Roberta Possenti is the Vice President of Europe for Preferred Hotels, and in her position, Roberta Possenti oversees the European strategy and works to drive retention and development for Preferred Hotels in Europe. She is also newly elected member of the HSMAI Region Europe, Board of Directors.
Most recently, she held the position of Managing Director of Southern Europe, where she was instrumental in generating significant awareness for the Preferred Hotels & Resorts brand among trade and leisure audiences, and was responsible for signing more than 40 world-renowned independent hotels and resorts in city and resort destinations across Italy, Greece, and Malta to brand’s global portfolio. Prior to joining Preferred, Roberta spent 10 years specialising in hospitality sales, specifically managing corporate, leisure, and group sales efforts for Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Hotels & Resorts.
Q: Who is Roberta Possenti?
A: My dream was to work in the hotel industry. After a variety of short-term jobs, I joined Hilton Hotels in Milan. This opened the doors to hospitality with Conrad Hilton’s ‘Be My Guest’ book. Thereafter I moved on and continued my personal growth in Starwood to then move into the world of independent hoteliers by joining Preferred Hotels & Resorts. I found this new world of independents extremely creative, opening doors to hospitality in a broader sense, expression of the love and attention of the owners towards their guests.
Q: What does HSMAI Region Europe mean to you?
A: It is an opportunity for continued personal growth, international vision, and networking. In this ever-changing world there is a need to remain abreast of change, embrace it and develop new tools to make the most of it. We must never stop looking around the corner and being curious.
Q: What will you bring to the table as a member of the Board of Directors?
A: My experience in working with branded and independent hotels in Southern Europe. The need to change the industry to best suit the times we live in, providing a balanced approach for work/life and diversity & inclusion. In the many years spent in the industry I have been exposed to many different cultures and approaches to the business; each looking to express itself through high end hospitality, without leaving behind its own identity, due to systems and techniques used elsewhere.
Q: You have a demanding job. What made you accept to become a member of the HSMAI Region Europe Board of Directors?
A: The interest to continue to explore our amazing industry, support piers, provide guidance to people entering the industry and learn from others in the market. The opportunity to share some of the knowledge I have gathered in many years giving back to the industry.
Q: What do you consider to be your personal strengths?
A: Gratitude and resilience. I’ve always felt privileged to work in the hospitality industry. As mentioned, it was my dream. I’m grateful for the people I’ve met and the opportunities I’ve been able to develop. There have been challenging times, the latest this past year, which have taught me to remain focused on the objective and build towards it, sooner or later it will be within reach.
Q: What does it take to become a successful leader in today’s hospitality sector?
A: Keeping an open mind with an eye to the evolution of the industry. Continuously building upon your knowledge and skills. Developing relationships based on values which last in time. Professionalism and recognition are built over time and need consistency.
Q: HSMAI Region Europe will reactivate the Mike Leven Mentor Programme. Please share your thoughts on mentorship.
A: I have recently entered a program which I am still participating in – Global Female Leader Program organized by WIHTL – and find the mentee experience wholly beneficial. Definitely incredibly valuable to be able to provide and receive guidance and insights. Based on my experience I would recommend trying it as it is important to have a ‘safe haven’ in which to share your thoughts and challenges. It provides a different viewpoint and really makes you think about the reasons behind your decisions/actions.
Q: HSMAI Region Europe will launch a brand-new initiative in September – The Student Council. Please share your thoughts around this and how you will help out.
A: Another great initiative. There is great value in working closer with students of the industry and keeping abreast of their needs and ambitions. To continue to grow in quality and service we need to better understand the evolution of the market sector and provide direction.
Q: How do HSMAI members benefit from the HSMAI Region Europe?
A: There is great benefit in participation, because of the learning and networking opportunities. It is fundamental to be part of something to make the most of it.
Q: Could you tell us what a day at work looks like for you?
A: The agenda is busy with internal meetings, client meetings, presentations and catch-up calls to align efforts and develop business opportunities; along with industry events for visibility and networking. There is increasing momentum and a great need to think things through to make the best use of time.
Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: Meeting people and engaging in conversations to understand their needs. In this digital/social media world it’s a precious gift when people take the time to share their views and challenges. They share part of themselves. Working together, showing I understand and trying to find solutions, provide opportunities, give back ideas makes the relationship special. These relationships help develop business and continue to grow together.
Q: Is there anyone you’ve been looking up to and why?
A: Definitely our CEO Lindsey Ueberroth, our President Michelle Woodley and all of our top management. They have been amazing throughout these challenging times for their confidence in the team and constantly providing support to continue to move things forward. In this family owned company I have always felt we were in this all together.
Q: Any final thoughts?
A: Definitely much to do in hospitality as new times are ahead of us and we need to respond differently to continue to flourish.
Photo: Roberta Possenti