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HT TALKS TECH: Sarah Fults, VP of Distribution, MGM Resorts International

Learn how Fults’ career trajectory influenced her leadership style, her love for mentoring and her desire to always stay in touch.
Sarah Fults
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During her freshman year of college, Sarah Fults took a job as a front desk agent at an airport hotel so she could make her rent payments. Shortly afterwards, her brother – who was working as a bellman at a luxury hotel called Gardiner’s Resort on Camelback – told her about an opening for a front desk agent at his hotel. She interviewed for and got the job and “that’s when I fell in love with the hospitality industry,” she says.

But it wasn’t until the following summer that her career within the hospitality industry would really begin.

“The hotel was installing a new property management system,” she explains, “and the vendor (Anasazi, Inc.) asked me to use it and provide feedback on how it was working. Afterwards, Anasazi (which eventually became Pegasus Systems, Inc. via a series of mergers and acquisitions) offered me a job to do quality assurance for its property management division, which I ended up taking (while still being a full-time college student). They trained me in doing QA between the interface of the PMS and the CRS, and I loved doing that. I loved my job!”

This love for the industry guided her career trajectory as she continued to hold various positions at a variety of solution providers that worked closely with the hospitality industry, including Interactive Sites (which specialized in building websites for hotels), Blue Square Studios (acquired by Travelclick), HBSI (acquired by IBS Software), and Hetras (which was acquired by Shiji Group). And then, about 15 years after her front desk job at Gardiner’s Resort, Fults once again became a hotel employee. First, she worked as Director, Global Distribution at Loews Hotels, then she went to Choice Hotels as Director of Third Party Distribution, and in 2016 she went to MGM as Vice President of Distribution, where she currently works today.


“Many times, I have been the only woman at the table during an important work meeting. I think it can be very intimidating for women to be the only female in the room, especially if they haven’t yet found their confidence or their inner voice. I am not a shy person, and I’m not afraid to push for more information or ask tough questions. But I too have had to tell myself that I am equal to everyone else who is sitting in that room, and I deserve to have an equal voice on the subject. You may not always get the equal treatment you deserve, but you can’t lose your focus and give up.”


For those who are just beginning their careers in hospitality, Fults highly recommends – if the opportunity presents itself and if one’s circumstances allow it – that they seriously consider moving jobs, companies and even locations.  Fults has followed jobs to locations such as Phoenix, Nashville, Atlanta, New York, Las Vegas, and even Austria.

“While there can be many benefits to staying in a role long-term, one of the disadvantages is that it can stunt your growth,” she explains. “I believe you learn and grow by going through different experiences when you work in different companies that have different cultures. Getting comfortable is the biggest obstacle to growth.”

Today, Fults manages 32 team members and believes her leadership style has been heavily influenced by her varied work experience.

“Experiencing so many different leadership styles has really benefitted me,” she notes. “I try to emulate the bosses that I admired (whether I directly reported to them or not), and I refuse to act like the bosses I had who did not lead their teams well.”

Fults recalls working for one man who took her under his wing and taught her basic but very important principles for a successful career such as how to manage through politics, how to listen to clients, and how to offer very useful constructive criticism. Later on in her career, she worked with a woman who she really admired because “she refused to take any B.S. regardless of what meeting she was in. She would always fight for what was right and make sure whoever was talking had the data to support their arguments. I loved every minute working alongside her. She would give me advice and coach me, and I still go to her for advice to this day.”


Seeing firsthand how different leadership styles can affect a team also helped Fults to become an advocate for mentoring.

“I love to mentor, and I try to be really conscious about mentoring my team, because I think it’s really important,” she explains. “I take the open-door policy to the extreme. I meet regularly with every level in my team and I’m constantly doing skip levels.”

During these meetings, Fults focuses on really getting to know her team members and what’s important to them, their background, their goals, and even what’s happening in their personal life (if they’re willing to share) because that helps her better understand how she can offer value to them.

In fact, every year, she has her team members create a plan that helps them to focus on both personal and professional goals during the coming year. Whether someone is interested in a promotion or is happy where they are, Fults works with all of her team members to ensure they’re always progressing.

“It’s a thought-provoking exercise and that helps me develop really deep relationships with most of my team members,” she adds. “And I’m proud to say that I’ve had three of my five direct reports who were managers get promoted to director-level positions.”


While Fults’ intelligence, work ethic and willingness to take on new challenges certainly opened many doors for her, she also wants young hospitality industry executives to realize the importance of networking and developing close industry relationships. Many times, Fults left one job for another because a former boss, colleague or industry professional she had met and kept in touch with over the years contacted her about a new opportunity.

“Early on in my career I watched my colleagues form these connections, saw how they moved between companies within the industry, and realized that those who worked hard to maintain those relationships and connections often benefitted from them the most,” she explains. “I started my career in 1996 and I am still working with many of the same people as back then; they’ve just moved on to different roles, companies and capacities the way I have.”


When Fults looks back on her career thus far, she feels that one of her greatest accomplishments is when she helped build her department and team at Loews Hotels from scratch.

“It took me years to build that department,” she explains. “I was working with team members who were new to distribution and systems, but we supported each other, we grew together and, in the end, we took the SLAs from 30 days down to 24 hours. It’s the hardest I’ve ever worked in my career!”

Years later, in 2016, another amazing opportunity presented itself: Fults ran for and won a three-year term as president of HEDNA.

“Working as president of HEDNA was one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had. We all worked for the members, and I had an obligation to lead the board, but everyone in HEDNA is a volunteer and I couldn’t just fire someone if they weren’t putting in the work that I expected from them! I really grew as a leader and as a person during my time there.”

About the Author


Michal Christine Escobar

Michal Christine Escobar is Hospitality Technology’s Senior Editor, with a concentration on the hotel industry.  She has a decade of experience as a B2B journalist. She is responsible for the hotel beat at the magazine and often writes about AI, VR, IoT and other emerging technologies affecting hospitality.

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