Insights from HSMAI’s Marketing Professional of the Year – Corporate: Jay Hubbs

Jay Hubbs, CHDM, Vice President-Advertising, Marketing, Innovation and Analytics for BWH Hotels, will receive the corporate Marketing Professional of the Year during HSMAI’s Marketing Strategy Conference in Toronto on June 27. Jay has over 30 years of experience in hospitality and travel sales and marketing. In his current role he oversees BWH Hotels’ consumer-facing marketing, advertising and the award-winning Best Western Rewards program.   

Jay holds a BS in Hotel Administration from Cornell University as well as an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2018, Jay was named to HSMAI’s Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds and sits on HSMAI’s Americas Board. 

How did you get your start in the industry? 

My career really started with Cornell’s Hotel School (now the Nolan School of Hotel Administration at the SC Johnson College of Business). I saw it as an opportunity to get a solid undergraduate business degree with a specialization in hospitality (and travel) which I had a passion for. My first hotel jobs were at the Statler Hotel on campus and at the Denver Marriott City Center (now the Hilton Denver City Center) where I got plenty of exercise as a bellman and valet.  

How did you get involved with HSMAI? 

I was working for Expedia and Hotwire at the time and heard about the amazing opportunities afforded to people in HSMAI to broaden their knowledge, expertise and network. I applied to join the Revenue Management Advisory Board in [we would need Juli to tell us what year?!  I think it was 2007 or 2008?] where I got tasked to plan the Revenue Management Conference (now ROC!) in Orlando that following year.  Nothing like jumping into the deep end with both feet!  

During your time in the industry, how have you seen the marketing space evolve? 

How much time (or space) do we have? When I started the internet was nascent – Expedia launched 3 years after I graduated from college, Google went live 2 years later and the iPhone almost 10 years after that (am I really that old?). The advent of online resources and personal computers in everyone’s pockets changed the marketing landscape forever. As marketers it meant we had a lot more data to work with to convert people to guests staying at our properties, and at the same time a lot more partner opportunities to juggle. It’s been a great ride to be on and I’m excited about what the future holds for our industry.      

How would you describe your approach to marketing strategy? 

I would say there are two primary forces – knowing your audiences and your products. On the audience side it entails understanding who your guests are, what motivates them to travel, what channels do they prefer and what price points resonate with them. With your product it’s important to understand the strengths and weaknesses versus your competition, where your hotels are showing up ‘on the shelf’, the relevant price points and what levers you have available.  To compete effectively you have to have a great team (as I’ve been lucky to have throughout my career!) that can understand both forces and help deliver outcomes that are business drivers across the organization. 

What would you say has been the best moment of your career? 

I have been very fortunate throughout my career with several bosses and mentors who have helped me, and our teams and businesses achieve new heights, as well as was honored to be an HSMAI Top 25 back in 2018.  But this honor might be the top so far – we shall see! Onward and upward! 

Unleashing the Power of Motivation: The HSMAI Sales Rising Leader Council on Keeping Teams Inspired and Productive

Nicole Lazo, National Sales Manager, Terranea Resort, HSMAI Rising Sales Leader Council  

How do you stay motivated? How do you motivate others? With the pandemic in our rear-view, and a focus on work life balance more prevalent than ever before, keeping our teams producing without the fear of “burn out” has been a continual focus for sales teams. I brought this topic to a recent HSMAI Sales Rising Leader Council to find out, what are their motivation secrets? 

How We Motivate Our Teams:  

  1. Celebrating the little wins or micro-goals as much as the big wins!  
  2. Sharing big picture vision with the team, so we are all working towards the same goal.    
  3. Team competitions – but instead of us vs. you try – us vs. us last year.  
  4. Setting attainable Goals – daily/weekly/monthly – day of the week motivation 
  5. Build Trust – show up, get in the trenches, and be ready for the fire alarm to support when needed!  
  6. In the current climate of talent, negative motivation doesn’t work as well.  

How We Are Staying Motivated:  

  1. Commit to yourself first.  
  2. Go on daily walk or some activity that takes you outside/staying active.  
  3. Stay motivated by purpose, passion, and meaning. 
  4. Believe in your product.  
  5. Thinking about how our work ensures jobs and livelihood for staff.  
  6. Incentives – winning prizes for staff.  

I met Dane Sanders, a public speaker, business coach and Forbes trainer, and had the opportunity to discuss the importance of ‘Culture’ within teams & partnerships. Dane says: When employees love their job, they become unstoppable in their work. From my time with Dane, I’ve learned how motivation can truly help people get out of their own way, clearing a path and providing confidence. In the words of Dane: When people feel stressed or unmotivated it’s affecting your bottom line.  

Further Reading:  


Exploring Sales Productivity and ROI

Hotel management company sales and marketing executives recently gathered to share their insights and experiences on sales productivity and return on investment (ROI) during a recent virtual HSMAI Hotel Management Company Sales & Marketing Executive Roundtable. We used findings from our latest research survey as the jumping off point, discussing the expectation of ROI for sales managers, unique attributes of ROI formulas, and best practices. The conversation provided valuable insights into the challenges and strategies employed by hotel companies to optimize sales productivity. 

Customized Approach to ROI 

One key point of discussion was the expectation for ROI for sales managers. From our survey, the responses varied, with a majority falling within the 11-12: 1 ratio for on-property sales managers, and a slightly lower <10-12: 1 range for catering managers.  


However, participants emphasized when calculating ROI considering each company’s specific circumstances, such as the size of the hotel, market segment, and average rate. Notably, turnover is also a critical factor, highlighting the importance of accounting for potential staff changes throughout the year. 

Complexities of Measuring ROI 

There was a rich conversation regarding the unique attributes and variables used in ROI formulas. Market segment, average daily rate, business travel, group contracts, catering, and room rental were among the factors frequently mentioned. The discussion shed light on the complexities of measuring ROI accurately, considering the diverse nature of the hotel companies and the varying dynamics between different sales roles. Below are the survey results on the importance of segments when measuring ROI.  


 Hybrid and Remote Sales Team 

The conversation touched upon the topic of remote sales managers, revealing differing perspectives. While some participants believed that remote sellers performed at a higher level due to fewer interruptions, others mentioned encountering pushback from operators and general managers in adopting remote sales positions. As discussed in the HSMAI Foundation’s State of Talent report, the hybrid model is emerging as a popular approach. 

5 Best Practices 

  1. Sales productivity: Focus on improving sales productivity and then explore ways to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in sales processes and activities. 
  2. Turnover calculation: When setting goals, factor in the turnover rate within the sales team throughout the year. Consider adding a percentage on top of the goals to accommodate expected turnover. 
  3. Lead qualifying and response time: Recognize the challenge of longer lead response times due to staffing struggles and develop effective qualification processes to manage increased leads. 
  4. Market-specific ROIs: Adjust ROI calculations based on demand within the hotel and the market. 
  5. Revisiting goals: Since historical data is no longer accurate, allow flexibility in goal setting by revisiting goals within the year based on changing market conditions and demands.  

By considering these insights and best practices, sales teams can work towards improved sales productivity, goal setting, and ROI. 

Many thanks to Kalibri Labs for sponsoring this roundtable and for all the participant companies: Aimbridge Hospitality; Atlific Hotels; Atrium Hospitality; Blue Water Development; COHO Services; CoralTree Hospitality; Crescent Hotels and Resorts; First Hospitality; GF Hotels & Resorts; Giri Hotel Management; Greenwood Hospitality/Hotel Equities; Kessler Collection; Lodging Dynamics Hospitality Group; Pacifica Hotels; Parks Hospitality Group; Peachtree Hospitality Management; PM Hotel Group; Regency Hotel Management; Remington Hotels; and Vesta Hospitality.


Insights From HSMAI Vanguard Award Winner Andrew Rubinacci

Andrew Rubinacci, EVP, Commercial & Revenue Strategy at Aimbridge, will receive the Vanguard Award during HSMAI ROC Americas, June 28, part of HSMAI Commercial Strategy Week in Toronto. Andrew is a seasoned hospitality veteran with over 25 years of experience and considered by many in the industry as one of the foremost revenue management and global distribution experts anywhere. He serves as Chair Elect of the HSMAI Americas Board of Directors and has served on on the boards of HEDNA, Worldres, Open Travel, Roomkey, and the Dedman College of Hospitality at Florida State University.  

How did you get your start in the industry? 

During my sophomore year of high school, there was a big book about careers, and I stumbled upon hotel manager. Intrigued, I pursued my studies in hotel management and had the opportunity to talk to a regional sales and marketing professional. This encounter led me to develop an interest in marketing, prompting me to pursue a second major in the field. While initially on the operations route, had an informal conversation with a new boss that felt more like an interview. This interaction ultimately led me to venture into revenue management at IHG. 

Within IHG, I progressed from revenue management to the role of a General Manager. Subsequently, IHG underwent a transition, being acquired by Bristol. During my time at Bristol, I gained expertise in internet-related activities, particularly e-commerce. As Bristol transformed into Meristar, a precursor to Aimbridge, my skills and experiences caught the attention of IHG, leading to my rehiring. This time, my focus shifted to addressing the challenges of OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) and delving into the realm of distribution, with a particular emphasis on commercial aspects. 

How did you get involved with HSMAI? 

I became involved with HSMAI through my work in revenue management and distribution at Meristar. I realized there was a lack of opportunities for revenue managers. Consequently, I played a role in establishing the International Revenue Managers Association, which eventually merged with HSMAI. It was during this period that the Revenue Optimization Conference (ROC) was initiated. 

What has been the guiding philosophy of your career?  

When it comes to my guiding philosophy, there are a few principles that have always been integral to my approach. First, I believe in treating people the way I would want to be treated. Making decisions promptly and taking action has also been a key aspect of my work style. Embracing change and viewing it as an opportunity rather than a source of fear is another fundamental belief I hold. 

What is your advice for young professionals in the industry? 

For aspiring young professionals in the industry, I offer the following advice: work diligently and seize every opportunity that comes your way. Sometimes, opportunities may not be immediately recognizable until you embrace them. I recall a situation where a General Manager requested assistance with drafting bylaws for an employee council. Drawing from my experiences in college organizations, I took the task seriously. Consequently, this commitment led to further opportunities, including being invited to the flagship hotel and eventually meeting with the Vice President, which changed my trajectory. 

I love the hospitality industry because it offers a dynamic environment where I continuously learn about diverse places, people, and cultures. I’ve had the opportunity to live abroad and grow my careerI couldn’t imagine pursuing any other career path. 

Elevating the Sales Discipline: 10 Takeaways for Leveraging Technology

Chris Hardy, CRME, Vice President of Commercial Strategy at Parks Hospitality Group, HSMAI Sales Advisory Board 

In today’s rapidly evolving landscape, technology plays a pivotal role in transforming the sales discipline. The integration of technology into the sales process is not just a trend but a necessary step toward staying competitive and achieving success. The HSMAI Sales Advisory Board recently explored the impact of technology on sales and its benefits. 

10 Key Takeaways: 

  1. Technology is an essential part of the sales process and should be embraced strategically to enhance sales performance. 
  2. Deriving insights from data is a valuable aspect of using technology in sales, and incorporating AI into CRM systems can streamline decision-making. 
  3. Incorporating the right technology throughout the sales cycle can allow sales teams to focus on the most qualified prospects. 
  4. Proper training is crucial to ensure sales teams can effectively use technology platforms to increase productivity while not losing the personal touch or consultative approach to building meaningful relationships. 
  5. Measuring ROI through usage reports and revenue tracking helps optimize technology investments and avoid overwhelming sales teams with unnecessary tools. 
  6. Fragmentation and systems not connecting to each other is a pain point that hinders adoption of technology.  
  7. Implementing the role of a product czar or champion, who supplements vendor capabilities and guides the best use of tech platforms, can improve adoption, and enhance their effectiveness. 
  8. Utilizing technology for internal communication can improve efficiency of remote teams. 
  9. Technology can impact the hiring process by emphasizing the importance of candidates’ mindset towards efficiency and time management. 
  10. Pre-hire assessments, business test cases, and screensharing during interviews can assess candidates’ technological knowledge and suitability for the role. 

Further reading:  

Revolutionizing Hotel Sales Functions with Technology ( 

Questions to Bring to Your Team:  

  1. How are your team’s using technology in their sales process? 
  2. What platforms/tools have you implemented and finding successful for prospecting and lead generation? 
  3. How are you training and measuring the impact of using these platforms? 
  4. How are you overcoming resistance to adoption? 
  5. How has technology proficiency changed your recruiting and hiring practices? 

HSMAI Perspective: Building a Talent Pipeline: The HSMAI Foundation’s Impact

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

Engaging, attracting, and developing talent to elevate the sales, marketing and revenue management professionals in the global hospitality is at the core of the HSMAI Foundation. In addition, nurturing the talent pipeline was one of the top trends identified in the annual HSMAI Foundation State of Talent Report. This month, I want to highlight two HSMAI Foundation initiatives contributing to this endeavor – the HSMAI Foundation Global Collegiate Case Competition and the Mike Dimond Career Success Grants Program. These initiatives along with others HSMAI Foundation programs are playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of hospitality leadership. 

HSMAI Foundation Global Collegiate Case Competition 

HSMAI Foundation Global Collegiate Case Competition serves as a catalyst in building a talent pipeline by providing a platform for hospitality students to demonstrate their strategic and critical thinking skills, and to apply their classroom learnings to real-world scenarios, fostering innovation and adaptability in an ever-evolving industry. By participating, students gain exposure to cutting-edge marketing practices, network with industry leaders, and showcase their capabilities to potential employers and collaborators. 

Celebrating the 2022 Winners 

In 2022, we received many high-quality submissions from around the world. After careful evaluation by a panel of industry experts, followed by live presentations to the HSMAI Foundation Board, we declared two winning teams: Republic Polytechnic in the undergraduate competition and Purdue University at the graduate level. 

Both campaigns impressed the judges with creativity, strategic thinking, and execution.  

Announcing the 2023 Competition 

Building on the success of last year, we are thrilled to announce the upcoming 2023 HSMAI Foundation Global Collegiate Case Competition. Open to all hospitality students across the globe, this competition offers a platform to display skills and gain industry recognition. We will provide participants with a challenging real-life case. Stay tuned for further updates on the official launch date and guidelines. 

The Mike Dimond Career Success Grants 

Mike Dimond was one of the top hotel marketing executives in the United States. He is a member of the HSMAI Hall of Fame and honored as one of “The 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality & Travel.” His family with the HSMAI Foundation created this program to expand and enhance the development opportunities available to hospitality students interested in careers in commercial strategy. Two Career Success Grants will be awarded to deserving hospitality students who are enrolled in a degree-seeking hospitality program. The deadline to apply is May 31st. 

HSMAI’s Hospitality Marketing Case Competition and Mike Dimond Grants contribute to building a robust talent pool within the hospitality industry. Through these programs, HSMAI empowers students by providing opportunities for development, networking, and exposure to real-world challenges. As the hospitality commercial disciplines continue to evolve, HSMAI initiatives will play a key role engaging, attracting, and developing future hospitality leaders to elevate the industry. 

Navigating Change Management

Debra Wolman, Group Vice President, Americas, Duetto, HSMAI Revenue Optimization Advisory Board Member  

In the climate of rapid technological innovations, change management is critical for hospitality companies. Successfully implementing change requires a strategic approach, an innovative mindset, and the ability to bring stakeholders on board. I met with the HSMAI Revenue Optimization Advisory Board to explore effective strategies for change management. I started the session polling the group. Perhaps surprisingly, 95% of attendees indicated that there were things their organization could have done to better prepare for a recent change that could have made the transition easier. We then delved into best practices for change management.  

Top Six Takeaways: 

  1. Embrace change as a constant and foster a culture that thrives on innovation.
  2. Recognize that not everyone responds to change in the same way and promote a learning mindset to facilitate smoother transitions.
  3. Engage stakeholders early on, listen to their concerns, and actively involve them in shaping the change.
  4. Overcome resistance to change through constant communication, highlighting the “why” and the benefits for individuals, teams, and the organization.
  5. Start with the skeptics and work towards converting them, emphasizing individual ownership and responsibility for successful change implementation.
  6. Learn from past experiences and continuously improve your change management strategies.

Change management is an ongoing process, and learning from past experiences is key. Take time to evaluate the outcomes of previous changes, analyzing what went well and what could be improved. Use these insights to refine your change management strategies for future initiatives. Building a culture that values continuous learning and improvement will enhance your organization’s ability to adapt and thrive in a rapidly evolving industry. 

Further Reading:  

Questions for your team:  

  • Think back to the last time your company introduced either a significant change in process or a new system/program. 
  • Do you believe there were things your organization could have done to better prepare for the change or that could have made the transition easier? 
  • How do we help future revenue optimization managers to embrace a culture of change? 

Corporate Culture and Values Matter

Talent issues continue to dominate headlines and high-level corporate discussions. The need to restore trust in hospitality companies is essential to attract and retain qualified professionals. 

Environmental, Social, and Governance 

CSR, particularly in the areas of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues have been the focus of numerous conference panels. Organizations perceived as socially responsible benefit with increased loyalty, engagement, and brand image. 58% of U.S. employees consider ESG issues when choosing a place to work. Sustainability initiatives and environmentally responsible practices are also increasingly important to guests and meeting planners.  

This has encouraged hotels to market their offerings – sustainable, regenerative, and locally immersive travel experiences – as consistent with their corporate values. Transparency is expected from organizations on how they address their roles within the communities in which they do business. Talent-facing culture and values initiatives have become more significant as hotels face labor shortages that disrupt business operations. Employee engagement increases when people feel their values match those of their company. 

Diversity and Equity  

A hotel’s diversity, equity, and inclusion and belonging (DEI&B) policies are also guest considerations, especially impacting business travel and conference venue choices. In addition, inequity in pay and promotions have been shown to increase turnover and lower engagement. 62% of U.S. workers say they consider DEI initiatives when considering a job offer. 

Inclusion and Belonging There is increasing evidence that diversity and equity efforts can fail when the culture of the organization is not inclusive. Hiring people from historically underrepresented communities is not enough to make an inclusive and equitable environment. True inclusion and belonging takes a culture that celebrates and values differences and works to identify and address inequity and biases. 

The HSMAI Foundation commissioned research in September 2022 to learn how Black hospitality professionals viewed their experiences. All respondents were in commercial positions at the manager level and above. The research showed that of respondents:  

    • 78% thought their managers were not equipped to manage a culturally diverse workforce.
    • 78% indicated they could not thrive in their current work environment. 
    • 83% stated they did not receive the same compensation packages as their White counterparts. 


Representation matters and several hotel companies and associations have begun to address the fact that women and people of color make up a high percentage of hospitality employees yet are underrepresented in senior leadership and investor or ownership positions. Programs like those at Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, AH&LA’s Castell Project, Women in Travel THRIVE, and Tourism Diversity Matters have a focus on moving women and African Americans into leadership positions.   

“While there is still work to do, we are proud to see the industry making DE&I a priority and look forward to tracking continued progress in 2023 and beyond,” Peggy Berg. – HN, August 3, 2022  

Calls to Action: 

  • Review your CSR and ESG policies and efforts. 
  • Are you effectively communicating them to guests and employees? 
  • Put practices in place that ensure equitable practices for attracting, onboarding, compensating, promoting, and retaining talent.  
  • Audit the diversity of your leadership. Be transparent with results and create pathways for advancement.  
  • Work with experts to assess your inclusivity and accessibility and ensure your space is inclusive and accessible for all.  

To read more about the top talent trends, download  The State of Hotel Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization Talent 2022-23: HSMAI Foundation Special Report. 

Global Trends & Evolving Customers…and what they mean for hotel marketing

Steven Van Belleghem is a customer experience enthusiast with a mission to inspire companies to become more customer centric. He’s dedicated his 23-year career to understanding customer behavior and translating that into insights for companies. He’s written five books (working on a 6th!), speaks on this topic around the world, and shares content on social media to ensure people have access to this vital information. In addition, he’s started customer experience related businesses, become an investor in a customer experience start up, is on the Board of several Belgian companies, and is a part time professor.   

Steven will be joining us in Toronto to present the keynote at the HSMAI Marketing Strategy Conference. He will address the global trends and evolving customers that hotel marketers are grappling with today and leave you with recommendations for your marketing efforts. His message is relevant to everyone who is excited about helping customers in a fantastic way.  

He recently shared his insights with HSMAI staff.  

Customer Experience vs. Customer Service  

One misunderstanding of customer experience is that it is the same as customer service. Many people see it as solving problems as efficiently as possible and believe if they do, then that is good customer experience. Customer experience is much broader than that – it gives people the feeling that they matter, that they’re special. In every interaction, we can create a fantastic customer experience. I like to take a strategic point of view. Customer experience involves every division of organization, and every employee could be an ambassador that makes customers feel great.  

Successful Customer Experience Goes Beyond the Product 

One example I can share of a company excelling at customer experience is from the real estate industry – this company builds student housing. Most companies in this industry just make sure that they build safe, nice rooms and then rent them out. This company decided to do more, to be a partner in life with the students. They help give them a successful start of their careers. They organize services around the student houses, including a mental health coach available 24/7, offer a variety of free classes on important life skills that you don’t get in university classes – job applications, soup making, drivers license, investing in crypto, etc. It’s fantastic because they don’t just think about the product but go beyond. They become a partner in life with customers creating a positive change.  

One Takeaway  

Effective empathy – not just empathy, that’s too vague in the business world – is important for a great customer experience. Effective empathy is a combination of fast feedback loops combined with fast action loops – you don’t wait months or excuses not to act upon data. Successful companies combine fast feedback and fast action – I’m super excited about this topic!  

AI and the Customer Experience 

Today we are talking too much about productivity gains of AI and how it will change how we work. I like to think about how people will use it to make decisions. How will people book hotels for instance – will it still be the website of hotel or a third-party platform or via an AI assistant? We will tell AI where we are going, what our family is like, and what we want in a hotel. We don’t want to see endless lists and sponsored links, I want to see something relevant to me. If I get a personalized recommendation, that will influence me. We need to ask what brands will get through AI filter and which will be blocked? What decisions do we need to make today to make sure we get through that system? That’s for me the most interesting thing about AI and customer experience.  

Three Tips for Capturing the Attention of Gen Z and Developing Brand Loyalty Today

Garrick Lee, Digital Marketing and Ecommerce Manager, Oneida Nation Enterprises, HSMAI Rising Marketing Leader Council  

Two recent reports from Skift and McKinsey highlighted that Gen Z is predicted to make up a third of global spending power by 2035. If this generation is left overlooked, hotel brands will potentially lose market share once this generation ramps up in their spending power. Hoteliers need to begin to find opportunities to begin to weave the fabric of their brand DNA into the Gen Z audience in order to create brand loyalists in the future. I brought this research to the HSMAI Rising Marketing Leader Council to talk about how we are marketing to Gen Z. 

Top Three Tips for Marketing to Gen Z 

1. Focus on experiences that have the twist of CSR values: Gen Z is looking for unique and immersive experiences when they travel. Sell and/or showcase experiences that will allow a guest to authentically connect with the local community with a twist of sustainability, heritage, etc. For example, if a property is a near a beach there can be a page on their website highlighting the experiences at property, but also feature organizations that host beach clean ups. Another example being a lei making class for a hotel in Hawaii to share insights into the Hawaiian culture and the significance of flower leis. Finding a hotels connection to a community and crafting an experience around it will grab the attention of Gen Z.   

2. Utilize unconventional social media platforms: Social media is a crucial part of any marketing strategy when targeting Gen Z. Utilize traditional platforms like Instagram and TikTok to showcase stunning visuals, videos, and promotional offers to capture their attention. Then, push the envelope with unconventional platforms such as Reddit and messenger apps to like Whatsapp to show up where Gen Z is.  

3. Be authentic and capitalize on guest engagement: Gen Z values authenticity, and it’s essential to create marketing initiatives and messaging that feel real and genuine. Consider shifting away from hiring photoshoot models and instead featuring real people in your campaigns to connect intentionally and authentically with this demographic. Tapping into guests whether it is in the form of using them as models, or leveraging their user generated content in marketing is another great way to drive brand loyalty.  

One interesting point that came out of the discussion is how generational preferences can blend across generations. So, while everyone (including us!) talks about late millennials and Gen Zers prioritizing experiences, many in the group mentioned they were seeing an increase Boomers spending time and money on experiences as well. Finding ways to capture the attention of Gen Z through marketing may have some generational crossover benefits as well.  

Further Reading