The Main Event
Elizabeth Agar has successfully navigated a variety of opportunities over the years, and she has embraced everything she has learned along the way to her current career as the director of sales and marketing at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg.
All of those experiences taught her the importance of being willing to change, and she credits much of her success to learning that lesson.
“You must be open, fluid, and accepting that there can always be a new, more effective way to accomplish something,” she said.
Agar was born in Boiling Springs, where she currently lives with her young son. She attended college at the American Musical & Dramatic Academy in New York City. During those years, she “performed in three national theater tours all over the United States,” she said.
“I then traveled cross country and lived in Los Angeles for four years before returning back to central Pennsylvania to be closer to my family.”
Her connection to the hospitality industry goes back to her college years in New York City, but it was the discovery of a private property called Felicita Resort in Harrisburg that really called to her after she moved back to Pennsylvania from Los Angeles.
“I fell in love … it had a four-tiered, Italian-themed garden to host weddings and events that was exquisite,” Agar said. “They just so happened to be looking for a sales manager at the time, and so began the event-and-hotel side of my career.”
When she left her position with Felicita, Agar moved into a catering manager position at the Radisson, later being promoted to director of catering for the convention center.
After a few years, she was presented with an opportunity to work at a corporate company that focused on marketing and decided it would be a good move.
“It was a wonderful experience that introduced me to many marketing and social media tools that are very helpful to me today,” she said.
Agar was offered her current position in June 2017, and she decided to take on the challenge.
Every day is different, and although her duties vary depending on the current business level on the property, Agar keeps busy handling sales appointments; working on forecasting, sales reports, and revenue meetings; and creating proposals, among many other responsibilities.
She enjoys working on events with the many chambers and organizations with which the Radisson is associated.
“The part I enjoy most is working with my staff and our clients,” she said. “We have the amazing opportunity to meet and interact with so many different people each day.”
Because the Radisson is such a large property, the events that are booked can range from small business meetings to family reunions and weddings to large-scale, multiday conventions.
“What makes it a good day is when we, along with the other departments on the property, execute a busy day with multiple functions, meals, room turns, etc., and/or we land a new piece of business that we have been pursuing for a while,” noted Agar. “There is always lots of cheering on these days, and sometimes cake!”
Agar is quick to acknowledge that she could not do what the hotel does so well all on her own.
“I have a very strong staff that I rely heavily on,” she said. “We work very closely with all of our other departments to ensure guest satisfaction for the hotel and banquet facilities.”
Agar appreciates the many opportunities to network with others on a daily basis.
“There are so many fantastic men and women in this area, in all kinds of businesses … We are very involved with all of the local chambers that host weekly and monthly events and have met so many valuable contacts,” Agar said.
Giving back to the community is important to Agar, and she is grateful to have so many resources readily available there on the property to help make that happen. She and her staff are involved with the Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, and other nonprofits that hold their events at the Radisson.
“We do our best to work within their budgets and always donate to their silent auctions,” she said. Her sales team has created a “Thanks for Giving” campaign where each manager chooses an organization to focus on, raising awareness, collecting monetary donations, and filling other needs of each organization.
Each holiday season, Agar is proud to co-sponsor a fundraiser called the “Parade of Trees” with Highmark Caring Place, where money is raised for children who have lost a loved one.
“Companies in the area sponsor a tree that gets decorated and displayed at our property, which is usually between 20-25 trees,” she said. “Guests can then come and walk the parade of trees and vote for their favorite ones.”
As she continues her work with the Radisson, Agar looks forward to the exciting developments that are always taking place in the hospitality industry. It is “always changing and being reinvented by trends, business needs, travel, budget limitations, etc.,” she said.
“I have learned that I will constantly be learning and growing, especially in this business.” BW