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by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | November 24, 2014

Diplomat Resort and SpaWeeks after dropping the Westin name and becoming part of Hilton's newest brand, Curio–A Collection by Hilton (www.curiocollection.com), the 998-room Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Fla., last month became the first property to have its entire sales team certified by Cvent's Supplier Professional Certification Program (www.cvent.com). The Hotel Insider caught up with Jim Curtis, director of sales and marketing for the resort, to find out the impetus behind the group's drive for the new certification.

"When I attended Cvent's Group Business Forum in April, I sat through the certification process and actually took the exam myself. It was really challenging, and I wondered if I would even pass," says Curtis. "But I was also thinking at the time how beneficial it would be to get my entire team certified." When Curtis got the news he had indeed passed and was now one of the 70 suppliers certified during that initial process, he immediately called up Tysons Corner, Va.-based Cvent and told them he wanted his sales staff on board as well.

One might well ask: What makes this certification so important? After all, this was already a top-notch sales team that, in working for a former Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (www.starwoodhotels.com) property, had already gone through rigorous in-house training and had a well-established presence in the group market. Actually, 75 percent of the Diplomat's business is group-generated. According to Curtis, the RFP process has become so intense that the training his team of 12 received on how to put together a winning response, leveraging Cvent's special features, was priceless. "It has absolutely given my team more confidence," says Curtis, who adds that the big takeaway was how thorough an RFP needs to be — not the speed of the response — to stand out from the pack. "When a planner is comparing, say, three properties side-by-side, they don't want to see any holes. They want to see what the entire end product looks like. Having the certification makes you stand out as a true professional."

The Diplomat, which features 200,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 50,000-square-foot Great Hall, is slated to undergo a $100 million renovation over the next two to three years. And while no start date or details have yet been released, according to Curtis the renovation will target an overhaul of the spa and all food-and-beverage operations, as well as an enhancement of the guest rooms.