4 Things Keeping Hospitality Sales Professionals Up at Night

By Juli Jones, CAE, Vice President, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

Being in hospitality sales means staying ahead of the curve, so on a recent call for HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board, we had a roundtable discussion in which our members could share with each other the biggest issues they’re dealing with today. What is on everyone’s radar? What’s not, but should be? Here’s are four things on the radar of our Sales Advisory Board members:

1. The decline of catering. “We’re not competing against hotels as much anymore,” a Sales Advisory Board member said. “The competitors have turned to the bar, the winery, the museum, and the corporate offices that have better meeting space with better technology than any of our hotels could ever imagine having. So, my struggle is how to really increase our catering business and banquet business.”

Another member agreed, noting that it’s an issue that cuts against hotel guests’ desire to have a more authentic local experience in the destination —meaning off-property. “Many of the hotel brands hesitate to partner with or recommend destination management professionals,” the member said, “because they feel like they’re taking business away from the hotel.”

The advisory board also discussed the flip side of that kind of partnership: Increasing collaboration among sales, F&B operations, convention services, and local partners can help a hotel present creative options that maximize customers’ spend — off property and on.

2. Keeping up with M&A activity. “Our industry is seeing so many changes, often driven by mergers and acquisitions,” a Sales Advisory Board member said. “What are the trends? Will this pace of M&A continue? What does it mean for above-property sales structures? For example, a large global hotel company has outsourced all of its administrative support overseas. They do not have any direct admin or sales support for their above-property sales teams. Is that working? Is anyone else doing that or thinking of doing that? What other innovations are being driven by M&A? How can we learn from these developments and grow as an organization?”

3. Data, data, data. “Our number-one priority in the next 18 months is improving data quality and reporting,” a Sales Advisory Board member said. “We have huge issues around this within our own organization — for owners, and for our salesforce itself as it impacts their compensation and recognition…. How do we track and attribute results? How do we disseminate information? How is data shared within a hotel — and through the company? How can we standardize and create efficiencies?”

4. The talent pipeline. “There’s a lot of fear about how scarcely populated the ‘bench’ is — we have to cultivate talent and market the career opportunities the industry offers,” a Sales Advisory Board member said.

Another member agreed: “It’s largely a function of population. There’s just not enough young people. The colleges are all competing for them, and then we also have to convince 18-year-olds to study hospitality and explain what that is… And I think that’s hard to explain. Hospitality sales is different from selling a tangible product, so we need to work on our own marketing about the job itself.”

Data analytics and talent development are among the priority issues that HSMAI Organizational Members identified as part of our Spring and Fall Curate programs. Be on the lookout for additional HSMAI content and resources focusing on those and other major industry challenges.


Categories: Sales
Insight Type: Articles