Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Belmonte

Steven Belmonte

CEO, Vimana Franchise Systems LLC

Since becoming the youngest general manager in the history of Holiday Inn at the age of 18 and later buying the hotel he started at, to holding the title of longest standing President of a national franchised hotel chain while at the helm of the Ramada hotel chain, Steven J. Belmonte brings new meaning to the phrase “from the mailroom to the Boardroom.”

In 2002, Mr. Belmonte returned to his entrepreneurial roots and launched Hospitality Solutions LLC, a full-service, nationwide consultation firm specializing in lodging industry issues at the hotel and corporate level. Drawing on over 35 years of experience and key contacts both inside and outside of the industry, Hospitality Solutions was specifically designed to offer franchise negotiation services for hotel, restaurant, and quick service restaurant owners nationwide.

In 2002, Mr. Belmonte launched Vimana Franchise Systems LLC. In May 2011, Vimana Franchise Systems launched the Centerstone brand as a three-segment franchise designed to create a fair and cost effective model for the hospitality industry.

In November 2011, Key West Inns was re-launched under the Vimana Franchise ownership umbrella as a fun and uniquely themed leisure brand.

Prior to Hospitality Solutions, for nearly 11 years Mr. Belmonte was President and CEO of the Ramada hotel chain, which had over 1,000 hotels and nearly 135,000 hotel rooms throughout the United States. He also served as Executive Vice President of the Cendant Hotel Division. Major accomplishments included more than doubling the size of the chain, adding the Ramada Limited and Ramada Plaza Hotel tiers, and launching the bold "Ramada's In/Holiday's Out" advertising campaign.

As part of his plan to solidly position the Ramada chain in the upper-mid-tier segment, Mr. Belmonte also masterminded the revolutionary customer service initiative, Personal Best Hospitality, which offered tuition reimbursement and a variety of other incentives to foster a career path in the hotel industry.

Please visit http://www.vimanafs.com for more information.

Mr. Belmonte can be contacted at 407-654-5540 or steve@vimanafs.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.