Name: Michelle Jamieson
Position title: Corporate Director of Marketing Communications
Company name: Centara Hotels & Resorts
When and why did you join the industry?
I was born into the tourism world in part because my father has been an academic and consultant in the tourism realm for decades. His activity in the field, together with our frequent family travel often to quite exotic places helped to convince me that this was the industry that I wanted to work in. My interest was further solidified when we moved to Southeast Asia where we frequently travelled not only in the region but throughout Asia. My first experience working in the hospitality industry was with Starwood Hawaii where I had the opportunity to be mentored by the Director of Public Relations for Hawaii. I became an integral part of the team where I learned and began to truly appreciate the opportunities of becoming a professional in public relations.
What do you like most about your job?
There is always something new happening. I am able to be creative and to explore many different facets of the hospitality business. I have always been a storyteller and now my love for writing and research serve me well in helping to develop my expertise and experience. Whether investigating business angles or crafting more lifestyle driven pieces, there is always a story that can be shared, a story to be told.
What’s one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
I have been fortunate this past year to experience and learn from leaders in the hospitality industry. I have also had the opportunity to grow and develop new competencies that far surpass that of public relations. The opportunity to experience ITB Berlin 2016 was a milestone since I was able to participate in the larger discussion of travel and tourism on a global scale by meeting new people and being exposed to new and exciting ideas.
What’s the best advice ever given to you and who gave it?
“Continue to be passionate about what you do. That passion will drive you to achieve your goals and succeed far beyond what you can imagine.” – Dr. Walter Jamieson, my father.
Who do you admire and see as a role model in the industry?
Frank Haas is a great role model in the tourism industry. As the former Vice President Tourism Marketing for the Hawaii Tourism Authority, he provided creative and forward thinking leadership. Most importantly, Frank exemplified integrity that he evidenced in his professional life.
What can people expect from your company and what sets it apart from the rest?
Centara Hotels & Resorts is a company that is growing quite rapidly in many different areas of the business. The leaders within Centara have identified areas where opportunities exist and are being proactive in capitalizing on those opportunities. Every voice within the Centara family is heard and valued. As part of the corporate culture, innovation and creativity are encouraged and nurtured. It is clear that the success of Centara is based on the cooperation and collaboration of team members in every aspect of the business.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
I have been fortunate to have travelled a great deal, however, there are still many destinations yet to be explored, primarily destinations where I wish to experience the culinary delights. Just to name a few would be Greece, Spain, Egypt, Israel, and Italy. The list does go on. There are many destinations I have been to that I would love to revisit to more fully appreciate their local culture.
What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?
Oh so many good and so many bad. When I was still in high school my family and I took a lot of very ‘exciting’ trips. I used to ask why we couldn’t take beach vacations like all of my other friends. Instead of beach vacations, the Jamiesons would go exploring through Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and many other destinations, which on reflection of everything I have experienced thus far, were the best trips of my life. The one memory that sticks out the most is a visit to Myanmar when we were travelled to a small village on a ‘ferry’. I use the word ‘ferry’ loosely in this case. The driver of our car pulled onto the ferry’s platform and we were asked to get out of the car while we travelled across the small river. On the deck, right beside the gasoline tanks was an open fire, a rather large one, where people were cooking a meal – must have been lunch time! We arrived safely to the other side of the river, even to the sheer lack of identification of the potential danger that the open fire may have caused. We made it across the river…twice – there and back – so I now see it as a character building exercise.
What are three things you always take with you when travelling?
I definitely am not a light traveller – shoes, bags, and the kitchen sink – however, the three things would be a flashlight, first aid kit and my laptop. Seeing I am part of Gen X, I do not need to mention my mobile as it genetically has become part of my DNA!
Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and a destination you’d like to go with them.
I would definitely say that it would be a great pleasure to travel with Anthony Bourdain, chef, author and TV personality, to eat and drink our way through Italy. In reality though, I would travel anywhere with Anthony since from what I can see from his show on CNN, Parts Unknown, he knows how to have a good time eating and drinking and getting a unique perspective on cultures and lifestyles.
What direction do you see the industry heading in over the next five to ten years?
It is clear that consumers are becoming more savvy and are looking for authentic information from the brands they are researching. A consumer is much more interested in facts than they were before and they are clearly looking for an experience which encompasses a number of factors. From a marketing perspective, it is vital that we begin to step up our game and create much more challenging and dynamic campaigns based on solid experiences and create storytelling for our future guests and to attract our return guests. Generic messaging and promotional tools are no longer reaching the same audiences with the same effectiveness and this is a trend that will continue. Hospitality brands need to invest heavily in their brand promotions, online and offline, as the competition continues to increase. The brands that have managed to capture the younger generations – Gen X and Y – will have a better chance of being considered when travel planning. It is important that the baby boomers and the older generation are also targeted as the potential revenue from those demographics can be significant. It is clear that it is just not good enough to offer a great product. Brands need to create dynamic, engaging social media campaigns, colourful and intellectual advertisements, and create a community around their brand offerings in order to stay top of mind and to become the brand of choice.