Insights from the Corporate Marketing Professional of the Year: Sean Dee

Sean Dee, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Outrigger Hospitality Group, will receive the 2022 HSMAI Corporate Marketing Professional of the Year Award during the HSMAI Marketing Strategy Conference, taking place June 28. “It’s certainly humbling to receive this recognition, but I truly believe that it’s a team award,” Dee said. “I’m extremely proud of the commercial team that we’ve assembled here at Outrigger, and I’m honored to serve them.”

Dee is responsible for developing and deploying global marketing, brand, revenue management, and sales strategies. Working closely with the company’s Hawai‘i and Asia-Pacific/Indian Ocean regions to address market-specific sales and marketing needs, Dee drives integration, collaboration, and consistency across the entire Outrigger global portfolio. He currently serves as board chair for the Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau and served the state of Hawai‘i as a member of the board of directors for the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority from 2014-2019, chairing numerous committees.

Prior to joining Outrigger, Dee was the executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) Worldwide and, subsequently, president of global branding. He has also held positions as chief marketing director for Hard Rock International, Inc., and both global marketing director, digital and vice president, marketing at Levi Strauss & Company. Here, Dee talks about how he’s seen hospitality marketing evolve over the years and what it takes to be a leader in this day and age.

HSMAI: How did you get your start in the industry?

Sean Dee: I started my hospitality career in the kitchen at Pearl’s Oyster Bar in Palo Alto, but then spent the next 15 years in advertising and marketing roles at Levi Strauss & Company. I was recruited to Hard Rock International as its first chief marketing officer and was able to leverage my culinary and merchandising background to help reignite the fading iconic brand, but, more importantly, be part of the company’s expansion to the hotel and casino business, which was transformational for the brand and for me. Since then, I’ve been able to collaborate with other passionate leaders at Anschutz Entertainment Group and now Outrigger Hospitality Group to help transform these great companies.

How did you get involved with HSMAI?

I’ve been a long-time member of HSMAI, serving on multiple boards and advisory committees, as well as participating in the CMO Executive Roundtable. HSMAI is a great organization that serves a wide range of constituents with ongoing education, certification, and partnership opportunities that are invaluable to its members.

During your time in the industry, how have you seen the hospitality marketing space evolve?

There has been tremendous evolution in the hospitality marketing space over the years, clearly driven by major changes in technology and distribution systems. These new tools, as well as significant improvements in business intelligence, allow marketers access to better data and insights, which, in turn, lead to better pricing decisions, channel management, and forecasting. And of course, there is enormous pressure in our industry (as well as many others) for brands to truly own their consumer relationship and influence their purchase decisions through loyalty programs, branded websites, personalization, and CRM initiatives.

As the industry moves toward pandemic recovery, what do you think it takes to be an effective leader in today’s challenging times?

I’ve always believed that hiring effectively and retaining great talent always ends up defining what makes a great leader. To be an effective leader, you need to have a collaborative and motivated team of high achievers who believe in the mission. For your team to believe in the mission, it’s critical that the leader communicates consistently in as compelling a manner as possible.

What would you describe as the best moment of your career?

Of course, the HSMAI Corporate Marketing Professional of the Year Award! In all seriousness, I’ve been blessed in my career to have so many great moments and highlights that it’s hard to identify one. That said, being able to live and work, but, more importantly, raise my two daughters with my beautiful wife in Hawaii has to be the highlight of my career. Aloha.

Categories: Marketing
Insight Type: Articles