Name: Mark Sergot
Title: Senior vice president, Global Sales
Company, city: IHG Hotels & Resorts; Atlanta, Georgia
First job: Guest service agent at a downtown Chicago convention hotel
Where to next: Cannes, to attend the International Luxury Travel Market
A LITTLE BIT MORE
What actor or actress would play you in a movie of your life?
Well, when I had hair, I looked like him more, but Tom Hanks. He really cares about history and seems compassionate.
What would you be doing professionally if you weren’t in your current industry?
I’d be a journalist in some capacity, either print, digital or broadcast.
What is your favorite book, movie or television show?
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is my favorite book. I’ve spent a lot of time in India, and this book is a great description of the country. At more than 500 pages, it is extraordinary, compelling and riveting.
What historical figure, dead or alive, would you love to have dinner with?
Mahatma Gandhi; he led an extraordinary life.
What is your most recent project, and what was the inspiration behind it?
Participating in the rollout of our new loyalty program, IHG One Rewards. Our focus on the individual and what matters to them as they travel is at the heart of IHG One Rewards. This is both inspiring and exciting, as we know personalization is a high priority for our guests. Members have choices on how they want to engage and can focus on their preferences, those things that are important to them. In addition, there’s greater opportunity for them to earn points. IHG One Rewards is a competitive and compelling program that offers refreshed and new options.
What is your favorite aspect of the job?
Connecting with colleagues and customers around the world. Learning about their markets, customs and culture is fascinating; enjoying the local food and beverage is even better!
What’s the biggest business risk you’ve ever taken?
Any time you reorganize a sales force there is always risk around relationship and revenue. Following a highly collaborative framework reduces this work, yet the process always produces a certain level of anxiety.
Who is someone you admire professionally in the travel industry?
Horst Schulze, of The Ritz- Carlton, and Isadore Sharp, of Four Seasons, were both pivotal in the creation of their respective brands, boasting exceptional attention to detail and building the foundation for a luxury travel experience. Chris Cahill, the former CEO of luxury brands at Accor, is the most passionate, humble and respectful leader in the business.
AS A TRAVELER
Tell us about a travel nightmare: Significant travel delays, of hours or days, are always nightmares. Quickly getting over it and utilizing the time to be productive is key.
Share a comical travel experience: I always laugh about a colleague whose foot/leg was in a cast, preventing her from wearing a shoe on that foot, yet she brought seven-plus “pairs” of shoes in her luggage that I had to carry on a weeklong trip. What is your preferred method of travel — planes, trains, automobiles, cruise ships — and why? Where possible, I prefer traveling via train. The ability to take in the journey, get work done and enjoy a nice meal is simply terrific.
What has been the best example of customer service you’ve experienced during your travels? Traveling through India showcased a passion for service like no other I’ve experienced. At every touchpoint there was a genuine, heartfelt welcome and desire to assist. India is a special place for a variety of reasons; service and attention to detail top the list.
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