Safety, Flexibility, and Empathy: Top Priorities for Hospitality Marketing Leaders

By Juli Jones, CAE, Vice President, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board met on a call this summer to discuss the top issues for the discipline, which have rapidly changed since February. Here are what MAB members identified as the most important issues to focus on for the rest of the year, along with comments from several MAB members.

HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board recently conducted their annual “scouting” of the top issues facing hospitality marketers. Unsurprisingly, the umbrella over all of the topics is the new world in which we are marketing.

“Clearly the number one issue is how to operate in the new environment,” said Dan Wacksman, CHDM, CRME, principal at Sassato LLC and outgoing chair of HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board. “Essentially, everything has changed: market mix, feeder markets, booking windows, peak, and need periods have all changed as have customer expectations. Add to this reduced manpower and budget, and nearly everything has shifted, so we need to shift as well. We need to look at the world differently, at least until we see a much broader recovery.”

HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board is developing approaches and resources to better help marketers in this new environment. The advisory board is focusing on messaging (flexibility, safety & transparency), and marketing and attribution. And, as we look to “reset” the workforce, what better time to focus on fostering diversity and inclusion?

All of these topics will be explored in more depth through the Marketing track of HSMAI Recovery Connections throughout Fall 2020.

Theo Holloway, CHDM, director of ecommerce at Remington Hotels and incoming chair of HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board shared his thoughts. “Until a vaccine is discovered, marketers have a tremendous responsibility to maintain trust and instill confidence by communicating compassionately about changes and safety protocols with guests, meeting planners, employees, and even competitors,” he said. “We are all in this together so sharing best practices to keep people safe has never been more critical.”

Inspiring Guest Confidence: Flexibility, Safety, & Transparency

  • The New Value Proposition: what guests expect in our new world
  • Instilling confidence in our guests: safety and health procedures, frequent communication about facilities, policy and amenity updates, etc.
  • Communicating empathetically and effectively (with words and imagery) through the crisis and recovery
  • Transparency regarding the guest experience

Marketing & Attribution  

  • Ensuring profitability of advertising spend
  • Creating a roadmap to guide spend and report on results
  • Doing more with less (less funds, fewer staff, fewer travelers)

Fostering Diversity in the Hospitality Industry

  • Developing a perspective and playbook about fostering diversity and inclusion in the hospitality industry
  • Examining talent and marketing practices

For the rest of the year and into 2021, you will continue to see HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board focus on how to work in this new world. The current environment has very little to do with rate. It has everything to do with the ability to convey key messages and then deliver on them.

“The key messages as we see them are safety, flexibility, and empathy. And while it is imperative to get the messaging and offers right it is also imperative that promises made are delivered operationally. The hotels that get this right will ensure that revenue, marketing, and ops are working together,” Wacksman said. “We have been talking about getting rid of silos for years, and we believe COVID-19 will accelerate this process.  Most markets will have low demand, but even those that have higher demand will need to focus on these areas to capture whatever demand exists.”

Theo Holloway agreed: “Despite the very real and likely prospect of working with significantly reduced marketing budgets, marketers will need to work together, across various segments of the hospitality industry to maximize voice and returns.”

To discuss these and more of the latest issues facing sales, marketing, and revenue optimization professionals, sign up to take part in the new HSMAI Recovery Connections sessions as part of the Road to Recovery 2020. 

Categories: Marketing
Insight Type: Articles