Vicki Poulos: Pushing the Hospitality Envelope

Vicki Poulos

In designing and developing Moxy Hotels, Vicki Poulos, senior brand director for the flag, has challenged conventional hospitality practices and created something unique. Poulos discusses her career and dispenses advice for hospitality hopefuls.

How did you get your start in hospitality?
My very first job in the hospitality industry was at the Drake Hotel in Chicago, where I was their marketing and public relations manager. During my tenure with Marriott International, my time in brand management has allowed me to play a critical role in all of the areas essential for experiential brand-building: marketing, design, real estate development, operations, talent, and culture.

What was your biggest takeaway from working on the Moxy brand?
It takes guts to quickly build a brand with staying power and to make the tough, and sometimes seemingly irrational decisions, for the long-term viability of the brand and each unique hotel within. Through my role with Moxy, I’ve learned it is okay and sometimes necessary to challenge the accepted standards of people who have been in the industry for a long time. This is the kind of internal debate that allows you to achieve creative growth in different ways.

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What do you enjoy most about your current position?
Building the brand DNA, developing the experience, and helping people fall in love with the vision across 10 different countries and three continents is extremely fulfilling. I am truly energized by the process of convincing various stakeholders to take that leap of faith in a brand like Moxy. This is not always easy to do with a polarizing brand that is just starting out. From persuading owners to build their first Moxy hotel to getting internal stakeholders to push the boundaries on a lobby design or marketing campaign, I never stop pushing to achieve our goal of creating deep and long-lasting relationships with the promiscuous and highly skeptical consumers of today.

What’s next for you?
I find motivation in creating something so new that it is capable of invoking both shock and delight; whether it’s a product, approach to service, or business model, it is an opportunity to create, even if I have no idea what the finished product will be. Anything that has the potential for unprecedented success, with a risk of failure, gets my heart and creativity pumping. As long as my next role embodies that type of purpose, that’s where I see myself continuing to progress in my career.

What advice do you have for people who want to get into the hospitality industry?
I think hospitality runs in your blood—you discover it early on in your life and quickly become obsessed with it. To truly succeed in this industry, you have to love people, travel, and crave for the opportunity to learn and immerse yourself in different cultures. So get out there, see the world, meet new people, and discover new places, food, and design. If it’s in your blood, you will soon be overwhelmed by the desire to share and create amazing experiences for others.