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David W. Giger
Senior Director – Sales & Industry Relations
In Washington the saying goes, “If you’ve been here two years, you’re native.” That standard certainly qualifies “Dave” Giger, who has worked for Hilton in DC for 35 years.
Giger is a constant force in the hospitality community in Washington, one of the most transient cities in the world. A son of Pittsburgh, he came to DC and never left, always working for Hilton, now in his 41st year with the company.
“Those in the association and meetings communities, whether here in Washington or across the country, who have worked with Dave have benefitted from one of the most respected and well-heeled hospitality partners in the nation. We congratulate Dave on being named Partner of the Year,” TRENDS publisher Joel Poznansky said.
Giger started his career with Hilton in Pittsburgh in sales, quickly rising to sales and marketing director at the Hilton Pittsburgh. After moving to DC, he obtained similar positions at the Capital Hilton and the Washington Hilton, D.C.’s second-largest hotel. He also served for eight of those years as sales director-worldwide accounts for Hilton Worldwide in Washington.
He was named Hilton’s National Salesperson of the Year in 1997, and then promoted to sales and industry relations director in 1999, and senior director in 2006. He has received many company awards, including induction to Hilton’s Circle of Excellence, a group of Hilton’s most accomplished sales executives, in 1997, 2007 and 2008.
In his current “hybrid” position, his combined duties include national account management, industry relations responsibilities and special projects. He represents Hilton’s many brands and more than 3,800 hotels around the world. This includes handling some of the largest association accounts, such as National Association of Home Builders, American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Cardiology. Some use more than 10,000 rooms a night for their annual meetings, Giger noted.
He is a 35-year active member of ASAE and Professional Convention Management Association, and continues to serve on many committees for both organizations. He is a co-founder of the Capital Chapter of PCMA, the organization’s largest chapter, as well as PCMA’s Annual Professional Achievement Awards Dinner. During most of his career he has also been an active member and officer in the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International, and was inducted into the HSMAI Washington DC Hall of Fame. He also is a member of AMPS.
A unique position
He started in his current position in 1999. At the time, the worldwide office in DC was going through changes, and he proposed components of his current role.
“I’m at a point in my career when I sometimes need more stimulation than just account management,” he said. Giger suggested his hybrid position of sales and industry relations, having previously managed sales teams on property. The company wanted both he and his wife Mary to play greater roles at Hilton, and the company took him up on his idea. (Mary began to manage a local sales team for Hilton, and now manages a larger team. She has been at Hilton for 29 years.)
“It’s a unique position. I like to be totally engaged in our industry,” he said, noting that he hasn’t missed a PCMA annual meeting in 32 years, and an ASAE annual meeting in 35 years. He also assists his supervisor, veteran industry professional Hilton SVP Larry Luteran, with industry initiatives.
And Giger believes in giving back to his industry. He loves mentoring, and has administered hospitality courses for the Hotel Association of Washington and Northern Virginia Community College.
Asked what he sees is the biggest difference today than when he started in the hospitality industry, he pointed to the growth in Hilton offerings. “We fortunately and dynamically have so much more product to represent to the client community. We now have almost 4,000 hotels. I’m proud of our enterprise's amazing growth and successes. We now have more rooms in the U.S. than any other hotel company. And our sales approach is now less transactional and more consultative” he said.
Contracts: More in-depth, more negotiation
On the account management side, he said, “the biggest change is that there is often a lot more client involvement with outsourcing to third parties. It can make the account management side more complex, requiring the need for multiple business partnerships and more parties involved in the contracting. But the end results are truly gratifying – often beneficial to more than two parties.”
Working with associations over the years, he said the process in acquiring business and contracting is also more complex. “Early in my career, contracts between hotel and customer were very simplistic....[Today] contracts are a lot more in depth, there is a lot more legal input, a lot more negotiation. That’s what I trust makes my position, and others with similar skills and knowledge, even more needed. I act as a liaison – the person assisting with bringing both sides together.”
For young meeting planners starting out in the association industry, “The best advice I can give: use all your resources and communicate. It will help you in the long run. As an example, use NSOs as well as CVBs. The [planners] that I think are successful and wise use all available resources, there are so many available.”
Giger will be honored at the annual TRENDS Salute to Association Excellence, Feb. 15 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, along with many other honorees, including the Association Executive of the Year.