The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association (HSMAI) is pleased to announce the recipients of three prestigious sales awards. HSMAI will honor Cindy Novotny with its Lifetime Achievement Award in Sales. In addition, Kristi Griffith and Valerie Rios will be recognized as the HSMAI 2019 Sales Professionals of the Year. These honorees will be celebrated at the first-ever HSMAI Sales Leader Forum Awards Dinner on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, at the Westin Stonebriar Hotel & Golf Club in Frisco, Texas.

"HSMAI is proud to honor Cindy, Kristi, and Valerie for their outstanding sales performance and the significant impact they have had on hotel revenue throughout their careers," said Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, president and CEO of HSMAI. "We are thrilled to present the award for Lifetime Achievement in Sales and the Sales Professional of the Year Awards at HSMAI's inaugural Sales Leader Forum."

The HSMAI Americas Award for Lifetime Achievement in Sales honors sales professionals who have left an indelible mark on the sales discipline in the hospitality industry.

Cindy Novotny, managing partner, Master Connection Associates, will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement in Sales Award. Cindy is an icon in the hospitality industry. She is the original founder of MCA and is an internationally renowned leader in sales, leadership and customer service. Cindy has been recognized by the American Society of Training and Development as one of the most powerful, innovative and passionate speakers in the industry. She has become a mentor for executives around the world. Her ability to connect with senior executives and line employees has made MCA a leader in many industries. Cindy is responsible for the leadership of all MCA trainers, consultants and develops her team to go far beyond customers' expectations.

The HSMAI Americas Hotel Sales Professional of the Year Awards recognizes and promotes excellence in the field of sales in hotels and honor strong sales performance producing measurable results.

Kristi Griffith, corporate director of sales support at Prism Hotels & Resorts, will receive the Off-Property Sales Professional of the Year Award. Kristi brings over 30 years of experience to her role as corporate director of sales performance support for Prism Hotels & Resorts, the award-winning full-service hotel management, investment, and advisory services company. The hotel industry is in her blood, having previously worked for Omni, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, and Bristol Hotels & Resorts. Kristi also served as the first National Sales Director for the government market for Highgate Hotels. She joined Prism in 2011 as task force director, she brought her expertise to the company's Miami, Tampa, and Phoenix properties before being promoted to her current position.

Valerie Gold Rios, director of sales at IHG - Staybridge Suites Lake Buena Vista, will receive the On-Property Sales Professional of the Year Award. Valerie has been passionate about the hospitality industry since her first job at the Residence Inn (prior to Marriott) in 1985. After graduating from Arizona State University, Valerie moved to Orlando, Florida to embark on her journey in sales and marketing. Her love for customer service combined with her growing knowledge of the tourism market is a perfect fit. During her career, she has opened new hotels, held regional positions, mentored numerous associates, and has guided the sales efforts through hotel renovations.

Don't miss Cindy, Kristi, and Valerie's award recognition at HSMAI's Sales Award Dinner during HSMAI's first-ever Sales Leader Forum, an event that advances the hotel sales discipline by elevating the knowledge and skills of off-property sales leaders with new trends, critical insights, and best practices, and their application to leading hotel sales teams in today's landscape. Events for sales leaders continue throughout the week, including the HSMAI Chief Sales Officer Roundtable, HSMAI's Hotel Management Company Sales & Marketing Executive Roundtable. Visit to learn more.


The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) is committed to growing business for hotels and their partners and is the industry's leading advocate for intelligent, sustainable hotel revenue growth. The association provides hotel professionals and their partners with tools, insights, and expertise to fuel sales, inspire marketing, and optimize revenue through programs such as the Commercial Strategy Conference, Sales Leader Forum, and Adrian Awards. Founded in 1927, HSMAI is a membership organization comprising more than 5,000 members worldwide, with 40 chapters in the Americas Region. Connect with HSMAI at

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