Hamilton leads the sales and services organization for the Walt Disney World Resort in Central Florida, Disneyland Resort in Southern California and Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, in Hawaii. She also oversees National Sales offices in major cities across the U.S. Collectively her team of strategic sales and services professionals forges relationships with a wide range of organizations and produces an extensive array of meetings and events for associations, Fortune 100 companies, leisure groups and others. She is a recent recipient of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) prestigious Professional Achievement and recently talked with Visit Orlando about working your passion and the value of mentorship.
How did working in your father’s hotels in Miami Beach prepare you for your role today at Disney Destinations?
I started working with my father at his hotels in Miami Beach at the age of 10, so I literally grew up in the hospitality industry. He let me work in all different areas of the hotel from housekeeping to the front desk to night auditing. He always told me that these everyday tasks were crucial to understanding the end-to-end experience of a resort guest. I’ve taken his advice and knowledge about the real world and the hospitality industry and used it as the foundation for career and my time at Disney. Read more.
Not only did my father introduce me to the hospitality industry, he was my first mentor and life coach. When I graduated from college, dad gave me two pieces of advice that have always stayed with me. He said, “Whatever you decide to do, work hard and be passionate about it.” He also said, “There’s no end to your education – you should always be learning and surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you so that you can learn from them.” This advice and knowledge has brought me where I am today at Disney.
Because you’ve had experience mentoring and it’s a passion for you, what would you say to those that might want to mentor someone in their organization?
First and foremost, I would suggest getting to know your mentee. Make it a priority to understand their goals are and how you can meet those needs to help them further their career. Also remember to listen and soak up as much information from them as possible because mentors learn from mentees just as much. The biggest surprise for me is that I’ve gotten so much more out of mentoring than I’ve invested in it.
I often tell friends or colleagues considering mentoring to, “Be Four”… Be on the lookout. Be committed. Be transparent. Be yourself. It’s really about finding the right mentoring relationship. Sometimes it will fall into your lap, but more often you have to be open and perceptive. The other ‘be’s’ are all rooted in the fact that you are dealing with someone’s career. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is knowledge that helps them grow their career and become a better person. And one of the greatest compliments you can receive is for someone to seek out your experience and trust you to help them further their career.
What do you say to meeting planners who have not brought a meeting to any of the Disney properties?
A meeting at a Disney destination is unlike any other. We offer more than 15 hotels with dedicated, world-class meeting and event venues. Each destination is home to award-winning accommodations, sophisticated nightlife and a wide variety of entertainment and recreation options. There is an array of exclusive benefits that we call Disney Differences, including award-winning creative resources, customized professional development content and private events in the Disney theme parks that enable planners to tap a single source to create an unforgettable meeting experience from beginning to end. All of it is delivered with Disney's legendary standard of excellence in creativity and service while being located at some of the world’s most sought after locales.
You’ve served on several boards and were just honored by PCMA. What is the importance of serving one’s industry?
By serving on different boards and through the communities of PCMA, MPI, ASAE and other organizations, I have met incredible mentors who guided me through every chapter of my career story. I would not be where I am today without these people. I’ve also learned so much from my associations with the world-class professionals who are part of this industry. Serving my industry has enriched my life and given me opportunities to pay things forward by working with our future leaders of tomorrow.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
As our industry is moving rapidly, I continue my journey of learning, and strategic positioning of our products and services in order to exceed the expectations of our Disney Meetings clients and their attendees. I also continue to personally develop my leadership and skills in order to continue to provide relevancy to my organization and value to my clients and colleagues.
Ten years from now may seem far down the road, but it feels like it just yesterday when I joined Disney. And that was 19 years ago. I'm excited that I work for such a dynamic company that continues to provide new opportunities for growth and challenges that leverage my expertise and skill set. I'm optimistic about the future and I see myself continuing to grow and learn which will in turn help me develop and mentor our emerging leaders as they continue to grow and develop in their careers
It is my wish that my legacy in this industry will be that I always strive to be a great leader to my organization and the industry at large. I also try every day to pay forward the mentoring and guidance that was done for me throughout my career.