Jonathan Kaplan is vice president of global sales strategy at IHG and a member of HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board.
As a kid, some of my favorite memories were traveling with the family on our summer vacations, usually staying at a Holiday Inn. My passion for the travel sector comes from the ability to help create those same memories and experiences for others and deliver true hospitality for all.
I earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where I majored in business administration with an area of specialization in hotel management. I started my career working in an advertising firm handling Wyndham Resorts, where I was designing their kids’ club program. I then moved to a “management in development” program at Wyndham, where I was the assistant F&B manager while completing the training program. I finished that in a year and moved into a business travel sales manager role at the Wyndham Washington DC City Centre.
After that I worked at W Hotels of New York as a business travel sales manager for the five W’s in NYC. I served in a group role at W before moving to Starwood global sales, handling business travel for five of the top 20 accounts, and then worked as the managing director, leading the global relationships for five of Starwood’s top 20 accounts. Also at Starwood, I worked to develop the company’s global airline strategy. I was then director, NBD and digital programming, where I worked with all the non-B2B-facing groups within Starwood to help them understand the B2B customer and was the business lead on SPG Pro. My final role at Starwood was as the director, global leisure and luxury sales. This was the last segment of B2B that I had not experienced.
Currently I am the VP, global sales strategy, at IHG, where I lead the ideation and execution of our B2B strategy across each of our B2B segments. I am responsible for the ideation, evolution, change management, and execution of sales strategies across our B2B sales segments on a global level. These segments include corporate travel, travel management companies, groups and meetings, group new business development, airline, wholesale, and business edge (IHG’s small-medium enterprise offering).
When looking at opportunities, the best thing to do is think about what new skills you are learning to add to your personal toolbox. Do not focus on title and pay as much, because if you focus on honing your skills, the title and pay will come. I have had the pleasure of working for some exceptional bosses (Asad Ahmed, Alice Caravello, Betty Wilson, Mary Casey, Christie Hicks, and Derek DeCross), who have invested so much of their time in helping me develop my personal leadership style, and I owe it to them to do the same for the next generation of hospitality leaders.