Christine Ann Urbanozo-Ibarreta, who served as the president of Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) for two terms, passed away last Friday (July 2) after two months of battling Covid-19. She was 54.
Well-loved, bubbly and irrepressibly witty, Christine was “the agile leader when the pandemic struck and guided the hotels to pursue available businesses, while serving as the conduit between government agencies and industry committees,” shared former HSMA president Rose H Libongco.
“Christine braved calling on the market contacts of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Philippine Airlines and other airlines, and medical and business frontliners. That’s how she caught the virus,” Libongco shared.
To help hotels and resorts to stay afloat, Christine rallied all members during this pandemic to optimise alternative market segments such as the business process outsourcing, overseas Filipino workers, and returning overseas Filipinos, said HSMA chair Margie F. Munsayac.
“She continuously worked with government agencies so that guidelines and protocols are cascaded to all members to ensure that hotels and resorts can guarantee a safe stay for all guests,” Munsayac added.
Describing Christine as “truly a lifeline for hotels and travel”, Libongco said HSMA’s annual Virtus Award recognising industry exemplars was Christine’s idea. In addition to leading HSMA members in organising sales webinars, as well as marketing and promotions to keep hotels top-of-mind, Christine also started a Facebook marketplace during the pandemic for displaced industry employees to earn an income.
Christine also sat on the board of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines and had worked in various capacities in sales and marketing for many hotels, including Resorts World Manila, Sofitel Philippine Plaza, and most recently, as group director of sales and marketing at Golden Phoenix Hotel.