By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
HSMAI’s Marketing Strategy Conference is coming up on Sept. 28, with breakout sessions addressing the latest data, research, and developments in marketers’ efforts to connect with, track, and influence changing consumer sentiments throughout all phases of travel. In advance of the conference, presenters from the breakout “Capitalize on Commercial Strategy to Drive Market Share” gave a preview of issues they are facing and what attendees can expect from their session.
Tom Buoy, CRME, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Radisson Hotel Group Americas; Andrew Flack, chief commercial officer for Marcus Hotels & Resorts; and Raul Moronta, CRME, chief commercial officer for Remington Hotels, will give insights into how commercial strategy can create operational efficiencies and elevate marketing teams’ performance in a panel discussion moderated by Flo Lugli, principal with Navesink Advisory Group LLC. Here’s what the three presenters had to say about their session:
What has been the most difficult part of being a chief commercial officer (CCO) during the pandemic?
Tom Buoy: There are a few things: maximizing the return on commercial investments in a highly dynamic market; adapting rapidly to changing market conditions, driven primarily by COVID and changes in public and private policy; ensuring that our commercial team remains agile, engaged, aligned, and highly prescriptive; helping our franchisees do more with less resources; finding the right addressable demand and adapting that to the changing voice/needs of the customer; and witnessing our industry suffer through furloughs, mass layoffs, and hotel closures while other industries have excelled/triumphed.
Andrew Flack: We often talk about this year having been one long “pre-opening” campaign. We have to lean into the rising leisure demand and redeploying salespeople against increased group leads, while still being conscious that our actual revenues are tracking well behind 2019. It’s a delicate resourcing balance that we have been reviewing week to week.
Raul Moronta: Aside from the obvious lack of revenues, the most difficult part has been our lack of human capital. At the beginning of the pandemic, most of our sales associates assisted in various operations roles as cost-saving measures. Now we have a number of open positions in housekeeping, front office, and F&B that we cannot fill, which is affecting our ability to drive revenue.
What do you want people to get out of this session?
Buoy: I hope people will take away an understanding of the value of adopting a data-driven approach to developing commercial strategies and tactics and the value of challenging long-held paradigms. If your organizational structure is not evolving and/or adapting to a rapidly changing marketplace, you should attend this session. Several leading management and franchise companies have announced the appointment of CCOs in the last 18 months. Learning why and how these data-driven, digital-first leaders/companies are building their organizations to capture share and drive profitability may help you in your own commercial journey.
Flack: This is a new journey for all of us. What better time to take stock of everyone’s shared experience and learn from how different organizations have addressed the challenge of driving revenue and RevPAR in such a novel environment?
Moronta: Our plan is to give them an insight on how to thrive in challenging times. Our roles do not get diminished by a pandemic; we need to find sustainable and creative solutions to continue to outperform our competitors and preserve asset value.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Buoy: Although the past 18 months have been a dismal period for humanity, we have learned a lot about what it is to be human, to endure, and to overcome. Those lessons will continue to serve us well as we continue to recover and begin thriving again. The next 24 months will continue to challenge us and compel us to further improve and automate our revenue-delivery systems. This will continue to demonstrate the value of building a highly integrated and data-driven approach to maximizing revenues and profitability.
Flack: Most of us are in this industry because we believe in the power of travel and hospitality to be a force for good in the world. It’s on all of us to work together to bring this industry back, and to attract new generations of both customers and employees.
Moronta: This too shall pass, and we are already seeing great signs of recovery on a number of markets. We have also learned great lessons about what factors drive demand, what our guests really want, and how to satisfy that demand.
The Marketing Strategy Conference is part of HSMAI’s Commercial Strategy Week in Dallas on Sept. 27–30, 2021. Learn more.