Opportunities, Retention, Motivation, and Other Advice for Today’s Hospitality Students

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

More than 300 hospitality students from 17 hospitality schools attended the HSMAI Greater New York Chapter’s Virtual Global Intercollegiate Spring Conference on April 5–8, 2021, to network, learn more about the industry, and hear from renowned speakers. Coordinated by New York University, Pennsylvania State University, and St. John’s University, the conference featured an opening keynote from one of the most dynamic leaders in hotel real estate: Art Adler, president and founder of Adler Hotel Advisors LLC.

During his presentation, Adler offered students a variety of insights into the evolving hospitality landscape as well as aspects of leadership that will be important to them as they move through their careers.


Adler shared what he considers opportunities and threats facing the hospitality industry specifically around consolidation, branding, and distribution. While he thinks brand consolidation and proliferation will continue, there are still important considerations such as:

  • Will brands become marginalized?
  • What is truly important to consumers? Is it brand, experience, location, or something else?
  • Will distribution systems such as Google, Amazon, and OTAs outflank the brands?
  • When it comes to independent management companies: Is bigger better?

Adler’s overarching advice: “Follow the money.”


After many decades in hospitality, Adler is well-versed on what it takes to be an impactful leader. He stressed the importance of employee retention, which has many benefits for an organization, including:

  • Experience results in better employee judgement.
  • Loyal employees translate to loyal customers.
  • Losing key employees results in a loss of productivity and increased financial costs of finding and training new people.

But how can leadership motivate employees to stay? Adler noted that engagement drives retention on every level. His advice for engaging with employees included:

  • Treat everyone from top to bottom with respect.
  • Involve junior employees in internal meetings.
  • Invest in training, including management training.
  • Remember that your best salespeople are not necessarily your best managers.
  • Interact cross-regionally and across hotels on every level.
  • Small rewards and recognition matter.
  • Use a manager/employee 360 feedback process.

Adler added that it is important to create a fun, inclusive, and collaborative environment that employees will want to be involved in. His tips for that included:

  • Compensation drives behavior.
  • Compensation and organizational structures must be consistent with fostering a team environment.
  • Lead by example – put the team first and yourself last.
  • Involve senior team members in setting strategy, as their buy-in is crucial for success.
  • The power is in the team – teams should have goals and rewards as a group.
  • Organizations need transparency from the top to the bottom.

Overall, Adler painted a rosy picture for students interested in having careers in hospitality. The growth and recovery of the industry over the next few years will provide significant growth opportunity for those who can make an impact in driving and managing revenues for hotels and hotel companies. The future of hospitality will be better than ever, and today’s students have a bright future to look forward to in the industry.

Categories: Sales
Insight Type: Articles