings can be memorable, unique and stimulating. This is also part of another trend which is to support all things local - from hosting events at landmark city venues; to catering through local restaurants, food trucks and microbreweries; to hosting off-site excursions like agri-tours, athletic events or scenic 5k routes. However, though the setting might be spectacular, there are still some bedrock components that must be provided to ensure a successful meeting. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi is still one of the most requested services. Planners have to make sure that a comprehensive communication infrastructure is in place so clients can easily connect - and stay connected - to the network throughout the entire meeting experience. Also, technology tools can be used to streamline the booking, registration, and check-in process, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) materials can be utilized to ensure seamless access to conference events. There are also numerous software tools that encourage audience participation, as well as integrating polls, Q&A, surveys and games into speakers' presentations. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.