Celebrating breakthroughs at the 2022 Virtus Awards

The 8th Virtus Awards, with the theme “Breakthrough 2022,” honored outstanding individuals and marketing campaign from the hospitality industry.

After two years of gathering and celebrating via laptop screens, the Virtus Awards, the annual peer-recognition event of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA), finally held its first face-to-face awarding ceremonies at Okada Manila last Oct. 25.

As in previous years, the Virtus Awards honored outstanding individuals and marketing campaign from the hospitality industry as people travel more and as the country benefits from the easing of health protocols.

There were three winners for the individual categories. For Outstanding Sales & Marketing Associate, the top plum went to Jhune Niño Calinawan, banquet sales executive of Quest Hotel & Conference Center-Cebu. The Outstanding Sales & Marketing Manager award was given to Marie Antonnette de Belen, Conrad Manila’s senior sales manager. Recognition for Outstanding Sales & Marketing Leader was awarded to Michelle Angeli Crudo, director of sales at Novotel Manila Araneta City.

For the Outstanding Marketing Campaign award, recognition was given to Newport World Resorts (NWR) for its “I Love Earth” program, which was established as the resort group’s commitment to sustainability after seeing the disruption and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NWR houses five international hotels, a shopping mall, casinos, entertainment venues, and MICE facilities. As part of its post-pandemic plans, they are consolidating and integrating all sustainability efforts throughout the property complex under “I Love Earth.” The program’s main innovation is the creation of the I Love Earth Council, which quickly assessed and identified priority areas for collaboration. These priorities have since become NWR’s basis for its sustainability targets.

8th Virtus Awards winners with HSMA board of directors

Virtus Awards chairperson Rose Libongco congratulated this year’s winners, saying that their achievement marked the start of their “odyssey” in the industry.

“Every day forward is your opportunity to prove that you are the right winner. Watchful eyes are on you to continue to demonstrate excellence in purpose, plan, and action thereby educating others directly, inspiring by example, and converting others towards the philosophy of winning until you form a like-minded army who will make your objectives doable, replicate them and eventually perpetuate your ideals of success,” Libongco said.

With the theme “Breakthrough 2022,” outgoing HSMA president Benjie Martinez said that this year’s winners are helping the industry break free from the pandemic by “embracing opportunities and relentlessly pursuing business for [their] respective properties despite the challenges.”

He added: “For fostering creativity and bringing in new perspectives and ideas that drive customer loyalty, and for taking pride in doing quality work regardless of the task, you are worthy of the Virtus Awards.”

Also recognized at this year’s Virtus Awards, which is now in its eighth year, its most auspicious, as Libongco pointed out, were the winners of 2020 and 2021, respectively: Okada Manila events executive Erika Denice Patajo and Hotel 101 Group MICE sales executive Ericka Joy Calamba (Outstanding Marketing Associates); El Nido Resorts senior sales manager Pio Sanchez and JPark Island Resort & Waterpark Mactan, Cebu marketing and communications manager Alexis John Aquino (Outstanding Marketing Managers); Conrad Manila sales-FiT director Bae Eun Joo and Robinsons Hotels and Resorts’ sales and marketing group director Joselina de Mesa (Outstanding Marketing Leader).

Started in 2015, the Virtus Awards is organized by HSMA with the support of co-presenters Department of Tourism (DOT), Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines, Gold partners Atlantis and Okada Manila; Silver partners Dida Travel, Crimson Filinvest, and Media Meter; Bronze partners IDeaS, Maya Business, and Newport World Resorts; Wine & Snack Partner EDI (Barefoot, Harveys, and PikNik).