HSMAI PERSPECTIVE: Finding Hope Among the Great Unknowns of 2021

By Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, President and CEO, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

When I introduced my HSMAI Perspective column back in March, I envisioned it as a short-term effort — part of what I thought would be our industry’s similarly short-term response to the pandemic. But here we are nine months later, ready to turn the page on 2020, and still responding, still working toward recovery.

Where will 2021 take us? The Customer Insights that HSMAI partners have been sharing over the last several months offer sometimes-conflicting, real-time assessments of the hospitality landscape, while the executives and thought leaders participating in our recent Executive Roundtable programs have traced a complicated web of challenges and opportunities in their efforts to get a handle on this crisis. From this and other takeaways from HSMAI Road to Recovery 2020, it’s easy to conclude that the only thing we know about the year ahead is that we don’t know much.

But that doesn’t mean we’re in the dark. At HSMAI, we have our advisory boards — stacked with industry-leading sales, marketing, and revenue optimization professionals — to help light the way. Effective strategic planning begins with asking the right questions, and as the members of our advisory boards look to the new year, they have a lot of them. At a time when their 2021 plans should be locked down, some of their biggest unknowns include:

  • Goal planning and incentives
  • Compensation and bonus plans
  • Target-setting in an uncertain future
  • Appropriate staffing levels
  • Prioritizing resources
  • Optimally leveraging technology
  • Cross-training

It’s a start, but as we confront the realities of planning for 2021, it’s not enough to suggest that hospitality professionals to make a plan based on what they and their company believe right now and then revisit that plan often. We have to be realistic and forgiving. We have to take care of ourselves and one another, and embrace the power of failure and the potential for innovation.

More than anything, we have to be hopeful. Let’s celebrate — yes, celebrate — everything we’ve accomplished in the strange and stressful year behind us, and look forward to everything we have yet to accomplish in the year ahead. My best wishes to you for a happy and healthy 2021.

Categories: Sales
Insight Type: Articles