HSMAI president traded career in theater for hospitality leadership

Above: Rochelle Barton, director of event sales for Topgolf Gilbert, is president of the Arizona Chapter of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI). Business News | 2 Apr, 2018 |

Who better to command the helm of the Arizona Chapter of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) than a self-driven, ambitious, mother of four (including an 8-month-old) with a deep-rooted history in hospitality sales and marketing than Rochelle Barton?

In addition to serving as HSMAI’s Arizona chapter president, Barton is the director of event sales for Topgolf Gilbert and is always at the ready for a new challenge.

Az Business talks with Barton to find out what makes this local mover and shaker an inspiration and valuable leader to HSMAI members and professionals within the industry.

Az Business: What led to you becoming HSMAI’s Arizona Chapter president?

Rochelle Barton:
I began my career in hospitality with the Hard Rock Café in New York City, Times Square. Talk about being thrown into the deep end without water wings. It was an incredible experience and a spark was lit for an industry that I had not previously considered. At the time, I was pursuing a professional career in theatre and was in-between shows. What started as a temporary solution to survive in New York City, became a very fulfilling career. I stayed with Hard Rock Café for a little more than 12 years in New York, as well as Phoenix. We moved to Arizona for my husband to further his career with Major League Baseball.

After our move, I began attending various local networking meetings and researching professional organizations within the industry. I soon discovered HSMAI, which not only offers monthly networking opportunities, but also provides outstanding educational resources. I quickly jumped in full force by volunteering as a committee member and ultimately into various roles on the leadership team. I never would have imagined that eight years after joining HSMAI, I would be serving as president. Through my various connections with HSMAI, as well as the local chapter of Meeting Professionals International, I was able to land my current role as director of sales for Topgolf Gilbert and I have been with them for the last 3 years.

AB: How has HSMAI impacted your career?

RB: Throughout my journey, HSMAI has provided a resource for connecting me with other professionals in sales and marketing through a worldwide network. I have had the opportunity to participate in the Mike Leven Leadership Conference a couple of times, as well as local market conferences. The HSMAI Arizona chapter has given me the motivation to further my education in revenue management, as well as the digital marketing platform. I learn something new on a regular basis — either through monthly educational meetings or online with podcasts and the knowledge center. I hope to continue and grow with Topgolf and having HSMAI as a constant resource will be a contributing factor to that growth.

AB: How is HSMAI instrumental in attracting new meetings, events and conventions to Arizona?

RB: HSMAI has always been a leader in hospitality sales and marketing by identifying the hottest trends and communicating with its members. With a foundation that began in 1927, the organization has endured the test of time and brings 90 years of innovation and progression to an ever-evolving industry. Here in the Valley, HSMAI is celebrating 50 years of educating local industry leaders on what’s new and what will set Arizona apart for meetings and conventions. Of course it helps to live in a paradise of year-round options.

AB: What issues or trends will have the biggest impact on your industry in the coming year or two?

RB: As the world continues to move in such a fast-paced digital direction, I definitely see discussions centering around how those advancements will affect the hospitality industry in sales, marketing and revenue management. I know HSMAI is committed to staying on top of those advancements and offering educational resources to stay ahead of the game. HSMAI was the first organization to offer professional certification in digital marketing with the Certified Hospitality Digital Marketer, or CHDM.

With any large gathering, I know safety is of utmost importance and I see this topic having a presence and being addressed throughout the year.  That’s part of what I love about HSMAI – the organization is not afraid to tackle the difficult and sometimes sensitive subjects that we all want to talk about, but may not know how to start the conversation.

AB: What are you most looking forward to in your role as the local HSMAI president?

RB: Over the last eight years, I have had the opportunity to build lasting relationships in the hospitality industry and I look forward to not only strengthening those relationships, but getting to know more of the 250 total members in our local chapter. I am also looking forward to leading a stellar team in an industry that I’m passionate about.

AB: What are some of the challenges?

RB: As a busy mom of four children ranging in age from 8 months old to 10 years old, that’s always my biggest challenge. I hope, however, that by serving in this capacity, not only will I discover new ways to share experiences of how to manage work-life balance, but that I’ll also have the opportunity to set a positive and encouraging example for other working mothers in the industry.

AB: In addition to your role as HSMAI president, if you were gifted one superpower, what would it be?

RB: I’m a healer by nature and I think if I could have any superpower, that would be it. If anyone around me is hurting, my first instinct is to take away that pain. I know that once people found out about it, I might never get a moment’s rest, but I’m a people person, so bring it on.

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