58 episodes

By sharing our stories we can find better solutions. Join us in The Room Block to hear conversations with compelling professionals from the world of events and hospitality. Guests share unique perspectives on their journeys, inspirations, and challenges so you can gain insight into different facets of the industry. Hosted by Jen Salerno, who has spent the last 20 years working in various positions from hotels to housing bureaus, learning along the way that the more we understand each other, the more we can achieve together.

The Room Block Jen Salerno

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 30 Ratings

By sharing our stories we can find better solutions. Join us in The Room Block to hear conversations with compelling professionals from the world of events and hospitality. Guests share unique perspectives on their journeys, inspirations, and challenges so you can gain insight into different facets of the industry. Hosted by Jen Salerno, who has spent the last 20 years working in various positions from hotels to housing bureaus, learning along the way that the more we understand each other, the more we can achieve together.

    Taking the Fear out of Team Building, with Matt May

    Taking the Fear out of Team Building, with Matt May

    What makes a team building session engaging, interactive, and fun for everyone? We know that "teamwork makes the dream work" but all too often, team building activities can cause hesitation, anxiety or feel like a waste of time. In this episode I am joined by Matt May, founder and CEO of Premier Team Building & Interactive Experiences™, who shares why effective team building is so beneficial, especially in today's remote-work world. Tune in to hear what led Matt into this unique line of work, learn some team building dos and dont’s, and discover why hiring a professional is your key to a successful experience. 
    After several years producing and facilitating corporate team building programs for a variety of companies throughout the USA, Mexico, and Canada, Matt May recognized that there was an alternate way to provide individuals and corporations with engaging, interactive experiences. As a result, he created Premier Team Building & Interactive Experiences™, in 2017, delivering programs nation-wide, and abroad. As the company’s president, he is responsible for the design & development of its team building and interactive experiences, overseeing the production and facilitation of these programs, customer support, and staff training.
    In addition to having produced and facilitated hundreds of large and small-group team building experiences, in his career, May has served as a producer, director, manager, administrator, educator, and consultant for various event and live entertainment, theatrical, and educational organizations.
    Matt is the co-author/producer of the award-winning theatrical musical comedy DIEGO & DREW SAY I DO. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Theatre Arts and Arts Administration, and a Master of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Arts.
    A sought-after speaker and published author, Matt excitedly shares his passions and experiences in his book, Take The Fear Out Of Team Building.

    • 36 min
    Adding Your Single Coworkers to the Inclusivity Discussion, with Colleen Brzozowski

    Adding Your Single Coworkers to the Inclusivity Discussion, with Colleen Brzozowski

    Do single employees get the short end of the stick when it comes to office policies and politics? In her second visit to The Room Block, Colleen Brzozowski joins me to share her experience as a single in the workplace and explains why it led her to develop and present a talk on the subject for the 2022 SITE Global Conference in Dublin, Ireland. Whatever age or stage of life you're at, being single creates some unique situations that should be considered in the workplace as well as in the world of business and incentive travel. As we continue to focus our efforts on being more inclusive in today's world, be sure to keep in mind this large and growing segment of the employee population when it comes to boosting job satisfaction, retention and mental wellness.

    Colleen Brzozowski, CIS, CITP has 25+ years of experience in the hospitality industry, and is currently Director of Venue Sales with Sodexho Live! overseeing the Sales Teams at the Museum of Science & Industry, Shedd Aquarium, and the Chicago Botanic Garden. Past positions have included on-property as well as Global Sales positions for Hotel companies as well as Representation Firms and National Sales for a DMC organization. She values engagement in industry associations and has held several key leadership positions including the International Board of Directors for SITE (Society for Incentive Travel Excellence), 2020 President of SITE Chicago and Chair of the HPAC (Hospitality Partner Advisory Council) for FICP (Financial and Insurance Conference Planners).

    The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) is the only Business Events association dedicated exclusively to the global incentive travel industry. SITE has 2500+ members in 90 countries with 29 local chapters. The SITE Global Conference that took place in April 2022 in Dublin, Ireland featured the breakout session presented by Colleen Brzozowski, "Table for One -  Why the Diversity and Inclusive Discussion Should Include Singles in the Workplace."

    • 39 min
    Exploring Experiential Design, with Mallory Gott

    Exploring Experiential Design, with Mallory Gott

    What is experiential design and how can it help the events and hospitality industry? In this episode of The Room Block I am joined by Mallory Gott, Owner and Creative Director of G + A, An Experiential Design Firm which helps transform clients such as restaurants, bars, and other boutique hospitality event and brand experiences through their feelings-led 4D Framework™.  Mal explains how experiential design helps your customers develop an emotional connection to your brands and businesses, as well as uncover solutions to challenges big and small. If you haven’t yet considered what you want it to feel like for your customers to experience your brand, then Mallory Gott is here to guide the way.

    After years designing experiences of all kinds (events, conferences, trade shows, learning programs, pop-ups, training, and more) for some of the world’s most discerning audiences, Mallory Gott, founder + creative director of G+A, realized that her approach – identifying the feelings she wanted an experience to evoke and then reverse-engineering those feelings through intentional design of each facet of the experience – was anything but typical. From her unorthodox style, The 4D Framework™ was born and Mallory began guiding clients through the experience design thinking process, salvaging events, products, and services that seemed beyond help.

    By focusing on emotion and desire first, working solutions instead of solving problems, and emphasizing intuitively-based decision making over a data-or-die mentality, G+A quickly amassed a portfolio of experiential design success stories helping client after client rediscover their innate magic to fantastic results and resounding success!

    Read about how to apply G + A's 4D Framework™ to find a solution to any challenge by checking out this blog post.

    Learn more about The Great Las Vegas Coffee Shop Giveaway.

    • 51 min
    Introducing JTS Connect, with guest host Courtney Stanley

    Introducing JTS Connect, with guest host Courtney Stanley

    In this role-reversal episode of The Room Block I've invited Courtney Stanley of Courtney Stanley Consulting, LLC to help me officially launch and share exciting updates about my new venture, JTS Connect, LLC. Courtney takes the reins as guest host to interview me for the full story behind JTS Connect, as well as chat about how meaningful conversations can change the world and why being your own boss is so challenging yet so rewarding at the same time. Tune in to learn about what I've been up to, and how Courtney has been a guiding light as I continue down my new path. 

    Jen Salerno, CMP, DES is the owner of JTS Connect, LLC, which provides emcee, moderation and facilitation services for live, virtual and hybrid events, as well as podcast hosting and consultation. She is also host of The Room Block, the podcast where hospitality and event professionals meet. Jen is passionate about the way meetings and events can positively impact the world, and is ready to connect your team or audience with ideas that inspire action.

    Jen spent over 20 years in various facets of the hospitality & events industry and has worked with and consulted for several major hotel brands, meeting professionals and event organizers. Through this experience, Jen has the ability to understand the different priorities of her customers and brings extensive knowledge of the industry to help achieve them. Jen’s hospitable background enables her to engage with any guest or audience in a genuine, authentic way, building a sense of community within your organization or event. 

    Jen continues to partner with key event industry organizations such as the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and is an active volunteer with the Greater Midwest Chapter. She is also a proud associate of conferenceemcees.com.

    Courtney Stanley of Courtney Stanley Consulting, LLC is recognized globally as an award-winning changemaker, keynote speaker and event emcee, and acclaimed creator of the women-inspired podcast, Dare to Interrupt. With a background in experience design, leadership studies and business hospitality, Courtney helps ambitious professionals from all walks of life lean fiercely into the power of leading with empathy, advocating for themselves and others, and seizing “silver lining” opportunities to grow personally and professionally.

    Courtney is the youngest member to have ever been elected to Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) International Board of Directors. She is the recipient of Smart Meetings’ 2020 Women in Events Entrepreneur Award, Meetings Today’s 2019 & 2020 Trendsetter Award, MeetingsNet’s 2019 Changemaker Award, the Association for Women in Events (AWE) 2018 Disruptor Award, the 2015 MPI Chairman’s Award and 2011 MPI RISE Award, named Collaborate and Connect Magazine’s 40 under 40 in 2011, and is recognized as one of the event industry’s most impactful change-makers. Courtney serves on the Events Industry Sexual Harassment Task Force, MPI’s Women’s Advisory Board, is a Meetings Mean Business Ambassador and is the co-founder of the award-winning movement, #MeetingsToo.

    You can find Courtney on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @courtneyonstage and Linkedin at www.linkedin.com/in/courtneystanley

    Learn more by visiting www.courtney-stanley.com

    Referenced in episode:

    Keri Kelly of Keri Kelly Photography

    David Kliman of The Kliman Group

    Judi Holler and the Yes, And Podcast


    • 35 min
    Using Data Insights to Enhance Your Impact, with Steve Gabourel

    Using Data Insights to Enhance Your Impact, with Steve Gabourel

    Are you using data in a way that drives maximum impact for your organization?

    Most of us are aware that data is something to collect and analyze, and that it can guide us towards making the right decisions. To Steve Gabourel, Principal Investigator of SG Insights, however, data is a science and an art. After years of consulting for organizations that hold annual meetings he sees data as a way to communicate with and serve those who matter the most to your business - your community of employees, attendees, guests and members. After listening to this episode you'll find that some of the biggest questions and challenges your organization faces can be solved by taking the first, or next, step of your data journey. 

    Stephen Gabourel is a social science professional specializing in mixed methods research to provide quantitative and qualitative insights. 

    His work with associations and participation in the strategic evaluation process of their meetings and events has given him the opportunity to navigate and enrich his knowledge of dozens of industries and sectors.

    Stephen is the Principal Investigator and Founder of SG Insights (SGi), a business formed to help empower organizations with data to drive decision-making processes which help them grow, prosper, and enhance the impacts they make in their respective communities or industries.

    When he is not working you might find him spending time at the beach, hanging with family, traveling, or doing anything else to learn, strategize, or create. 

    Learn more at sginsights.net. 

    The Room Block can also be found on Hospitality.FM. 

    • 43 min
    Game-Changing Hospitality Through Gratitude, with Neil DeGuia

    Game-Changing Hospitality Through Gratitude, with Neil DeGuia

    Why is it important for a hotel general manager to practice gratitude? The recovery of our industry depends on it. Despite the many challenges that've plagued the hospitality industry over the last 2 years and into today, Neil DeGuia, Complex General Manager and Chief Enthusiast of the Hilton Garden Inn and Canopy by Hilton Chicago Central Loop greets each day with optimism, resilience, and confidence that he can guide his team through anything that comes their way. He can do this because he's chosen to learn from and be thankful for every opportunity and challenge that he’s encountered. Supported by the team at Aimbridge Hospitality for the last 19 years, Neil's story reminds us why the hospitality industry is worth fighting for and shows us how gratitude is a powerful game changer.

    About Neil DeGuia: A native of the Chicagoland suburb of Schaumburg, Neil DeGuia’s passion for hospitality is unparalleled and has bloomed over two decades in key roles including General Manager of the Hyatt Regency Deerfield, General Manager of the Embassy Suites by Hilton Chicago Lombard Oak Brook, and the General Manager at Aloft - Chicago O’Hare. For his efforts and ingenuity in providing an unmatched experience, DeGuia’s talent has shined in his work and as such, he has been named a nominee of Hotel Management Magazine “GM to Watch”, as well as a nominee for Aimbridge Hospitality’s GM of the Year three times over. DeGuia has brought his infectious warmth and vast experience to his new role as the Complex General Manager of the Canopy and Hilton Garden Chicago Central Loop Hotel, which opened in 2021.  He has been with Aimbridge Hospitality, the largest 3rd party hotel operator in the country for 19 years and is currently on his 9th project with the company.

    Connect with Neil on LinkedIn or via email at neil.deguia@hilton.com.


    IG: @canopychiloop and @hgichiloop

    • 38 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
30 Ratings

30 Ratings

mmfl03 ,

a MUST for events

Jen is terrific! As a host, she is engaging, insightful, and incredibly hospitable toward her guests. The variety of guests and topics is terrific! Yes, the podcast was created for event and hospitality personnel, but the majority of the topics are applicable to any and all industries, as well as individuals’ lives. “Brava” to Jen and her guests . . . thank you for the great content.

kn1ghter ,

Outstanding show!

This is a truly great show with diverse guests, interesting topics and engaging conversation. I really enjoy listening each week - it’s on my list of shows to never miss.

Tammia1 ,

Look forward too

Each week I look forward to listening to Jen’s podcast. I enjoy hearing the thoughts of others in our industry - we are fascinating😀a unique bunch.

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