Research, Sales Firm to Expand in Salisbury - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Research, Sales Firm to Expand in Salisbury

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SALISBURY, Md. (AP)- The Knowland Group, a hospitality industry market research and sales firm, is planning to dramatically increase the size of its Salisbury work force, a company spokeswoman announced.

The expansion- which may bring about 180 new jobs to the Salisbury area- coincides with tremendous growth at the company, which turns 6-years-old this September.

Knowland Group has given a modern twist to the old practice of watching hotel reader boards. It pays contractors to walk into hotels in 150 world markets and take pictures of lobby signs displaying which groups are meeting where. This information is provided to 2,700 hotel clients who use it to keep an eye on their competitors and to maybe woo away their group bookings.

For a fee, the Knowland Group will also track down the people responsible for booking events and try to convince them to pick one hotel over another.

Hannah Karaszkiewicz, a communications manager with Knowland Group, said the company was shopping around for a new 30,000-square-foot office in the Salisbury area. The company will hire in the areas of sales, customer service, field research managers and business-to-business cold calling, she said.

"Within the next 12-18 months, we expect to expand to at least 300 people," Karaszkiewicz said. "Though this growth includes all our offices, we'd estimate about 75 percent of new hires would be at the Salisbury location. However, it very well could be more than that."

The Knowland Group, which is based in McLean, Va., employs the majority of its work force in Salisbury. It also has a small office in Lewes, which handles accounting duties, and in Sunnyvale, Calif., which handles software development. The company website also lists two offices in India that handle programming and data entry.

The Knowland Group's Salisbury office is hidden away on a one-way street in the Salisbury industrial park. It's an unassuming footprint for a company that in the past year has begun working with hotels in Germany, France, Spain and Belgium, as well as further east to Dubai and Thailand.

Among the Knowland Group's clients are the giants of the hospitality industry, such as the Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt hotels.

"Knowland Group is in a growth mode. It's challenging right now to find pockets of growth," said Dave Ryan, executive director of Salisbury-Wicomico Economic Development.

Ryan said the Salisbury area has a history as being a successful place for entrepreneurs to start a company. He cites K and L Microwave and Harvard Custom Manufacturing as examples.

"We're delighted that (Knowland Group) chose Salisbury," Ryan said.

In addition to its reader board services, Knowland Group also provides two more products, which are called Insight and Target Net. Insight is the world's largest database on group meetings and events, and clients can use it as a search engine for finding business leads. Target Net is a type of software that hotels can use as a sales management tool.

Inc. magazine has ranked the Knowland Group the second-fastest growing company in the travel industry for the past two years. It ranked this year as No. 379 out of 500 companies overall. 

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