Winners of HSMAI Europe 2021 Awards announced at HSMAI Europe Commercial Strategy Week in London

Winners of the HSMAI Europe Awards 2021 were unveiled at a Gala Ceremony, which took place at the Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel in London last week.

The event was part of the annual HSMAI Europe Commercial Strategy Week. The aim of the awards is to promote result oriented and innovative leadership among young executives, and to focus on companies that have shown innovation and adaptability.

Digitalization is one of the important driving forces in society today and has become even more important during the pandemic.

The HSMAI Europe awards take place every year and reflect the passion, determination and innovation of executives working in different disciplines across the region.

The Judges

  • Valerie De Corte, Global Alliance & Partnership Director at EHL
  • Monna Nordhagen, Founder & Owner at MARS Brand Agency
  • Eric Brun, Chair of the HSMAI Europe Marketing & Branding Advisory Board
  • Philippe B. Roy, Director Global Strategic Partnerships Europe – Head of the Hospitality Vertical at AMEX
  • Terje Olsen, CEO at Broadstone Network

Ingunn Hofseth, President and CEO of HSMAI Europe comments:

“On behalf of the Association, I would like to express our gratitude to the Judges Panel for their time and commitment to the Awards.

“All the finalists shone as leading lights in the industry and inspirational role models – particularly as the industry has had to overcome the unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic. The Awards highlight and reward those who have shown innovation and adaptability through new business models and/ or internal improvements.

“The finalists clearly showed that in order to not only survive, but thrive, it is essential to shake up the status quo. Adapting often means being prepared to change the mindset, stepping outside the norm and creating new solutions to support the industry’s recovery.

HSMAI Europe Young Talent of the Year (joint winners)


  • Olivia Rocky, Marketing Manager at Interstate Hotels & Resort
  • Christopher Thomas Keates, Key Account Director at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)

Judges’ comments

Winner: Olivia Rocky

“In creating the Interstate Marketing Taskforce, Liv has brought together numerous creative minds all with various strengths and experiences.Through Liv’s innovative leadership she has created a culture of collaboration to produce marketing ideas, plans and campaigns that benefit the entire portfolio.The tools and resources which Liv has created to support performance of the hotels adds real value, they ensure that marketing efforts are focussed in the right areas to drive maximum profitability. Liv constantly stays ahead of the trends in the current market conditions and is an invaluable asset to the industry. ”

Winner: Christopher Thomas Keates

“Chris has always been an advocate for change, winning awards in previous years for change management. He is a natural born leader and winner, someone who finds ways to work smarter and is there for team members. His dedication to move through various focus industries for IHG has been pinnacle to his success, and his desire to apply has shown that he learns quickly and makes a difference. Chris is known for the right things that make him stand out. With such a dynamic situation in 2021 with changes to travel happening so frequently and heavily impacting our industry, we have all had to be agile and flexible, Chris went above and beyond that not only for himself but for his colleagues, peers, and the hotels he represents.”

HSMAI Europe Sales Professional of the Year


  • Mouncef Bencherif, Senior Key Account Director at Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG)
  • Jas Sandhu, Director of Sales & Marketing at Interstate Hotels & Resorts Europe

Judges’ comments:

Winner: Mouncef Bencherif

“Mouncef has had a fantastic year leading by example throughout the crisis, being a great motivator and innovative, adapting to change and turning it to an opportunity. Mouncef mastered every challenge, solving problems, finding solutions, and reaching out for support to drive the RFP 2022 Strategy with a strong pricing position. Mouncef worked flexibly to reflect the changing business environment during 2021 and focused tirelessly on recovery to build and shift share to IHG for 2022. He has been a major advocate of IHG`s CSR green engage and sustainability programme both internally and externally, and was instrumental in delivering several reports and analysis on carbon emission for each of his clients who were then able to manage their travel policy more efficiently.”

Fabian Specht Revenue Professional of the Year

Sponsored by IDeaS Revenue Solutions


  • Hayley Jenkins, Regional Revenue Manager at Best Western Hotels & Resorts GB
  • Monika Sand, Corporate Revenue Manager at Lindner Hotels AG
  • Justyna Obieglo, Director of Revenue Management at IHG, InterContinental Warsaw

Judges’ comments

Winner: Monica Sand

“This award has been granted to Monika Sand to recognize her contributions to Revenue Optimization for hospitality. Monika is an innovative leader and is permanently developing the organizational structure around her discipline. Thanks to her expertise and initiative, Lindner introduced a cluster revenue structure, which is one of their success factors. She understands revenue as both the basis and the driver in communication and collaboration across all disciplines, working towards “un-siloed” cooperation and transparency. She understands perfectly how to explain the market needs and to analyze the revenue streams in order to guarantee the most attractive and valuable price point.”

HSMAI Europe Marketing Professional of the Year


  • Diane-Laure Dudoué, Director of Communications at InterContinental Paris le Grand
  • Elena Ljiljanic, PR & Marketing Manager at Regent Porto Montenegro

Judges’ comments

Winner: Diane-Laure Dudoué

“Diane-Laure has a proven experience in creating PR strategy and driving results. She has promoted her creative ideas to hotel management, corporate headquarters and agencies. She always innovates by selecting bespoke brands for Kimpton like a dedicated program to pet lovers to surprise and amaze guests. She shows a burning passion for the profession and has brilliantly succeeded by repositioning Le Grand Hotel and implementing Kimpton and its brand awareness in France. This award highlights her exceptional work, and she is a great asset to IHG Hotels.”

HSMAI Europe Event Inspirer of the Year

Sofitel Legend Grand Amsterdam were unfortunately unable to attend the ceremony, but Franck X. Arnold, Managing Director & Regional Vice-President at The Savoy was there to receive the award on their behalf.

Judges’ comments

Winner: Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam

“Many hotels invest in different forms of art, for the pleasure of their guests and staff. Some take this to a higher level, to position the hotel with the help of their long history with art and the focus they give art today. In addition the winner also wanted to focus more on Corporate Social Responsibility. The solution was to create a project called Artists in Residence.

A range of artists are being given a helping hand and invited to stay in the Artists in Residence Suite, to work on a new piece of art. The project encompasses different art disciplines, from painters to poets and from jewellery designers to photographers. Bort young talents and renowned artists participate in the project. The ultimate goal is to support the art world during a difficult time, and further strenghten the hotel’s position to art and Corporate Social Responsibility.”

HSMAI Europe Technology Innovator of the Year (joint winners)

The following companies were nominated:

  • OTA Insight
  • Oaky
  • RateGain
  • The Hotels Network
  • Thynk.Cloud
  • Arvoia
  • Cvent
  • MiceRate

Judges’ comments

Winner: Global Market Insight by OTA Insight

“How can hotels make more informed decisions on critical topics like budgeting and forecasting, the return and recruitment of staff, and when to adjust their pricing strategy? One company has come up with an answer. This interactive heatmap can serve as a new industry benchmark to track worldwide recovery for the travel and hospitality industries. It combines recovery trends from the last six months and a demand outlook for the next 90 days, completely free of charge. The insights displayed for each destination include: flight and hotel search evolution index, available hotels, lead time trends and the top countries searching for the destination ”

Winner: Bench Direct by The Hotels Network

“Hotel benchmarking is essential to every hotel brand’s growth strategy. How can hotels get more bookings through their own channels and reduce OTA costs? This question has been, and still is, one of the most important for the hotel industry, especially recovering from the pandemic.
Hotels need real-time competitive insight to understand better how their recovery is going, compared to the market as a whole. This new tool, launched in 2021, is a powerful new technology for hotel brands. Using this free solution, all hotels regardless of their budgets, can see where their property stand in comparison to their competition, making it easier for hotels to remain competitive.”

HSMAI Europe Marketing Inspirer of the Year

Judges’ comments

Winner: Visit Norway for their campaign «Top 13.000 reasons why you should visit Northern Norway»

“13,000 reasons to visit Norway…” also received “Best in Show at HSMAI Adrian Award in US”, a much praised and humourous campaign. This involved the creators getting feed-back from 13,000 visitors to Northern Norway and read aloud in one take, creating the longest review of all time.“

Please note two of the categories will be handed out later this year due to challenges with Covid and flight cancellations. These are:

  • HSMAI Europe Best use of Brand
  • HSMAI Europe Young Hotelier of the Year

About HSMAI Europe
HSMAI – Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International – is a global organization founded in the US in 1927. HSMAI Region Europe is the European arm of the organisation. HSMAI Europe aims to be a key influencer, pioneer and the go-to industry resource for professional development, commercial strategies and sustainability in the hospitality, travel and tourism industry.

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