Terri Russell has been interested in hospitality and tourism since high school. After graduating from the BCIT Tourism and Hospitality program in Vancouver, her career began onboard cruise ships and then to a variety of hotels sales and operation positions. She spent more than a decade involved with global sales for Starwood Hotels before becoming director, global accounts, for Omni Hotels and Resorts in 2017.
Making connections and creating memorable experiences for others has made for a rewarding career.
“When you have the opportunity to showcase a hotel or destination that a client was never familiar with or aware of and they end up booking that location because of your knowledge and expertise it’s a great feeling,” she says.
Russell is also active in the industry. She is a mentor and has served on different committees for Meetings Professionals International (MPI) over the years. She is currently the MPI BC chapter president and says the biggest challenge for members is time.
“We see that members feel time crunched. Trying to fit in all aspects of their job, home life and trying to find time to attend MPI events and programs. So many last minute situations that cause a change in plans or budgets. Trying to balance it all and making time for their professional growth is a challenge,” says Russell.
Last year marked MPI BC’s 35th anniversary. Over the past three decades, MPI BC members have championed many notable global events such as the Winter Olympics and the TED Conferences, in addition to industry events like MPI Global’s World Education Conference and the PCMA Convening Leaders Conference.
What types of training/education has been helpful for you?
I graduated from BCIT Hospitality and Tourism program that was targeted to the industry, that was definitely a launching pad to open up many avenues. Since then, getting my CMP, attending many hotel branded strategic sales courses, and being involved in MPI has given me a solid foundation of knowledge, skills and perspectives that have aided in my professional journey. By being involved in associations like MPI I keep in touch with the latest trends, development and best practices in the industry.
What are some of your biggest achievements?
I am proud to say that I have won prestigious sales award from three different brands over a span of two decades, celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary this October and having two sons in university, one that graduates from McGill in May!
What advice/tips would you offer others entering the industry?
Be curious, ask questions, be observant of all areas of the operation. The more knowledge you have of the entire operation you’ll be a better sales person and leader. Don’t be afraid to be creative and bold!
How is industry doing/outlook? The outlook is strong for in-person events and there is still a need for occasional hybrid or virtual programs as well. Especially for a chapter like ours that is very spread out, it’s nice to offer a few virtual programs for those that are in remote parts of the province. Factors such as time of the day and location are also important to the success of the program. There needs to be a solid reason to attend a program or events, content, networking and event concept are key factors to a decision.