12 People You Need to Know in 2012: Phill Burgess
Teaching Hammons' Way
Monday, December 19, 2011 11:03 AM
In what is his third stint with a John Q. Hammons company, Phill Burgess is charged with teaching a new generation of sales professionals and hotel managers about Hammons’ approach to business.
Interview date: Dec. 18
Position: Vice President of Sales and Revenue Management, John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts
Education: Bachelor’s in history, Eastern Kentucky University
Career: Executive director of Lifeway Bible Society, Lifeway Christian Resources; president and CEO, LearningSystem.com and The Burgess Group; vice president of sales and marketing, John Q. Hammons Hotels
Why you need to know Phill Burgess: He is responsible for perpetuating the John Q. Hammons culture at JQH Hotels in his third stint with a Hammons-owned company.
Since December 2010, Burgess has served as the vice president of sales and revenue management for Springfield-based John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts, which has 78 hotels, more than 9,000 employees and an operating budget of more than $800 million.
“On top of directing the sales and revenue aspect of our business, I’m creating an ongoing training program that includes the John Q. Hammons legacy and the values we embrace,” says Burgess, who was recruited back to the Hammons fold by CEO Jacquie Dowdy, the company’s leader since October 2010 when health issues forced Hammons to step down.
Unlike Burgess, many of the company’s employees had never met the company’s founder, and company veterans felt it was important to perpetuate Hammons’ business influence.
“In this economy, since it’s difficult to build new hotels, we had to ask ourselves, ‘Who do we want to be?’” Burgess says.
“The bottom line is it all comes back to leadership, and so a lot of my focus is leadership training and development.”
Burgess’ first stint with Hammons was in 1982, and he climbed his way to general manager with Winegardner & Hammons Inc., the precursor to John Q. Hammons Hotels.
He left in 1988 for a regional marketing position with Holiday Inns Inc., but apparently made a favorable impression on his former boss with a marketing speech at a Holiday Inn Conference.
Hammons, who hadn’t been taking Burgess’ calls since his departure, shared in the applause and told the crowd he taught Burgess everything he knows.
A couple years later, Hammons recruited Burgess for a second stint, helping to guide the company’s sales and marketing when it went public in 1995. After that, he left again, and spent the next 15 years as a hotel industry consultant and in the Christian publishing business.
Having recently battled testicular cancer, Burgess says his experiences with chemotherapy tested the advice he’s given to employees through the years.
Now, he’s using what he’s learned from Hammons and others to write a book – with the working title, “Big Blue Sky” – about having the right attitude to inspire excellence in service and sales.
“It gets back to being the best,” he says. “Being the best is difficult or everyone would be the best.”