HSMAI honored the 2022 Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, Revenue Optimization and Distribution — recognizing leaders from hospitality, travel, and tourism organizations for their accomplishments. Kristi Gole, Executive Vice President, Global Hotel Alliance is one of these honorees.
Kristi Gole is a passionate commercial leader responsible for the core product (the GHA DISCOVERY loyalty program), its roadmap and its growth at Global Hotel Alliance (GHA). GHA is the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands with 40 brands and 800 hotels across 100 countries. Kristi was part of the original team in this start-up and helped build the brand, the global marketing team, and the first-of-its-kind experiential loyalty program from the ground-up. GHA DISCOVERY has won over 100 awards for its innovations and now has 23 million members driving US$2B in revenue.
After leading an exploratory project in 2019, in 2020 Kristi was selected to lead an alliance-wide transformation, changing everything from the value proposition to the business model, to the technology, marketing and digital experience. Working closely with her CEO, she secured funding and approvals across hundreds of stakeholders and set out on the biggest project her company had undertaken.
What inspired this nomination?
“Kristi is a strong leader who worked tirelessly on this transformation project over a period of 3 years and it has been incredibly exciting to see it come to life and with such positive results.”
Q&A with Kristi Gole
What keeps you inspired?
I love learning. I love seeing new things, from different vantage points, and expanding my perspective. I’m a creative type and am always connecting the dots, so it excites me to be exposed to more ‘dots’ – I actively seek to be involved in, and have visibility to, as much as possible.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
1) Upskill as much as possible early on. It becomes harder to make time for that later in your career due to other priorities. For example, I wish I had taken courses on photoshop, or learned to code, or learned another language. All of those are not necessary for my job and I can lean on tools or colleagues for that instead, but I wish I had those skills and my 20s would have been a great time to learn them. I am very glad I did my MBA, though I wish that had been earlier too – balancing that on top of my job, and work travel, plus a toddler at home, was completely exhausting. Doing that in my 20s, with a less demanding role and no kids at the time, would have been smarter.
2) I think management consulting as a first or second job out of college would have been very useful. Understanding how businesses work and grow, and gaining exposure to that across various industries would be incredibly valuable as a foundation. And similar to point #1 – the hours are very demanding, so doing that early on, before kids and other priorities, would be easiest.