Leadership Under Fire: Essential Lessons from Crisis Management

HSMAI Global Distribution Advisory Board  

From wildfires and hurricanes to system hacks and geopolitical conflict, we face crises in the hospitality industry on a regular basis. Crises are not just challenges but opportunities for developing leadership and strengthening our organizations. The HSMAI Global Distribution Advisory Board tackled this topic recently and came up with key insights on how to prepare for crisis situations. 

1. Effective Communication 

In a crisis, the importance of clear, timely communication becomes vital. Leaders must ensure they’re equipped to relay information swiftly. Does your organization have processes in place for crisis communication when systems are down (e.g., phones, emails, and/or message systems)? One member asked, “do you have a printed list of phone numbers for your team and your partners that you were able to pull out of a desk drawer?” This underlines the necessity of having accessible, reliable communication methods and multiple methods for contacting employees and partners.  

2. Business Continuity Planning 

The absence of a solid business continuity plan can expose significant vulnerabilities during crises. One AB member reflected, “The disaster recovery plan was something I had – the team knows the backup procedures, but the business continuity plan was what was really missing.” This speaks to the need for comprehensive planning to ensure that operations can continue seamlessly during and after a crisis. 

3. Leading with Calmness 

The demeanor of a leader during a crisis profoundly influences team morale. As a leader, how do you keep your team calm? How do you ensure that your team has what they need to run their part of the organization, but ensure that their team can also handle stress appropriately? Keeping calm and providing training ahead of and support during a crisis are important to maintain focus and efficiency under pressure. 

4. Learning and Improvement 

Crises are opportunities for introspection and growth. Reflecting on the crisis to identify areas for improvement is necessary to enhance future crisis response strategies. 

HSMAI’s Global Distribution Advisory Board monitors the landscape of hotel distribution and identifies ways that HSMAI can better serve the discipline. Members include:   

  • CHAIR: Sarah Fults, Vice President, Distribution, MGM Resorts International  
  • Sam Al Asmar, VP Revenue, Rotana Hotels & Resorts  
  • Brij Bhushan Chachra, CRME, Vice President – Revenue Management & Distribution, The Indian Hotels Co. Ltd.  
  • Andrea Daniels, Director, AMER Distribution & Intermediary Strategy, IHG  
  • Greg Duff, Principal and Chair of Hospitality, Travel and Tourism Practice, Foster Garvey PC  
  • Paolo Federico, Senior Vice President, Revenue Management & Distribution, Jumeirah Group  
  • Sydney Goodwin, Director of Distribution, Omni Hotels and Resorts  
  • Michael Hucho, Owner & Founder, michaelhucho.de Management Consultant  
  • Lauri Mussa, Corporate Director of Reservations & Distribution, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts  
  • Bela Nagy, SVP Distribution, Accor  
  • Vikram Pradhan, GVP, Global Revenue Management and Distribution, Wyndham  
  • Shelly Ransom, Director, Distribution, Hyatt Hotels Corporation  
  • Dan Reeder, Director of Revenue Management, Hilton 
  • Dan Wacksman, CHDM, CHBA, CRME, Principal, Sassato LLC  
  • Jeff Wermager, CRME, Independent  
  • Dave Roberts, Professor, Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration  


Categories: Revenue Management
Insight Type: Articles