By Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, President and CEO, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
As part of the six Executive Roundtable programs that we’ve hosted during HSMAI Road to Recovery 2020, we asked participants to rank the importance of five factors for their teams in working toward recovery: education and training, compensation and benefits, workload and quality of life, motivation, and morale. These participants are senior-level professionals working in sales, marketing, revenue, digital, and/or loyalty for hotel brands or hotel management companies; many of them supervise large organizations and have had to make hard decisions about staffing throughout the pandemic.
Three of the groups ranked workload and quality of life as the number-one factor, and five of them put some combination of workload and quality of life, motivation, and morale in their top three, with the sixth group substituting education and training for morale. Compensation and benefits didn’t rate higher than fourth for any group.
This pretty clearly suggests that our industry leaders are worried about their people. And they should be. It’s easy to forget, but hospitality has been on the front lines of the pandemic for more than seven months now — both disproportionately affected and providing critical lodging services across the country and around the world. That takes its toll on even the most experienced professionals.
“[A]s we grapple with uncertainty in our role as operators of businesses, we must also address how it affects us as people,” a recent article from Strategic Vision notes. “That goes for both our teams and ourselves. The uncertainty can have a grave effect on employees. How many people in tourism and hospitality really believe their job is safe now? Even if they are not immediately affected by the possibility of job losses, many are juggling other major concerns around family life, reduced income, and protecting family members who may be at a higher risk of catching the virus.”
Throughout Road to Recovery, we’ve worked to balance realism about the current state of the industry with optimism about what we can do about it. Maybe we can start by giving ourselves and each other a break — by stepping back, taking a breath, understanding what we’re going through, and celebrating that we’re still here. I’ve been truly inspired by the thousands of hospitality sales, marketing, and revenue optimization professionals who have participated in Road to Recovery.
Just a few months into the crisis, I wrote: “It’s on all of us to create a way forward that acknowledges that, while companies did what they had to do to keep the industry alive, many furloughed and laid-off employees feel hurt — and likely will even if and when they’re reactivated or rehired.” Five months later, I still believe that. But I also know that our community remains strong, determined, and up to the task.