A Conversation with John Washko, Vice President of Group Marketing and Sales, Atlantis, Paradise Island.

John Washko

Conversations with key executives, such as this one with John Washko, are some of my favorite features on Naked Hospitality. I started this site with the belief that truthful conversations about hospitality marketing would inspire new ideas. Ones that have real-world impact, encourage paradigm-shifting execution, and demonstrate that far-sighted risk taking can deliver meaningful return on investment. Hopefully, you will be inspired to join the conversation.

You’ve had a long and thriving career in the hospitality industry. To what do you attribute your success?

I grew up in the hospitality Industry, as my Dad was an executive with Marriott for over 25 years. I have a passion for this crazy business, and from the beginning have enjoyed going to work every day. I am a firm believer in the definition of luck being when preparation meets opportunity. So, to some extent, I would attribute what I have been able to accomplish to being lucky twice when I made job/role changes that catapulted my career. Another component has been my willingness to take calculated risks outside my comfort zone.

You began your hospitality career working in sales and then developed into a recognized sales and marketing leader. What did you learn going through this transition and taking on the marketing role with a sales background? What advice would you give others looking to follow this career path?

I learned in this transition the need to develop strong observation skills, patiently watch and listen, which at times can be a challenge to a driven, type “A” sales executive. In sales you learn your properties top benefits, and how to emphasize those benefits during the sales process. This is invaluable information to transition into a marketing role. My advice would be to get involved in marketing organizations such as HSMAI, and begin to self-educate through the myriad of information and case studies that live on HSMAI and other organizations websites. The next step is find a mentor to utilize as a resource in your career development. I was blessed to have been mentored by a sales & marketing legend, Mike “Shiny” Dimond.

What do you feel are today’s top sales and marketing challenges for large, multi-outlet, destination resorts like Atlantis?

The top challenge is aligning Atlantis’ benefits and value proposition to different customer segments based on the varied experiences our five towers and their price points provide. This needs to be accomplished while still maintaining the consistency of the Atlantis brand.

Atlantis is now part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. Is there any advice you can offer others transitioning from an independent to a branded property? Can you share some of the challenges and benefits you experienced working with a major brand, as you transitioned from an independent resort?

To clarify, Atlantis is still an independently owned and managed resort. Joining the Autograph family gives us access to marketing and distribution opportunities, as well as sharing in the power of an existing rewards programs for both the leisure and group market.
A number of the benefits are related directly to scale, such as the ability to market to a large, established database. A large part of distribution success is tied to share of voice. Large organizations are successful to some degree due to the processes and procedures they have established, a challenge for a small, entrepreneurial organization can be adapting to this environment.

What keeps you up at night? What are your biggest challenges/concerns for 2016 and beyond?

Remaining relevant to today’s and tomorrow’s consumers, as travel trends continue to skew towards the sharing economy of Airbnb, VRBO, Uber, ect. As an international destination, my largest concern is global disruption and instability due to
terrorist activities.

What’s one thing your team members would be surprised to know about you?

That after graduating from college, I did not have a real job until I was thirty years old. During this time, I worked in the restaurant industry and hung out at the beach or ski resorts whenever possible.

About John Washko
John Washko is the Vice President of Group Marketing and Sales, Atlantis, Paradise Island. In this role, he is responsible for leading the group sales team, setting the overall strategic direction and goals while achieving revenue targets for Atlantis.

Washko, a veteran in luxury hospitality sales and marketing with over 20 years of experience, first joined Atlantis in 1995 as the Director of National Sales and later was promoted to Executive Director of Group Sales, a position he held until departing the company in 2002. Most recently, Washko was the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Elite Meetings International, a hospitality marketing and technology company. Prior to that role, Washko was the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the historic The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Washko currently sits on HSMAI’s Americas Board Executive Committee (EC) and Elite Meetings International’s Advisory Board. Past roles include chairing HSMAI’s Resort Marketing Advisory Board. Additionally, for the Colorado Springs CVB, he chaired both the Board as well as the Marketing Committee. In 2010, Washko received The Resort Marketer of Year award from HSMAI. Washko received his BS from James Madison University

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 10th, 2016 at 3:37 pm and is filed under Conversations . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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