Earlier this month, industry veteran Michael Dominguez stepped down from his role as senior vice president and chief sales officer at MGM Resorts International to become president and CEO at Associated Luxury Hotels International, a global sales organization dedicated to the MICE market. As when any bigwig in hospitality makes a major career change, people can’t help but wonder why. Dominguez took some time out of his first week at the new job to chat with us about why he left MGM and his hopes for ALHI under his leadership.
You served MGM for the past seven years. Was it time for something new?
I wasn't looking for an opportunity, the opportunity came to me… [ALHI’s] chairman of the board had a lot of conversations with our members and our customers. When he asked for input and thoughts, my name came up frequently. He sat down and we started to have a conversation.
Why did ALHI pique your interest?
There are only two things that MGM could never offer me, or at least in the future, and that is: one, to be a CEO, which is a great opportunity that is hard to turn down. And second, [at ALHI] I have the ability to live where I actually live, and office wherever I want to office. MGM didn’t allow me that opportunity, unfortunately.
What factors went into your decision to leave MGM?
The biggest driver for this opportunity for me is very personal… My plan is to move to Dallas to get closer to my parents who are in San Antonio. This will allow me to be a 45-minute flight away to be able to see my mother often. My mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's a year ago… I want to be able to spend as much quality time with her before the disease progresses.
How did MGM prepare you to become CEO at ALHI?
When I left Loews to go to MGM, one of my global sales directors told me, "Everything in your career has led you to this next step." And I firmly believe that's the same with MGM. My entire career, I tried to have a broad-based experience and broad-based perspective. I've worked with independent hotels. I've worked with chains and corporations. I was a VP of a convention and visitors authority, so I had to sell a destination for some time… I have this broad perspective of the industry, and MGM provided that for me.
What can customers expect from ALHI under your leadership?
I see ALHI as an internal and external customer: Our internal customer is all of our member hotels, and the responsibility we have to them as a global sales organization. Our external customers are our meeting professional community and what they're trying to deliver every day. I want to bring my experience and my visibility in the industry to benefit both the internal and external customers… I expect not only the ALHI team, but myself, to be highly engaged and highly visible with our customers, and with our member hotels.
What is your mission and hope for ALHI for the future?
A higher hope for me is that ALHI becomes very visible in the industry issues and being a part of that solution as the industry is trying to solve problems. I do think, and I've said this often, that we are stronger together as an industry than we ever will be apart. I expect for ALHI to have a larger voice and leadership presence, and making sure that we are helping drive that dialogue.