I first met Trina Hendry when she ran the PR for the LCBO in Toronto, Canada. She was often hosting cool wine tasting and blogger events that our paths crossed a few times.
However, it was only when she moved to Los Angeles about a year after I moved, did we really connect. I truly admire Trina’s skill as a communicator and writer. If you’re considering a career in PR or hospitality, Trina’s professional journey is a great one to follow. Meet Trina Hendry everyone! Here’s how she got her start:
How did you decide on a career in hospitality marketing?
I didn’t decide, actually. I accidentally fell into it, and thankfully so. I began my marketing communications career promoting pharmaceutical drugs, with my first job being to launch Viagra in Canada! That’s still my biggest claim to fame, and it is an award-winning one.
A few years later, I saw a job ad for Corporate PR Director of a luxury hotel group and thought it sounded fun so I applied, never expecting to actually get the job. It completely changed my life. I had found my passion and fell completely in love with food, wine, travel and tourism, which was another surprise because I grew up in a small town, was very picky about food and was not presented with many travel opportunities growing up.
I honestly can’t imagine working in any other industry.
Tell us more about your role as Corporate PR Director of Metropolitan Hotels.
Best. Job. Ever! Reporting directly to the president, my job was to communicate the stories and happenings of the three hotels, their five restaurants, and a catering division to the media. This meant a lot of wining and dining in the restaurants, hosting media from all over the world in the hotels, organizing events and forming partnerships with like-minded businesses in Toronto and Vancouver, where the hotels were located.
During my time there, I organized the media launch the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel, Toronto’s first luxury boutique hotel, planned three Toronto International Film Festival parties, hosted the first (and second) James Beard Dinners in Canada, opened a stand-alone Chinese restaurant, and led the charge in a partnership between Air Canada and Lai Wah Heen, the award-winning Cantonese restaurant located in what is now the former Metropolitan Hotel.
Because of this job, I was also able to learn about wine, earning Level I and II sommelier certification.
Which led you into the world of wine and beverage alcohol at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, right? Did you find the transition challenging?
The transition was very challenging, but not for the reasons you might think. In marketing communications, the skills are transferrable from industry to industry. It is the relationships you have with media that are the key to your success. Luckily, I had solid relationships already, having hosted the food and wine writers at the restaurants many times.
The challenge became that I was now working for a government agency that was accountable to the people of Ontario, and I had to find a way to do my job with a limited budget and specific regulations to follow. It really tested my ability to be creative and to maximize marketing opportunities. But, I managed to do some really fun and successful things while there so it was all worth it.
In addition to your marketing and PR career, you ran a successful food tour business in Toronto. How did you come up with the idea and what did you like most about the job?
Oh yes, Chowbella Taste & Travel. I dreamt up that idea while I was working at Met Hotels, helping the hotel plan various culinary packages for our guests. I noticed there was a gap in the Toronto market for culinary tourism offerings and hatched the idea to launch the city’s first food tour company.
Essentially, my job was to take tourists and locals alike on a walking tour of a certain neighbourhood and allow them to taste the culinary offerings in that area. I partnered with various restaurant and gourmet food shops – like a tea boutique, a chocolatier, a poutinerie, a patisserie…you get the idea – and brought customers to them.
My PR background really helped me get the company off the ground, as I was able to promote the business and my partners to all of the contacts I had formed relationships with during my days at the hotel and the LCBO. I even ended up on the cover of a magazine!
What is the name of the magazine and how did you end up there?
The magazine was called Dabble. It was an online publication that focused on food, travel and interior design and the editor in chief was Kimberley Seldon, a famous Canadian interior designer and TV personality.
As an expert on all things culinary in Toronto, Kimberley had asked me to write an article on the top places to dine in Toronto. It ended up being a 13-page spread and a cover!
Now you’re living and working in LA at the country’s leading hospitality marketing firm. How did you end up there?
I love, love, love California and have always wanted to spend an extended amount of time there. After I closed the chapter on Chowbella, I decided to go back to school to build upon my marketing and communications skill set.
I heard about a Marketing program at UCLA Extension that puts a special focus on digital and social media marketing and figured those skills would be the perfect complement to my current skills. Upon completion of the program, I was given the opportunity to gain U.S. work experience for one-year so I reached out to various companies in Los Angeles that specialize in hospitality and travel marketing.
I feel so lucky to be able to work on fun travel and tourism accounts, including the Alisal Guest Ranch Resort & Spa, a luxury dude ranch in Santa Barbara County, Beverly Hills Tourism, Hong Kong Airlines and Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, California.
What advice would you offer someone wanting to begin a career in marketing communications?
You don’t have to be the best at everything so long as you’re always doing your best.
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