Insights from HSMAI’s single/multi-unit Marketing Professional of the Year: Holly King

HSMAI staff recently sat down with Holly King, Area Director of Marketing at White Lodging. King will receive the single/multi-unit Marketing Professional of the Year during HSMAI’s Commercial Strategy Conference in Charlotte on June 26th.    

King is a multidisciplinary marketing strategist with 9 years of boutique and franchise hospitality experience. She joined White Lodging in late 2021 as a Sr. Market Marketing Manager, demonstrating the impact of senior field leadership and advocating for the continued development of the greater marketing department.   

As White Lodging’s first Area Director of Marketing, Holly leads a direct and indirect team of strategic marketing managers and is responsible for the digital and field marketing performance of 37 premium branded hotels and restaurants in the Austin, Texas region. Her role oversees brand strategy, digital optimization, integrated media, PR, content, and creative. She is an active member of Marriott International’s Convention & Resort Network Council.  

Read on for our interview with Holly King!  

How did you get involved with HSMAI? What impact has your HSMAI membership had on your professional development?  

I got involved with HSMAI via my local Austin chapter. I was introduced to the organization at a time when my understanding of hospitality career paths was still somewhat limited. One of the biggest things HSMAI has given me has been an awareness of the excellence of my industry network. Networking in this environment opened my eyes to the diversity of the hospitality industry, and the confidence to create my place within it.  

What is the guiding philosophy of your career thus far?  

  1. Be respectfully honest. Only saying what you think people want to hear is a quick way to burnout and stagnancy. Listening and responding with informed honesty not only allows your creativity to shine, but it is the key to fostering your own sense of shared ownership in your work and organization. Don’t be afraid to share your expertise and reap the benefits of true collaboration.  
  2. Stay present: with your people, your work, and yourself. There’s always more to be done, more to create, more to revamp, etc. Setting boundaries that allow you to the mental space to be present and focused is the key to making effective and smart decisions.  
  3. People first.  

Could you share key habits you think are important for those starting off in the industry?  

Learn the importance of marginal gains. Big, singular, goals are almost always impossible to reach, and no one performs at their best when they feel constantly defeated. Set micro goals and enjoy the wins (and lessons) along the way.  

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Which is hard for marketers – being hyper-aware is part of what makes us good at our jobs! But knowing what to let go of is essential to allowing yourself the space to really shine at what you’re great at. 

Where do you see the biggest opportunities for growth in hospitality marketing? 

One of the most exciting (and sometimes stressful) things about marketing is how quickly strategies and tools change. Thinking back to the start of my career, I cringe to remember how much of an emphasis was put on quantity-driven digital practices like SEO keyword stuffing. In just 10 years we’ve made countless shifts to strategies and “best practices”; the next 10 will require even more. I think the biggest opportunities will come to those that embrace new tools and tactics with calm curiosity, rather than disruptive urgency or defiance.  

How do you foster innovation and creativity within your team? 

I think most marketing leaders would say that perfection is a core enemy of both creativity and productivity. My goal is always to create an environment that encourages collaboration and kind feedback. I hold monthly “creative days” with my team – a time for us to sit together and fine-tune one focus area, in a non-judgmental way. Allowing my team to see me critique my own work, draft and re-draft, and laugh with them when things don’t go right, has been a vital part of fostering their confidence to try new and creative things. Trust is a circle!  

What significance does receiving the HSMAI’s single/multi-unit Marketing Professional of the Year award hold for you? 

This recognition means a great deal to me and wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my incredibly talented team and mentors. I am fortunate to be surrounded by innovators and experts who encourage me to continue asking the kinds of questions that have been vital to my growth and the growth of my department. My hospitality career has spanned from independent boutiques to corporate organizations, and having my efforts acknowledged at this stage confirms my belief that there is room for creativity and learning in any environment. I’m very thankful! 


Categories: Marketing
Insight Type: Articles