By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
HSMAI hosted a Hotel Management Company Sales & Marketing Virtual Roundtable on April 30 that focused on the impact that COVID-19 is having on sales and marketing at hotel management companies. In addition to sharing what they have learned after being in the trenches for more than a month, HMC sales and marketing professionals discussed positive trends and indicators they are looking for and seeing, as well as what’s still keeping them awake at night
While it’s sometimes difficult to detect the light at the end of the tunnel, roundtable participants said they are beginning to see things slowly turn around. Several participants on the sales side said they are starting to hear sales phones ringing again and are getting bookings in the summer and beyond. Others said that they think leisure is already starting to rebound, as states are lifting their restrictions and people are eager to get out of their house. Meanwhile, construction, government, and healthcare workers are continuing to occupy rooms. “We are celebrating every win, no matter how small,” one participant said.
Staff that have been furloughed are starting to come back into the office, and employees are ready to get back in the game as business slowly ticks up, several participants said. “They are fired up and ready to get back,” one participant said. “We have motivated, positive, and aggressive sales directors, and we’re really seeing the cream rise to the top.”
HMC sales and marketing professionals are keeping their fingers on the pulse of several factors to consider when making future decisions. Several participants mentioned Demand360 and Agency360 — software that provides information on historical and future performance — as offering valuable insight, which is helpful in predicting future trends. Roundtable participants said they also have been consulting key corporate clients and top account holders as well as keeping an eye on patterns in China.
When it comes to finding the right time to open back up, there are several factors that roundtable participants said they were considering. Several mentioned that demand was one of the most important things to think about. If the demand for group bookings and leisure travel isn’t there, there isn’t much of a point in reopening, they said.
Another important factor is the legalities that come with reopening. While some states and municipalities are beginning to lift restrictions, many still have mandated stay-at-home orders and/or that hotels stay closed. Travel restrictions also go hand-in-hand with demand, as once people are able to safely and legally travel, the hope is that demand will come back
While there are many positive developments happening, roundtable participants admitted that there are still a number of things that are concerning them about the crisis. Uncertainty is one of the most difficult things to handle, participants said. Nobody knows when this will really end, or if/when a second wave will hit, leaving them wondering, “What will the new normal look like?,” “How will this change the industry permanently?,” and even “Will we be able to open this year?” One participant mused: “Will my company even be able to survive this?”
Not being able to predict the immediate future makes it difficult to plan for the long-term future, including budgeting and bringing staff back onboard. One participant said they are struggling to keep up morale. “How will we be able to keep our teams motivated when this doesn’t seem to have an end date?” the participant said.
Several participants said they are especially worried about urban markets, which have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19. One participant said they believe that urban locations are going to be among the last to come back. “We need shopping, restaurants, and attractions to be open in order to draw to urban markets,” another participant said.
Atlific Hotels; Chartwell Hospitality; Crescent Hotels and Resorts; CUSA Hotel Management; Dimension Development; GF Hotels & Resorts; HHM; Hostmark Hopitality; HVS Asset Management; LBA Hospitality; Library Hotel Collection; M&R Hotel Management; Marcus Hotels and Resorts; OTO Development; Prism Hotels & Resorts; Pyramid Hotel Group; Regency Hotel Management; Remington Hotels; Sound Hospitality Management; Staypineapple Hotels; Summit Hospitality Group; and Wright Investments.
For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.