Melissa Kouvelas is director of worldwide sales for Best Western Hotels & Resorts and a member of HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board.
I am where I am today because of my passion for finding solutions, developing strategies, and inspiring others to achieve their goals. I studied sports and leisure recreation management in college. After college, I did an internship with a hotel, and that was what brought me into the hotel world. I would have never guessed back then that I would be in a sales role today!
I initially started on-property as a conference services manager, and then I went into catering sales and then group sales, and finally ended up in Arizona at Best Western, in an account manager position for business travel. I’ve been here for 13 years, moving into a field manager position, managing larger business travel accounts and top accounts, but also managing an account manager team for small and medium accounts. From there, I had the opportunity to create a new team in the field, so I now manage 12 people in the field and a team of five account managers.
What kept me here was the opportunity to be challenged. I’m always looking to learn and evolve, and I’ve had that opportunity working with many different departments and people. I’ve gotten to learn from my team and their strengths. I wouldn’t have the opportunities to take on so many different roles without all the amazing people here.
Another thing that’s helped me is developing relationships first and then focusing on the business side of things based on the solutions I can provide. My advice to anyone would be to know your strengths and those of others around you to leverage internal partnerships. Don’t be afraid to risks and walk through the door when it opens.