Acorns 2020: Manuel Martínez-Infante, 29
Director of events and sales, Park Plaza London Riverbank
Nominator Brett Hercock
Argentinian-born Manuel Martínez-Infante has always been passionate about hotels – so much so that he took a master's degree in hotel management. Since his first commercial role as Christmas co-ordinator with Hilton in 2015, he has gone on to be promoted four times in three years – from executive, to manager, to senior manager, and finally to head of department responsible for a budget of up to £18m. Since his Acorn win, he has been promoted to director of events and sales at the Park Plaza London Riverbank, where he manages a team of nine and oversees a £6.75m turnover.
He also introduced a new sales strategy for the hotel, which secured its busiest January on record, with meetings and events revenues up by 148% compared with 2018, and a highest ever forward M&E revenue of £3m booked in for 2020 by the end of 2019; the pre-pandemic pace was up by 55% year on year.
Do you think the hospitality industry could be more sustainable? Not just in terms of plastics and waste but in terms of careers and diversity, training and growth?
Yes, I believe an increased understanding of mental health would foster a more open working environment, which would ultimately lead to both – happier teams and growth. A lot of good things are happening in this area – PPHE Hotel Group has introduced several workshops on mental health, for example, although more action may be required when adjusting to the post-lockdown new normal.
Who is your hospitality hero?
Rob Flinter, our general manager at Park Plaza London Riverbank. Rob has been the most inspiring leader that I have had during my career so far. He is entirely authentic, results-driven, and cares about mental health.