Top Sales Issues in the Pandemic World

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

HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board members recently revised their recommendation on the top issues requiring sales leaders attention. It must come as no surprise that they are focused on much different issues since their last “scouting” exercise conducted in November 2019.

“Just like during the last 6 months, and for the foreseeable future, sales leaders must continue to innovate – not just by developing and adopting new technology platforms, but by also innovating around our processes and eliminating anything that isn’t directly revenue generating,” said Kaaren Hamilton, CMP, vice president of global sales at RLH Corp. and chair of HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board. “Now is the time to audit and review all of the work and downstream processes that have encumbered us from driving efficiencies during high demand.”

Melissa Kouvelas, director of worldwide wales, business travel and account development at BWH said she is looking at this as an chance to refocus and strengthen her teams. “I have taken this as an opportunity to blend roles on my teams utilizing the strengths in the individuals that are still here,” she said. “With so many distractions as well as the unknown on a daily basis, emotional intelligence, focus, and the ability to change direction quickly are key areas of influence.”

INNOVATE: Leading Sellers

  • Develop “hunters” on your team who are fearless, aggressive, creative, self-motivated, and curios. This recent article goes into much more depth on this issue. And, take a cue from Kaaren Hamilton who shared that, “We quickly shifted to an aggressive hunting culture with the entire team focused on new account development. We’ve executed more strategic partnerships and commercial agreements in the last 6 months than we had in the previous twelve.”
  • Make sure your sellers are proficient in digital and social media selling techniques. (HSMAI’s Hotel Digital Sales Essentials course is a resource to consider.)
  • Look at technology to create efficiencies and do more with smaller teams and fewer resources. Keep team members motivated by developing KPIs that reflect the new actions that the sales team needs to navigate the crisis. Whether it’s check-in calls, retained bookings, or community partnerships — celebrate new types of wins and capture how sales teams are impacting their coworkers, communities, and longer-term prospects of the property.” (and get more recommendations from the Planning for Hospitality Recovery – Sales resource guide from HSMAI and Amadeus


  • Get in tune with changing customer buying behavior and the changing path to purchase (how, when, and why they will buy)…and what it means for the new sales process.
  • Rethink your contracts and contracting processes to align with new expectations from your customers and your internal stakeholders.
  • Drive a sales culture throughout your organization (think: Everyone Sells, Everyone is a Seller), to break down the barriers between sales and other disciplines – from revenue management to marketing to the front desk. We’re all under pressure to do more with less, and everyone now needs to be proficient in multiple areas.


  • Be clear on the ROI of sales within your hotel(s) – from the sales team to individual sellers – and be prepared to effectively communicate it to GMs, asset managers, owners, and other stakeholders.
  • Think about how to leverage tech to create efficiencies. Automation can allow sales professionals to spend more time on the strategy and less time on the tactics.
  • Look ahead to the future. What can we do now to design and build more effective sales organizations and salespeople which are better positioned to thrive post-Covid?

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: Sales
Insight Type: Articles