5 Things to Know About HSMAI Lifetime Honoree Harris Rosen

Harris Rosen has never forgotten the power of first impressions. It’s something he learned during his very first job in the hospitality industry, working the front desk at The Barclay — today the InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel — the summer before his freshman year at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.

“Back then, the front-desk position was divided into two areas — reception and information,” Rosen said in a recent interview with HSMAI. “I began my career as an information clerk, meeting and greeting guests, providing pertinent hotel and NYC visitor information. Subsequently, I earned the role of reception clerk and began formally welcoming and registering patrons of the hotel. This early experience provided me with a keen insight into the importance of imbuing a warm and inviting first impression to make guests feel most welcome to the hotel. I have never forgotten this concept and to this day stress the importance of a genuine welcome and sincere greeting from all of our staff to our guests.”

Those would be guests of Rosen Hotels & Resorts, the portfolio of nine properties in Orlando, Florida, that Rosen founded, owns, and operates — the first one purchased in 1973. His name is also on the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management as well as the Harris Rosen Foundation, which supports scholarships and other community programs throughout Orlando. He’ll be honored for his many years of service with HSMAI’s Albert E. Koehl Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Marketing, which will be presented at the Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala in New York City on Jan 22

“I am very honored and humbled, especially as this recognition is bestowed upon by my hospitality peers,” Rosen said. “I value the acknowledgment by my colleagues and will continue to work hard and to promote our collective efforts for the continued growth and betterment of our much-beloved industry.”

Here are five things we learned from our interview with Harris Rosen:

1. It took a while for him to put his name on things. “Early on, my company’s portfolio of hotels consisted of a series of loosely held franchise arrangements. It was not until the mid-1990s that I realized the potential for rebranding what is now my Rosen Hotels & Resorts Inc. collection. The Rosen brand emerged as a result of our studied decision to concentrate our entire hotel inventory in the Orlando market. Currently, we operate as a single-destination, independent brand and compete mightily with the well-known major hotel brands.”

2. He thinks marketing has evolved — to a point. “In the early days, radio, print, television, street-team guerrilla efforts, and word of mouth served as the primary marketing channels. Over time, while many of these concepts still remain in play, much of our world has gone digital. Social media has proven an imperative addition, while progressive marketing techniques continue to evolve. When it comes to clients, building one-on-one relationships has always been and will always be of paramount importance to our company and continues to be best accomplished with in-person meetings both at events hosting clients at our hotels and by our attendance at important industry trade shows.”

3. His approach is simple. “My sense for the secret to hospitality marketing is that there is no secret. A clear message directed to the interests and nuances of each target audience is of paramount importance. Well-scripted, concise messaging that is reflective of your organization’s core values always rings loud and clear. I have discovered that providing a personal glimpse into our company culture and showcasing our vast array of philanthropic initiatives sheds a bright light on what we are all about. In the end, I believe that, in addition to commonality of purpose, clients gravitate toward organizations that demonstrate a genuine caring for them and the community for which they serve.”

4. Speaking of caring: He does. A lot. “The Harris Rosen Foundation was established as a result of my personal success in the hospitality industry. I have reaped rewards far beyond those I could have ever imagined, and giving back, for me, was a logical response. The foundation provides for a wide variety of philanthropic endeavors predominantly focused on education. Two of my most cherished community efforts are the Tangelo Park and Parramore programs. These two initiatives in particular directly benefit youngsters from underserved communities with a head start through free preschool and encouraging them to graduate high school by providing the promise of a free education at a vocational or technical school or college at a Florida public institution. This includes tuition, room, board, and books. The link between my personal success, the hospitality industry, and our desire to help others is evident.”

5. He’ll never be done. “My career has been, and continues to be, a wonderful journey. I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams. Over the years, I have been able to purchase and develop what is now my nine-property, 6,700-guest-room portfolio. There are so many things that I sought to accomplish along the way, many of which I have seen through to fruition. I surmise that additional development via expansion to my existing properties and potential new buildings will continue to remain a part of my dreamscape. My appetite will never be satiated, particularly as it relates to expanding my philanthropic initiatives. Additional hotel development and/or acquisitions are certainly calling; however, I am equally passionate in creating even more opportunities to help others.”

Categories: Marketing
Insight Type: Articles