By Juli Jones, CAE, Vice President, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
HSMAI’s three advisory boards have identified the disruptive factors that will most challenge hospitality sales, marketing, and revenue-optimization professionals in 2019. As part of their visioning activities, members of our Sales Advisory Board, Marketing Advisory Board, and Revenue Management Advisory Board told us the big issues on their radar for the next year.
Below we’ve collated the top five responses for each advisory board, with a representative quote for each one. You’ll see some overlap — including customer behavior (Sales and Marketing) and distribution (Sales and Revenue Management) — which for us underscores the importance of facilitating cross-disciplinary conversations in our industry.
- Customer behavior: “We get frustrated that our customers are avoiding interfacing with our sales teams, but what are we doing to evolve to how they want to buy? I consider this a disrupter because as a generation they are using technology for most aspects of their life, yet we still want to cold-call them in the office (what office? they will work out of a coffeeshop) and come tour the hotel (virtual reality will become mainstream). Do we keep forcing them to buy on our desired path (which we know is highly valuable from a relationship buy), or do we evolve to accommodate both? How do we interchange them and not just double acquisition costs?”
- Replacements for salespeople: “The sales discipline is at risk if we don’t continue to advocate for the need for personal relationships and proactive sales efforts. Technology, automation, and revenue management are all disrupters yet can support the sales effort as long as the discipline is still respected and appreciated.”
- Asset management: “Asset managers are getting more involved in hotel operations and planning decisions, which makes it difficult to manage time and messaging. This ties in with owners not understanding the sales process — many times asset managers do not have this background but are making crucial decisions.”
- Infighting: “Revenue managers are given too much leeway to control inventory and rates without consulting with sales.”
- Distribution: “Marketing automation should change the behaviors of salespeople.”
- Consumer behavior: “Finding ways to monetize the shift from traditional behavior to ‘micro moments’ is critical. How do we message consumers with information they need, when they need it? How do we make transactions on mobile devices faster, easier, and secure? How do we respond to an increasingly mobile world in a way that provides the best possible experience for consumers?”
- Voice: “Is voice search really the next big thing — and if so, how can hotels take advantage of it?”
- Personalization: “How far do we take personalizing the guest experience online and offline?”
- Disrupters: “Increasing inventory of alternative accommodations — how/will this impact us?”
- Privacy/customer data: “Ethical use of customer data — GDPR is a harbinger of more regulations.”
- Cross-disciplinary collaboration: “Gaining support from corporate/above-property teams to engage [the] full revenue strategy team (DOS, marketing, digital) to work together.”
- Growing ADR/revenue: “Finding ways to grow average rate more than inflation considering the increasing labor costs hotels are seeing.”
- Distribution: “Booking channels are spending more and more money on advertising in order to get their piece of the buy and are ‘training’ travelers to think that they will find better deals on OTAs.”
- Talent: “A clear growth plan or development plan — how do we recognize talent and how do we grow it?”
- Profitability: “How to mitigate expense creep in times of diminishing top line revenue performances.
Our advisory boards will explore these and other issues in 2019. Look for some of their insights as part of HSMAI events, content, and other programs throughout the year.