The Hospitality Faculty Perspective on the Sales Career Path

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

In continuing the conversation on the challenges in hospitality talent and the talent pipeline, the HSMAI Foundation held its Hospitality School Sales Faculty Forum to discuss the student perspective when it comes to the sales career path. Faculty members from hospitality schools Johnson & Wales University, New York University, Northern Arizona University, Red River College Polytech, and Virginia Tech participated in the forum and offered the following sentiments on how students view the discipline and necessary resources to improve engagement.

What is the lasting impact of the global pandemic on student morale and motivation?

  • Students are cautiously optimistic.
  • Since most hospitality jobs are not remote, some don’t want to have a job they can’t do from home.
  • Students are worried that the labor shortage is permanent, making management jobs more stressful.
  • They’re aware that salespeople in the industry were laid off or overworked with extra duties.
  • Some students are disconnected, less engaged, and having a hard time with structure and deadlines.

What is the level of student interest in these areas of concentration before they take your class?

  1. Marketing
  2. Revenue management
  3. Sales

This ranking is the same across the marketing and revenue management disciplines as well.

What are the student perceptions of sales career opportunities when they start your class?

  • They don’t understand the role or fear selling.
  • Sales keeps the doors open and keeps hotel employees working.
  • The network-building potential is great, and there’s the opportunity to make money.
  • They believe knowledge of sales and persuasion are essential skills for upper management.

What do you tell students in your class that excites them about this career path?

  • It’s a good path to take to accelerate their career in hospitality.
  • Sales is a highly developed skill set that is transferable.
  • The path can lead them to a CMO position.
  • It’s not all about cold calling.
  • Everyone sells — you just don’t realize it.
  • Every day is different; it’s never boring.

What is a best practice for increasing student interest in sales classes?

  • Engaging with inspiring industry speakers.
  • Shadowing sales managers on the job.
  • Incorporating lecture topics and activities in the intro course that helps create understanding of the discipline and clearly describes hotel sales careers.

What resources would help you with curriculum development or enhancement? (Ranked in order of interest.)

  1. Case studies and supplemental materials
  2. Digital assets (videos, podcasts, etc.)
  3. Plug-and-play curriculum
  4. Faculty externships
  5. Faculty development opportunities or certifications
  6. Access to industry professionals as guest speakers

What resources would help students pursue careers in sales? (Ranked in order of interest.)

  1. Internships
  2. Access to industry professionals
  3. Mentorships
  4. Student certifications
  5. Career planning and placement resources
  6. Academic scholarships
  7. Scholarships for HSMAI membership
  8. HSMAI collegiate chapters

HSMAI Foundation Perspective

One of the key focus areas of the HSMAI Foundation is understanding the pipeline of students from hospitality schools that can help fill sales, marketing, and revenue positions. Industry practitioners and leaders must continue to engage the faculty who teach sales, marketing, and revenue classes and reach their students with messages that highlight the benefits of a fulfilling career in these ever-important disciplines.

Categories: Sales, Talent and Leadership Development
Insight Type: Articles