Recovery Brings New Challenges for HMC Digital Executives

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

Hoteliers from all verticals are continuing to figure out how best to motivate and retain staff, including digital. During HSMAI’s virtual Executive Roundtable for chief digital officers from hotel management companies on June 24, participants discussed the issues they find most pressing both as a large group and in smaller breakout groups.

Participating companies included Aimbridge Hospitality, Concord Hospitality, Crescent Hotels & Resorts, Prism Hotels & Resorts, Remington Hotels, and Spire Hospitality. Here are key takeaways from their discussion:


As more offices begin to reopen, several participants said that they are trying to encourage flexibility for employees who have proved that they can work remotely but have been met with some resistance. Here’s what they had to say:

  • “We have some old-school GMs with the school of thought that you have to be always present on property or you’re not working or you’re not a team player. It’s an uphill battle for us to say, ‘Even when we’re not visible, we’re still working, because it’s all digital.’”
  • “The flexible work component has been a big topic. We’re trying to encourage general managers at larger hotels or resorts to be open to having offsite digital marketing support, as well as having the proper digital wage scales.”
  • “We’re trying to allow people to take the time within the day that they need. If somebody needs to take an hour off to go have lunch outside of the house or pick up their kids, there’s really no management of that as long as the work is getting done. A lot of teams appreciate having that ability to flex when they need it.”


Participants said that they have observed work patterns changing — specifically, senior managers are doing less strategic work and jobs overall are becoming more specific in their duties. Here’s what they had to say:

  • “One of the things that we found is that some senior people stopped doing strategy and were doing more of the tasks such as content updates. And we need figure out how do we get back to that person being really strategic.”
  • “In relation to managers making content updates, there seems to be a shift in the industry toward that. There are pros and cons to having high-level folks do them, as opposed to having junior people do them. Junior people can learn it quickly, but then they also are leaving quickly, so you’re constantly having to refill that position, as opposed to a more senior person who may be more devoted. It will be interesting to see how it shakes out.”
  • “Something that we’ve collectively noticed is that we’ve been able to not just have someone be a catch-all, but really starting to differentiate jobs based on responsibility and then assign different pay and titles based on that.”


There is still a lot of turnover in the industry, and participants said that they have tried many things to ensure that employees feel appreciated and want to stay. Some of their efforts have been successful, while others have not. Here’s what they had to say:

  • “My team told me that every bit of time spent doing team building or otherwise was time taken away from things that they knew they were going to have to do anyway. So, they requested that we stop doing that. It was unfortunate, because it was something I enjoyed, but I recognize that we just didn’t have the bandwidth.”
  • “There are two things that really have stuck out to me that we have done. One is ‘No-Meeting Fridays.’ That seems to be like a huge thing. Like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I have a whole day. I can do my own thing. I can make my own hours. I don’t have to be on Zoom.’ So, I recommend picking a day that’s always a no-meeting day. The second thing is daily celebrations. We’re not getting everyone together daily, but we have a platform where each member of the team can share something that they’re celebrating personally or professionally. It just gives everybody an outlet to share the wins.”
  • “I’ve tried to just be as transparent as possible with where we are and then share the vision of where we’re going. They seem to appreciate that communication and that I’m available for one-to-ones with anyone.”

Categories: Marketing, Digital
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