FREDERICK, Md. — Michael Henningsen has spent more than three decades in the hotel business, working his way up to his current role as director of hotel operations at Plamondon Hospitality Partners.
“If you like this industry, you’re going to make a career of it. If you don’t like it, it’s going to burn you out,” he said. “It’s all about taking care of people.”
Henningsen has liked the industry enough to not only make a career of it, but to also become an evangelist of sorts. In a recent interview, he stressed the strength of relationships among hotel owners, the value of belonging to industry associations and the importance of working together to boost individual businesses and the entire industry.
Because of his contributions to the hospitality sector at state and local levels, Henningsen was named Maryland Hotelier of the Year by the Maryland Hotel Lodging Association. The award, given in rare instances, was presented at the organization’s 29th annual Stars of the Industry Awards at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Rockville, Md.
Amy Rohrer, the association’s president and chief executive officer, said she could recall only one other person receiving the award in the 12 years that she has been associated with the organization.
“I was actually quite shocked,” Henningsen said about receiving the honor.
Henningsen, current association chair, has contributed to the organization in a variety of roles, from boosting attendance at an annual golf fundraiser to speaking out about training and staffing issues. He seemed puzzled that hotels wouldn’t be active in industry associations and other groups, where they can share best practices, have input into policy and bring up issues of concern.
“I see other hotels that are missing that opportunity,” he said.
Henningsen, 59, a native of Rye, N.Y., has worked in the hospitality industry for 35 years, including the past 19 years at Plamondon, which is based in Frederick, Md.
Peter Plamondon, co-president of Plamondon Hospitality, said Henningsen is respected by his peers, direct reports and the lodging and tourism communities.
“Mike has been a driving force in our company’s growth since 1999, and it is a great privilege to work with him each day,” Plamondon said.
Henningsen is the past president and current board treasurer for the Tourism Council of Frederick County, and is a former board member for the Weinberg Center for the Arts, also in Frederick. Plamondon Hospitality Partners frequently hosts blood drives for the American Red Cross, and Henningsen, a former chairman of the board for the Red Cross in Frederick, has always been a part of them.
John Fieseler, executive director of the Tourism Council of Frederick County, attended the association’s ceremony and was on stage to present the award.
“The Frederick community has greatly benefitted from Mike’s commitment and passion, and he has helped raise the bar for the local lodging industry,” Fieseler said.