Checking in With Sales and Marketing Executives

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

From talent shortages to revamped incentive plans, there is a lot that sales and marketing executives are trying to figure out right now as they continue to recover from COVIDS’s impact. HSMAI hosted a virtual Executive Roundtable for hotel management company sales and marketing leaders on June 10. Attendees shared what’s on their minds both as a large group and in smaller breakout groups.

Participating companies included Atlific Hotels, Atrium Hospitality, Commonwealth Hotels, Crescent Hotels & Resorts, Donohoe Hospitality Services, The Kessler Collection, North Central Group, PM Hotel Group, Prism Hotels & Resorts, Pyramid Hotel Group, Remington Hotels, and Summit Hospitality Group. Here are key takeaways from their conversation:


  • “I just think that all this demand we have because people have been pent-up is artificial. They’re blowing the roof off of our pace, but when we have to do budgets for 2022, I’m very concerned that my owner’s going to want another increase. And are people still going to be traveling-mad next year?”
  • “More and more people want to use their own contract versus using our standard hotel contract and add in a paragraph or two that they request. So that’s been something we’ve been seeing.”
  • “Regarding incentives, operations did not want salespeople breaking away from the team-based plan that we had had in place the previous year, but this idea of everybody just doing everything wasn’t producing the kind of results we needed. I convinced them to allow us to go back to goal-based plans. But I had to cut the potential payout in half from what it was pre-COVID. So, it’s now the traditional sales incentive plan but with individual goals.”
  • “Something I thought was relevant was the deferred comp reimbursement. Company salaries were reduced but brought back to 100 percent in January. But if you lost 10 percent last year, it would be reimbursed back to you this year.”


  • “It’s pitting sales against operations. Salespeople want to book a group and GMs are saying, ‘We can’t handle it.’ Salespeople are mad at the GMs because they can’t handle it. And the GMs are mad at the salespeople for being insensitive to what the situation is. And it’s really creating animosity in the field, which is disappointing and frustrating.”
  • “It’s like we need the business, but we can’t book the business, or we can’t feel good about booking the business because we can’t actually take care of the business.”
  • “COVID fatigue is alive and well in all of our hotels. And I can’t even be mad at general managers for it, because we have four interviews for one position and only one person shows up. They’re just checking the box to say they looked for a job and they don’t even show up. Or you hire them and then they don’t show up.”
  • “I’ve been involved in a few DOS hires recently, and I thought the talent pool would be better. You’ll get 150 resumes, but you might have less than five that are actually good. I just wonder if people didn’t retain their good talent and chop off the B players when they had to do furloughs and layoffs. Because I’m just not seeing the quality that I would have expected given how many people are out of work”
  • “I also wonder what the long-term plan will look like for housekeeping. After the additional unemployment ends, maybe we will see a bump and some more people applying, but I think there were so many people furloughed and laid off this year that found other jobs. They’re making the same amount of money and found out it’s a much easier job.”


  • “For the first few months, we had no people on property. The entire organization was remote and selling for multiple hotels. It was efficient and successful. We are absolutely keeping it as our long-term solution, so we will now be forever hybrid. We now have a few people on property — a servicer, a sales leader, and maybe an admin. But the true sellers, especially for incoming electronic leads or prospecting, are all remote.”
  • “We tried having regional directors of catering for when you don’t have enough catering pace to bring back people on property. We’re streamlining that process, and that’s going really, really well for us.”
  • “We had to add an analyst because the owners are asking for so much constant analysis on growth and projections, and with the lead volume coming in, the property teams just couldn’t handle all of that on their own.”
  • “My fear is that the talent that employees have developed during COVID can be used against them. Things such as knowing how to work the front desk may become a crutch and they won’t get back into selling.”

Categories: Marketing
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