Navigating the Evolving Landscape of Hospitality Education: Insights from European Faculty

The HSMAI Foundation recently hosted meetings among European faculty members in marketing and revenue management. The discussions highlighted how academic programs are adapting to changes in the industry, focusing on partnerships, program enhancement, and student engagement. 

Curriculum Development and Student Engagement 

The faculty discussed the best practices for improving the relevancy of curriculum and level of student engagement, including:  

  1. Case studies 
  2. Research projects 
  3. Mentoring 
  4. Career planning  
  5. Digital Assets 
  6. Industry Guest Speakers 
  7. Internships 

The incorporation of these resources in the curriculum not only enriches the learning experience but also aligns academic programs with industry needs. 

Challenges and Opportunities 

Our discussions touched upon the challenges in the field, such as clickbait, price disparities, and the impact of user reviews on pricing strategies. These topics reflect the dynamic nature of the industry and highlight the need for academic programs to continually adapt and stay in tune with what is going on in the field. 

Embracing Industry Collaboration 

Along those lines, a theme in our discussions was the importance of partnering with industry professionals. By integrating guest speakers, engaging in research projects, and utilizing real-world data for case studies, academic programs are trying to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. These collaborations are essential in providing students with current information and valuable insights into the industry. 

HSMAI’s Role 

HSMAI and the HSMAI Foundation are pivotal in bridging the gap between academia and industry. We offer invaluable resources such as case studies, scholarships, and paid internship opportunities, enhancing student engagement and curriculum development. Additionally, we facilitate industry engagement through guest speakers and faculty internships, providing real-world insights that are crucial for an up-to-date curriculum. 

Thank you to the faculty from participating colleges and universities:   

  • Edinburgh Napier University 
  • EHL 
  • Essec IMHI 
  • Shannon College of Hotel Management 
  • University of Surrey 
  • Zuyd University – Hotel Management School Maastricht 
  • SHL Schweizerische Hotelfachshule Lurzern 

5 Tips for Leading with a Revenue Strategy Mindset

Taylor Baca, Director of Revenue Management, Balboa Bay Resort, HSMAI Rising Revenue Optimization Leaders Council Member 

As the year winds down, it is crucial to assess the current state of a revenue strategy mindset within your hotel organization. Revenue leaders are tasked with the mission of getting buy-in from all stakeholders and departments within the hotel by breaking down the data and explaining the why behind the strategy. 

Leading a revenue strategy culture can allow for greater sense of purpose and direction, motivating teams to work together to achieve cohesive goals. I brought this topic to the Rising Revenue Optimization Leaders to discuss how we are leading a revenue strategy mindset. Here are our 5 top tips:  

  1. Data-Based Communication of Goals: Effective communication of revenue goals starts with a clear understanding of past performances. However, the key lies in adapting these goals based on updated financial forecasts. This approach allows us to communicate revenue targets to our team in a way that is both informed by past performance and responsive to current trends. 
  2. Cross-Departmental Engagement in Revenue Strategy: Revenue generation is a collective effort, requiring the involvement of various departments such as sales, marketing, food and beverage, spa, and retail. The challenge is to integrate these diverse departments into the revenue strategy discussions. Sharing insights from digital marketing and involving teams like food and beverage in these discussions can lead to a more comprehensive and unified strategy. 
  3. The Role of Revenue Leaders in Data Analysis: Revenue leaders today need to be adept in analyzing and interpreting data from various sources, including marketing, sales, and operational analytics. 
  4. Adapting Revenue Strategy Meetings: Involving teams from the front office, spa, and retail into meetings can provide a variety of perspectives, leading to a more well-rounded and effective revenue strategy. 
  5. Metrics for Success: Assessing the success of a revenue strategy mindset and culture is crucial. This involves tracking not only financial outcomes but also evaluating how effectively the revenue culture has been integrated across departments. Metrics should reflect the collaborative efforts of all departments in achieving the overall revenue targets. 

Read Further:  

Questions for Your Team:  

  1. What data do you use to effectively communicate the hotel’s goals and revenue targets to the team?  
  2. What strategies can we implement to engage other departments including sales, marketing, food and beverage, spa, etc.?  
  3. Should revenue leaders become the data experts? Breaking down marketing, sales, food and beverage, etc. analytics? 
  4. How are we evolving our revenue strategy meetings to involve departments outside of commercial strategy (Food and Beverage, Front Office, Spa, Retail)?  
  5. How can we measure the success of our revenue strategy mindset and culture? What metrics should we track?  


Insights From HSMAI Career Achievement in Sales Award Honoree, Kimberly Furlong

HSMAI staff recently had the opportunity to interview Kimberly Furlong, Chief Commercial Officer, Atrium Hospitality. Kimberly received the Career Achievement in Sales Award during HSMAI Sales Leader Forum, November 8th in Long Beach.  

With 30 years of experience in the hotel industry, Kimberly joined Atrium Hospitality in 2015 as one of the founding members of the company’s executive leadership team. As a nimble leader, Kimberly strategically directed Atrium during the unprecedented pandemic to not only survive but thrive.  

Kimberly is the Executive Sponsor for Atrium’s SPIRIT Council, a member of multiple hospitality industry advisory committees, forums, and advanced user groups. In addition, Kimberly is a guest speaker and mentor for the Ohio State University Hospitality Management students.  

Q: Can you tell us about your journey and what receiving the HSMAI Award for Career Achievement in Sales means to you? 

A: I’m truly honored to receive this award. I attribute the recognition to the countless industry professionals who have made a significant impact on my career.  

Like so many of my friends in the industry, I started my hotel career in an entry-level position at the front desk, advanced to AGM, and shortly thereafter pivoted to revenue management where I spent 15 years helping my company and the industry shape the relatively new discipline into what it is today.  My favorite projects were the ones that allowed me to be innovative and entrepreneurial, including launching a large reservation call center from scratch.  

Today I lead the Commercial team at Atrium Hospitality and have the pleasure of creating synergies between Sales, Marketing, Revenue Management, and eCommerce, and I thank Daniel Abernethy for giving me that opportunity over 8 years ago.  

When I think about this award, I’m reminded that our industry is the most amazing industry for career growth, trying new things, being innovative and creative, and all in an environment that thrives on customer service and hospitality. This award is motivation for me to continue growing and pushing boundaries.  

Q: Who would you like to thank for impacting your career?  

A: In my journey, there are many people who have played pivotal roles, most importantly Kurt Furlong, who has always supported my career growth, which required significant travel and several relocations.  Joe Kelly was my earliest mentor and taught me the value of networking and lasting relationships.  

At Atrium, Daniel Abernethy allowed me the freedom to be innovative and think unconventionally. In the early stages of Atrium, we worked on an idea to do sales differently, more efficiently.  We called it the Enterprise Sales Organization, and while we weren’t quite ready for prime time, the pandemic required us to launch it at 80% baked. Rob Mangiarelli, current president at Atrium, provides me the resources, freedom, and support to be successful.  My colleagues at Atrium, especially Gissell Moronta, Micheal Feldman, and Renee Lubinski exemplify the power of teamwork and collaboration, and have been invaluable companions throughout this journey. I wouldn’t be here without them.  

Q: What is your guiding philosophy?  

A: My leadership philosophy is balanced between results and culture. I believe you need to communicate clear vision and direction, use both data and experience to develop a strategy, be disciplined to create actions plans and hold each other accountable, and accept failures as lessons learned.  While I’m passionate about results and action, I know that I can’t be successful without a brilliant and confident team who challenges the status quo, takes calculated risks, and celebrates successes. We try to foster an environment where people love what they do because they’re doing it with us. I have a painting in my office that says, ‘Work Hard, Be Kind’ and that’s a good summation.  

Q: What career advice do you have for our rising sales leaders?  

A: Here are my top five tips for rising sales leaders:  

  1. Take risks, both in your business decisions and your career journey. Don’t wait until you’re 100% ready; you can learn on the fly and pivot if needed. 
  2. Observe people and learn from them. I’ve gained more from watching both good and bad leadership than from reading self-improvement books. 
  3. Appreciate the value of data and learn to use it to make decisions and tell your story. 
  4. Embrace change and look for opportunities to be the driving force behind change. 
  5. Recognize that you can’t be successful on your own. Surround yourself with people who make you better.  

Q: Looking back on your numerous accomplishments, is there a particular moment or experience that is especially memorable or meaningful to you? 

A: Several times I’ve had the opportunity to launch a department from conception to execution. My first experience was a 40-seat reservation call center for Lodgian.  

At the time, I had never seen the inside of a call center and I didn’t even know how to make a reservation in the system we were about to use, so I started by reading the manual, and then hired someone who had experience with call centers. We were successful because we didn’t have preconceived notions on how call centers run. We simply built it using common sense. Next up was the early stages of revenue management and I had the opportunity to help create the resources, reports, and processes that became the basis of what we still do today.  

Most recently I joined Atrium, an amazing company that promotes innovation as one of our core values. Early in the company’s start, we invested in business intelligence to help us view data wholistically rather than in the parts that are served up by brands or third-party data providers. Then, we launched what I believe is the best sales organization in the industry, which includes almost 100 fully remote sales managers, lead catchers, and group rooms coordinators who have the freedom to stay focused on the task at hand while relying on their property-level teammates to foster relationships and identify new business.  

Q: How did you get involved with HSMAI? 

A: My first experience with HSMAI was participating in the Executive Round Tables, which are excellent!  There’s nothing better than being in a room full of your peers, sharing best practices, learning from each other, and realizing that you’re not alone in what keeps you up at night.  

Shaping the Future of Hospitality: Key Takeaways from HSMAI Americas Faculty Forums

HSMAI Foundation hosted a series of three Americas Faculty forums, with faculty specializing in hospitality sales, marketing, and revenue education. We gathered each group to discuss emerging trends, prevailing challenges, and how HSMAI and the HSMAI Foundation can partner to shape the future of hospitality education. These discussions highlighted a shift towards integrating technological advancements and strategic thinking into the curriculum. 

Evolving Trends in Hospitality Education 

A key trend that emerged from the forums is the integration of digital assets and artificial intelligence (AI) into educational frameworks. As the hospitality sector evolves, there’s a marked shift towards a holistic approach that combines marketing, sales, and revenue management. The focus is now on developing commercial practitioners who are adept across various domains rather than in single specialized areas. 

Challenges Faced by Hospitality Faculties 

One of the prominent challenges discussed was keeping academic programs aligned with the rapidly changing landscape of the hospitality industry. The faculties are tasked with producing graduates who are not only academically proficient but also industry-ready, particularly in nuanced fields like revenue management. Balancing the infusion of cutting-edge technology with foundational strategic business practices remains a critical challenge for educators.  

Innovations and Solutions 

In response to these challenges, there is a notable push towards innovative educational models. Programs that integrate marketing, revenue management, and broader commercial courses are being developed to better prepare students for industry realities. Initiatives like commercial case competitions are being introduced to stimulate real-world problem-solving skills. Moreover, the concept of total revenue management, which applies theoretical practices to optimize revenue across diverse products and services, is gaining traction. Across all three disciplines the educators were most often partnering with industry through guest speaker programs, with class projects not far behind.  

HSMAI’s Role 

HSMAI and the HSMAI Foundation are pivotal in bridging the gap between academia and industry. We offer invaluable resources such as case studies, scholarships, and paid internship opportunities, enhancing student engagement and curriculum development. Additionally, we facilitate industry engagement through guest speakers and faculty internships, providing real-world insights that are crucial for an up-to-date curriculum. When asked how to encourage students to pursue careers in Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization, here is how they ranked opportunities: 


Thank you to the faculty from participating colleges and universities:  

  • Boston University 
  • Central Washington Univ & Highline College  
  • Cornell University 
  • East Carolina University 
  • Ferris State University 
  • Howard County Community College 
  • ITHQ 
  • Johnson & Wales University 
  • Missouri State University 
  • Montclair State University 
  • Morgan State University 
  • New Mexico State University  
  • Purdue University Fort Wayne  
  • San Jose State University 
  • Scottsdale Community College 
  • St John’s University  
  • Texas A&M University  
  • University of Delaware 
  • University of Denver 
  • University of Houston 
  • Virginia State University 

15 Tips for Finding Me-Time in This Busy World

Michael Estrin, Group Sales Manager, The Dupont Circle, HSMAI Rising Sales Leader Council Member

Being in hospitality sales can create a very busy environment where we don’t take time for ourselves. Providing time for ourselves can let us become better at our job. I recently discussed this with my fellow Rising Sales Leader Council Members.

Micro Steps for Self-Care 

1. Nature Walk: Grab those moments to stroll outdoors, breathe fresh air, and reset. 

2. Office Stroll: Periodically stand up, stretch a bit, and walk around your workspace. 

3. Empathy Break: While walking around, check-in on colleagues and teammates.  

4. Add a Soundtrack: Put on those AirPods and listen to uplifting songs. 

5. Lunch Break: Enjoy your meal—alone or with a colleague—and make yourself unavailable. This brief escape can give you the recharge you need for the rest of your day. 

6. Find the Sun: Especially if your workspace lacks natural light, get out and soak up the sun. 

7. Small Fitness Breaks: Introduce movement like quick walks, push-ups between emails, or step challenges to get away from the computer screen periodically. 

8. Digital Detox: After a busy day, try to turn off notifications. 


Enhancing Productivity in Sales 

9. Client Prioritization: Begin your day attending to your most likely to sign prospects. 

10. Task Management: Use an Excel file or a task manager to list out and prioritize your tasks for the day. 

11. Time Blocking: Protect your calendar. If people tend to overbook, try blocking 15-minute increments. 

12. The 80-20 Rule: Focus 80% of your time on tasks that yield the most significant results, and 20% on the rest. 


3 Tips to Improve Your Day-to-Day Routine 

13. Set Intentions: Start your day with purpose and clarity about what you wish to achieve. 

14. Morning Gym: Kick-start your morning with a workout session.  

15. Post-Work Exercise: Engage in post-work workouts, alone or with colleagues. It has the added benefit to help you switch off from work mode. 


Learn More:  


Questions for your team: 

  1. Can creating time for yourself lead to a greater sales performance for your organization? 
  2. What are your micro steps to creating time for yourself after a busy workday/week?
  3. How do you manage your sales funnel to create a more productive day?
  4. What is one thing that you took away from the Megan Millers Ted Talk and how will you incorporate it in your day-to-day life?

Wellness in Hospitality

By Meredith Pittman, CHDM, Manager of Marketing & Digital Strategy, Remington Hospitality, Rising Marketing Leaders Council Member 

The global pandemic triggered an unprecedented acceleration in the importance of wellness within the hospitality sector. Notably, the wellness tourism market value reached nearly $731.36 billion in 2022, marking a CAGR of nearly 4% since 2017. With projections suggesting that this market will grow to $1.2 trillion by 2027, the question is, how are hotels adapting to meet this growth? I brought this question to the HSMAI Rising Marketing Leader Council for discussion.  

1. The Evolving Guest Focus on Wellness

Since 2020, the lens through which guests view wellness has undergone significant transformation. Properties with a focus on outdoor activities, such as hiking skiing, and mountain biking witnessed a dramatic rise in demand during the COVID era. However, this demand is slowly reverting to pre-pandemic levels.  

Other hotels, away from parks and outdoor recreation, are integrating technology to enhance the guest experience, with innovations like air purifiers and in-room water filters becoming more common. 

2. Incorporating Wellness in Marketing Strategies

Many establishments are weaving wellness into their brand stories or highlighting wellness in their experiences. For instance, some brands emphasize their proximity to parks or fitness centers. Complimentary wellness offerings like beach deck yoga sessions or hosting events such as half-marathons are gaining traction. Partnerships efforts, such as partnerships with nonprofits or local guides, add layers of authenticity to the wellness narrative. Moreover, an increasing number of hotels are offering wellness rentals like bikes and record players, as well as Peloton programs. Sustainability is another facet of wellness, with some properties emphasizing aspects like farm-to-table dining experiences.

3. Looking Ahead to 2024

As we approach 2024, the wellness trend is poised for further evolution. Hotels anticipate increased requests for healthier food and breakfast options and a broader array of wellness activities. This underscores the fact that wellness in hospitality is not just a passing phase but an enduring shift in guest preferences. 

Learn more:  


Questions for your team:  

  1. How has your guest’s focus on wellness changed since 2020? 
  2. What wellness features or activations have you seen that interest you as a traveler?  
  3. How is wellness thoughtfully implemented (or how could it be) in your marketing strategies? Can it only be implemented at luxury & lifestyle properties? 
  4. How do you anticipate the wellness focus changing for 2024? 

Demystifying AI: HSMAI’s Curate Preview  

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

In March, I wrote: Generative AI is rapidly becoming an asset in the hospitality industry. It can quickly help improve efficiency, identify customer trends and preferences, and create an even more personalized experience for guests. To get the full benefit of the new technology, however, hotel companies will need to spend time and money to rethink their business processes and invest in technology solutions.   

AI continues to be an opportunity and a bit of an enigma. On November 7th in Long Beach, we’ll give our organizational members an opportunity to take a deep dive into Demystifying AI at HSMAI’s Curate.  Take a look at the jam-packed agenda we’ve put together for this executive insight forum.   

We’ll kick off the day hearing from Google’s Ben Heller with an overview of artificial intelligence, level setting us for the rest of our day.   

Next, Felix Laboy from Shift Digital will moderate our Case Study Session, bringing a wealth of industry experience to offer insights and a Q&A with case study presenters sharing real life applications:   

  • Isaac Gerstenzang, Atlantis  
  • Tammie Carlisle, Milestone 
  • Jacqueline Nunley, Salesforce 
  • Mercedes Blanco, The Hotel Network 

We’ll then get some legal insights from Erin Snodgrass who will be Addressing the Legal Maze of AI Integration.   

After lunch, we’ll be joined by Jessica Jarvis from ZS Associates, who will facilitate an interactive session outlining framework of how organizations can adopt AI platforms and navigate change.  

Last, but certainly not least, Terry Jones, the founder of and Founding Chairman of will share insights into what it takes to innovate and lead in today’s fast-paced environment.  

For those still on the fence about attending, consider this: Curate isn’t just another event. It’s an opportunity to be at the forefront of AI’s evolution in hospitality, to network with likeminded professionals, and to prepare oneself for the imminent AI-driven future. 

There’s still time to be a part of this transformative experience. Join us and be a part of the conversation for the next inflection point in technology.  

13 Insights on the Past, Present and Future of Revenue Management

By Libbi Carlson, CRME, Vice President of Revenue Strategy, Remington Hospitality, HSMAI Revenue Optimization Advisory Board Member 

At this time of year, as we’re working on budgets, we look to the past and to the future. So, I brought questions of the past, present, and future to the HSMAI Revenue Optimization Advisory Board. During the discussion board members shared these valuable insights and pieces of advice.  

Advice we’d give our younger selves:  

  1. Continuously learn and go beyond revenue management. 
  2. Gain hands-on experience in various hotel departments. 
  3. Establish boundaries and work-life balance. 
  4. Seek out mentors early in your career. 

What keeps us up at night: 

  1. Tackling unrealistic expectations, especially during budget seasons. 
  2. Managing heavy workloads without compromising team well-being. 
  3. Retaining skilled revenue management staff in a competitive market. 
  4. Aligning strategies between commercial and operational teams. 
  5. Enhancing reporting and analysis to inform decision-making. 

Our hopes for the future of revenue management:  

  1. Embracing technology for efficiency and streamlining.
  2. Broadening revenue management to cover all hotel revenue streams. 
  3. Advanced, integrated reporting for better insights. 
  4. Stronger inter-departmental collaboration for holistic growth. 

Read Further:  

Here are the 5 Big Things That Keep Hotel Sales Managers Up at Night 

The Future of Revenue Management = Total Revenue Management 

The Future of Revenue Management for Hotels: A Look into the Crystal Ball 

How technology is transforming revenue management 

Questions for your team 

  1. If you could turn back time, what would the “now” you tell your “then” self as they started their career in revenue strategy?  
  2. What keeps you up at night, “now”?  
  3. What is the one thing you hope to see in the future revenue strategy world? 

Incorporating Commercial Focus into 2024 Hotel Budget Planning

By Amy Infante, CEO & Visionary, GitGo, HSMAI Sales Advisory Board Member  

We face a transformative period as we enter budget planning for 2024. While the process remains, the focus and strategies are evolving. The HSMAI Sales Advisory Board recently met to dig into the best practices.

1. Holistic Perspective is Key:

Budgeting isn’t just about top-line numbers or expenses; it’s about having a holistic perspective. This requires understanding where profits are originating and adapting accordingly.   

2. Technology Investment for Data-Driven Decision Making:

One of the best practices that stood out was investing in technology, not just for efficiency but for obtaining a comprehensive data perspective. Centralized platforms are essential for some organizations. They are treated as coworkers, helping to back every decision with data.

3. Commercial Alignment:

Do all team members share a common goal? Metrics such as top-line revenue, market share, and productivity can be complemented with other factors like online reputation and turnover. This comprehensive approach ensures that everyone works in harmony.

4. Agile Budgeting:

Dynamic forecasting allows for a more fluid and adaptive approach to static budgets. While numerical goals remain consistent, the strategies to achieve them must be nimble, adapting to changes throughout the year.

5. Sales and Marketing Synergy:

One suggestion was a monthly meeting involving all leaders, including the GM and F&B heads, aligning everyone on hotel performance and strategy. Using an agency model can enhance commercial alignment and speed up progress.

6. The Commercial Strategy Scorecard:

Look at both KPIs and alignment, some companies have a scorecard that is updated every day. 

7. Guarding Against Data Overwhelm:

While data is essential, there’s a danger in getting too tied up and not acting. It’s also important to ensure that the data collected is truly relevant. 


Questions to Bring to Your Team:  

  1. How is your organization changing the process of how you plan for 2024 tying in a more commercial approach?   
  2. In an era where customer experience is paramount, how are your hotels reallocating budget to prioritize initiatives that enhance guest satisfaction, loyalty, and overall revenue?  
  3. How is your organization harnessing data analytics and technology, taking inspiration from other industries like e-commerce and finance, to make informed budgeting decisions that drive commercial success?
  4. What strategies are you adopting to ensure seamless alignment between sales and marketing teams, optimizing their budgets to maximize revenue generation?
  5. In light of disruptive changes brought on by recent global events, how can hotels incorporate agile budgeting practices, drawing inspiration from other industries, to adapt quickly to evolving market conditions and customer preferences?

5 Perspectives on Increasing Sales Efficiency: Rising Leaders Discuss Creativity in Sales

Danielle Fournier, Sales Manager, The Inverness Denver, a Hilton Golf & Spa Resort, HSMAI Rising Sales Leader Council Member 

With our industry facing staffing struggles, sales teams have had to wear many hats. How do we increase our sales productivity while managing our time? Hotel sales processes have undoubtedly seen changes in attaining new business post pandemic. During a HSMAI Rising Sales Leaders recent discussion, members highlighted fresh perspectives on the dynamic sales environment. 

1. A Shift in Engagement 

With increased attendance at conferences and events, the engagement levels have significantly increased. Perhaps this surge can be attributed to the limited time prospects have in the market. It’s not just about being present at an event but making every second count. 

2. Traditional Methods with Upgrades 

Despite advancements and the shift towards digital, rising leaders still expressed a heavy reliance on phone conversations. Virtual meetings platforms have also become indispensable tools. These traditional methods combined with modern platforms bridge the gap, offering both convenience and the much-needed personal touch. 

3. Flexible Work 

Sales professionals today aren’t just selling a product or service. Their roles have expanded, encompassing a broader spectrum of responsibilities. In this ever-evolving marketplace, flexibility isn’t just an advantage; it’s a necessity. Quick responses and a genuine willingness to adapt are now core to successful sales strategies. 

4. The Personal Connection  

Beyond the cold calls and virtual demos, there lies the significant art of forging personal connections. To understand client needs, face-to-face interactions remain irreplaceable. It’s about genuine understanding and building trust. 

5. Networking & Dedication 

Amidst all these changes and strategies, two things remain constant: the undying importance of networking and dedicating exclusive time for new business. It’s about creating avenues, building bridges, and forging relationships that last. 

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