By Frances Moffett, HSMAI Editorial Content Director
MMGY Global CEO Clayton Reid spent his childhood living all over the world — on three continents, to be exact — so it was no surprise that he ventured into the hospitality industry at the start of his career. “Connecting to travel in my professional life was a natural and welcome focus for me,” he says. “I was fortunate to have MMGY Global founder Don Montague introduce me to the industry at a young age, and it immediately sparked my intellectual curiosity.”
Reid has worked with companies all over the world for three decades — including Barbados Tourism, Enterprise Holdings, Marriott International, and United Airlines — and has helped lead MMGY Global’s growth across six countries and 13 offices, all while continuing to be an industry advocate. His work led him to receive the 2021 HSMAI Albert E. Koehl Lifetime Achievement Award for Hospitality Marketing at this year’s Adrian Awards ceremony in March.
“I’m surprised and honored to receive this award, and I am grateful to those who felt we deserved this recognition,” Reid says. “This is the only industry I have ever known, and it has paid dividends that are impossible for me to measure.”
Reid has been involved with HSMAI since 1995, serving as a board member from 1996-2003. In addition to this award, he has received the American Express Steven Harvey Achievement Award and was selected for the exclusive Arthur Page Society. Outside of the industry, he is an advocate for sustainability and social causes. Reid is a board member for the Midwest Innocence Project, an organization committed to exonerating the wrongly accused, and has been active with Operation Breakthrough, a support system for children in poverty, as well as Watts of Love, a global NGO that brings simple lighting solutions to communities without electricity.
Working extensively in a variety of cultures and business environments has led Reid to believe that travel is the most important bridge for building understanding, cultural empathy, and economic opportunity.
“Travel provides so much to our communities,” he says. “Whether it be economic opportunity or the personal connections we make through the hospitality of others, we all know how crucial this is to living well. It is, therefore, our obligation to give back as best we can, in our own original way.”
Travel has also been “crucial to economic recovery” during the pandemic, Reid says, and he thinks this will continue. “We, as a company, have been bullish for more than a year, far before many other industry experts who were negative about the return of travel. We continue to see massive growth for both leisure and commercial travel well into 2023.”
Reid is also optimistic about the future of the industry. “I believe the innovation rate and the talent that has been coming into our industry this last decade continues to get better and better. The hospitality tech stack, the growing focus on hotel asset value, and the recognition that travel drives the global economy have never been more apparent to government, private investors, and macro industries.”
These ever-changing and sometimes challenging times brought on by the pandemic have caused many leaders to reevaluate how they work with their teams effectively. For Reid, it’s all about getting back to company values.
“Two major philosophies guide us at MMGY Global today: being patient with the needs of our colleagues as we come back to more normal business conditions and working hard to recruit the smartest and most diverse staff we can find in all our global offices,” he explains. “Along with our senior team, I am placing a priority on our five company values of being transformative, empowering, curious, creative, and inclusive.”
These values are also what keep Reid excited about his work every day. “Travel and travel marketing are changing so fast, especially as it relates to the use of data and omni-channel campaign development. The content we are creating for clients such as CCL, Marriott, Colorado Tourism, and Singapore Airlines is so fun to be a part of, as our team executes such amazing work.”
While finding and retaining talent has been a hot-button issue for many across hospitality sales, marketing, and revenue optimization, for those who are coming into the industry, Reid offers this advice: “Outwork and outlearn your peers, and you can grow your career in ways that you may not fully realize. There are so many ways to engage smart people in our industry, and it is key to take the steps to connect with their point of view.”