Greater Philadelphia Chapter

L&OD SIG Event "Lessons on Employee Experience from the Hospitality Industry”

  • February 11, 2021
  • 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
  • Learning Delivered Right to your Desk!



The key focus for all of us in talent development is the employee We want to make sure they are given opportunities to learn and develop, as well as treated right and engaged; in other words, a positive employee experience. Studies have clearly shown that positive employee experience leads to better bottom line results. 

A great deal of attention has been paid to the customer experience, which also leads to better company performance. The hospitality industry certainly knows this and leads the way in creating a positive customer experience.

We are fortunate to have a panel of learning and development leaders in the hospitality industry who will share what they have learned and applied from the customer experience in creating a positive employee experience.

About our Panelists:

Gina Sweeney(Manager of Training & Development at Hershey Entertainment and Resorts)

Gina Sweeney is the Manager of Training & Development at Hershey Entertainment and Resorts. With over 20 years of training, facilitation, coaching, leadership, customer service, and employee development, Gina leads a team which is responsible for onboarding employees as well as developing leadership and professional development initiatives across the organization.

Prior to this role, she held the role of Manager, Learning and Organizational Development at Listrak. Her role included managing organization-wide initiatives ranging from onboarding to executive-level development. Gina also worked at Auntie Anne’s Inc. for nine years, where she led service-oriented Learning and Development programs that supported 100 corporate employees and 1500 domestic store locations.

Gina is an active member of National ATD. She holds a Bachelor of Science, Organizational Behavior/Applied Psychology from Albright College and achieved her Master of Science, Organizational Development and Leadership from Saint Joseph’s University in 2019.


Jessica Somple (Director of Organization Effectiveness for Hospitality at MGM Resorts International)

Jessica Somple is the Director of Organization Effectiveness for Hospitality at MGM Resorts International, one of the largest integrated resort operators worldwide (with properties such as MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Luxor, and Borgata).

In her role, Jessica works closely with senior leaders from corporate entities and property operations to develop and execute talent strategies that engage and develop hospitality employees. This has included a standardized onboarding process for all new and promoted leaders with corresponding tools and resources; a reimagined digital leadership training program for operations management; a talent discussion process for calibrating hospitality leadership talent company-wide; and a variety of employee training initiatives that have included guest service, resort/restaurant openings, and comprehensive health & safety training.

Prior to her role with MGM Resorts, Jessica was part of human resources team at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort. Jessica got her start in the hospitality industry through her time in food & beverage operations at The Mirage and Aria Resort & Casino.

Kevin Hostetter (Director of Training for Focus Brands – Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, and Jamba)

Kevin is the Director of Training for Auntie Anne’s, LLC based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Auntie Anne’s was founded by “Auntie” Anne Beiler on February 2, 1988, has the best tasting pretzels in the world, and is the #1 pretzel franchisor in the world with locations in 48 states and more than 25 countries!

He is responsible for the training programs offered at the Support Center in Lancaster and regionally across the country. In his role, Kevin has the privelege of working with a team of engaged and passionate leaders who strive to equip business owners, store managers, and team members for success with the Auntie Anne’s business.  The team carrys on the culture of focusing on people…as Auntie Anne would say, “We are in the people business, we just happen to sell pretzels.”

Kevin reports to the VP of Operations and works closely with the Operations Team, and has P&L responsibility for the 12 corporately owned Auntie Anne’s locations.  This provides an unique opportunity to be involved in the external guest-facing side of the business and helps the training programs and job aids to be even more effective.  

Kevin graduated from Millersville University with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration.  He has also completed MBA courses at Lebanon Valley College and is a Certified Hospitality Trainer.

Dan Kessler (President of Energage)

Dan Kessler

Dan Kessler is the President of Energage, the research partner for the Top Workplaces program. Previously, he was a Project Leader at The Boston Consulting Group where he specialized in organizational transformation, operations, and corporate development.

Dan has an MBA from The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania, was a Jane Addams Fellow at The Indiana University Center on Philanthropy, and has a degree in Public Policy from Duke University.

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