These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to email@example.com.
Katrina Stewart was recently appointed regional director, national accounts, Midwest on the convention development team for NYC & Company.
1. What are you looking forward to the most in your new role?
Having come from a specific hotel brand (Marriott International), this position provides me with the unique opportunity to sell New York City holistically. I’m very much looking forward to acquainting myself with and then showcasing the wealth of venues and hotels large and small across all five boroughs as a viable option for planers in the Midwest. Diving in, I’m already eagerly raising awareness of the ongoing $1.5 billion expansion of the Javits Center which will add a total of 1.2 million square feet of space. I know the 55,000 square foot, pillarless ballroom will be a major selling point and that overall, this development, the countless other unique spaces opening citywide, and my desire to personalize my efforts and provide tailored recommendations that suit each unique client’s needs will allow me to bring new business to the City.
2. How do you think past experiences have prepared you for this role?
Having been a senior event manager earlier in my career and working in sales for the past ten years, I feel equipped to both understand the nuanced needs of the client as a planner, as well as the bottom line goals of the venues and the overall value of conventions and events for the destination.
3. How did you get into the industry?
I have a love for cooking for my family and friends, which started as a child cooking in the kitchen with my mother. This love for cooking, and creating memorable experiences for my family, led me to study hotel and restaurant management at Penn State.
In my final semester there, on a visit to Baltimore searching for my first professional Hospitality position, I met with Bill Walsh, the general manager of the brand new (at the time) Baltimore Marriott Waterfront. We bonded over the school’s football team and the fantastic environment Penn State offers college students. I ultimately got the job of assistant restaurant manager there and never forgot the lesson. The ability to connect on a personal level before ever bringing business into the picture is a principal that I remain committed to, as I continue to build relationships at home, and on the road.
4. What are you hoping to achieve in your new role?
In this new role, I intend to use my knowledge to counter the misperception that New York City is an inaccessible destination for planners on a budget. That perception, while understandable, lacks the context of an expert such as myself and my colleagues, who could provide suggestions on neighborhoods whose product presents a lower price point, value periods where travel to the City is more affordable, and delegate discounts offered by many of our nearly 2,000 members across the five boroughs. Another method I’ll employ to achieve this goal will be to showcase success stories, associations and corporate groups who’ve had a productive, affordable, well-attended meeting in New York City. Those experiences will prove to those on the fence that they can and should “Make It NYC.”
5. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
The people. I’ve always felt this industry is an extended family, with colleagues near and far who you meet along the way contributing to the fabric of our warm community. Hospitality, events and tourism professionals all share the united goals of flexing our creative muscles to benefit the guest, attendee and traveler. In New York City, a melting pot of people, cultures and experiences, there are memories to be made for groups as small as 10 and conventions as big as 30,000. I enjoy being able to provide the building blocks for unique experiences and above all, I love building trust with genuine people and eventually turning those relationships into memorable experiences in the form of booked business.