HSMAI Top 25 Profiles: Virgin Hotels’ Sonali Fernando

HSMAI recently honored the 2020 Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization — recognizing leaders from hospitality, travel, and tourism organizations for their accomplishments in the preceding 18 months. We’re profiling all of them in a forthcoming HSMAI Special Report that we’re previewing with excerpts, including Sonali Fernando, regional director of revenue for Virgin Hotels.

Sonali Fernando is a dynamic, results-driven leader with more than 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry and a diverse background in branded and lifestyle hotels in highly competitive urban destinations and resort markets. She is responsible for leading an energized revenue optimization team that is dedicated to achieving top- and bottom-line performance, managing distribution strategy, and gaining market share. Prior to joining Virgin Hotels, Fernando worked for Hostmark Hospitality, where she held various positions including accommodations specialist, revenue manager, director of revenue, and, most recently, regional director of revenue overseeing a diverse portfolio of more than 15 hotels.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Even before COVID-19, Fernando was being called on to take on more responsibility and adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. Working for a growing brand, she became the go-to person to help Virgin improve performance at a challenged asset and to open two new hotels.

NOMINATED BY: Ed Skapinok, HSMAI Sales Advisory Board — “As hoteliers we are lucky to have someone with Sonali’s unique combination of intellect, determination, and enthusiasm. Sonali succeeded in every circumstance because of her tireless work ethic and willingness to try new approaches to achieve superior results. She has decided that hospitality is the place for her and has dedicated herself to a career in this field.”


“Success has always been my primary motivator. Despite having to reevaluate how we define success in the current environment, it is still possible to win. Figuring out how to keep winning, to not just survive the times but to excel despite them, has been my motivation. The pandemic has forced all of us in the hospitality industry to become more, do more, to be nimble, move faster, work harder, get more done with fewer resources. To be able to deliver results in the most difficult of times has kept me motivated over the past year. It has also been inspiring to watch teams come together and develop new ways of working. We have stopped doing things because we’ve always done them, and overhauled processes to improve efficiencies. The adaptability and resilience of the people I work with has been inspiring.”

Categories: Revenue Management
Insight Type: Articles