Insights From HSMAI Revenue Optimization Professional of the Year: Andres Reyes

Andres Reyes, director of revenue management at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, will receive the 2022 Single/Multi-Unit Revenue Optimization Professional of the Year Award during HSMAI ROC Americas, taking place June 29. “This is a once in a career type of recognition,” he said. “It is an absolute honor. I am beyond thankful for the support and encouragement from my team at Foxwoods Resort. I am also appreciative, as I was definitely set up for success from the experience and exposure during my time at MGM Resorts and Station Casinos.”

Reyes has been in the hospitality and gaming space for 10 years, involved with rebrands, revivals, grand openings, and more. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Las Vegas, he attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, majoring in business administration with a concentration in finance. Upon graduation, Reyes got started at MGM Resorts International, learning about the complexities of the business, data warehousing and business intelligence systems. Taking this experience, he went on to use his combined business and analytical skillset to numerous projects and initiatives upon moving to Station Casinos and now Foxwoods.

HSMAI: How did you get your start in the industry?

Andres Reyes: Completely by chance. Originally, I was planning on becoming a chartered financial analyst. Upon graduating, my older brother recommended that I apply for a revenue analyst position that was posted. At the time, I was already working at MGM Resorts International in their call center while going to UNLV, which helped me get my foot in the door. I decided to give it a shot and interviewed for it.

How did you get involved with HSMAI?

I have attended HSMAI events as a revenue manager at MGM Resorts and as a director of revenue management at Station Casinos and now Foxwoods Resort. I have been involved with the organization for about seven years now.

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

Customer data has become more accessible and usable than ever before. Key metrics have evolved to be more profit focused versus topline revenue focused. In the casino space, robust scoring and dynamic yielding mechanisms have increasingly replaced static direct mail.

How would you describe your approach to revenue management strategy?

I would consider myself a “full stack” revenue manager. Similar to a full stack engineer or developer, having knowledge of the technologies, technical skills, and business acumen needed to fully integrate and tailor individual components of systems and data definitely give me an advantage. Many revenue managers rely on prebuilt systems and operations and tend to get stuck with legacy and outdated practices.

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

Other than receiving this award, it’s being part of what we have been able to accomplish at Foxwoods Resort. I was one of many who played a pivotal role in driving transformational changes that have resulted in some of the highest profitability Foxwoods has seen in many years.

The enterprise has full visibility through models and dashboards built on the property’s business intelligence programs. Through all these joint initiatives and projects, the property can predict confidently how the casino and hotel will perform on any given day, also predicting other departments labor requirements based on these projections.

Sales and Marketing Executives Talk Strategy, Structure and Talent Best Practices

Compensation, competition and the convergence of sales, marketing, and revenue optimization — these are some of the hot topics discussed during HSMAI’s recent Hotel Management Company Sales and Marketing Executive Virtual Roundtable. Hotel management companies in attendance included: Athena Hospitality Group, Atlific Hotels, Claremont Companies, Coraltree Hospitality, Donohoe Hospitality Services, Kessler, Makr Hospitality, Marcus Hotels and Resorts, Parks Hospitality Group, Prism Hotels & Resorts, Remington Hotels, Sage Hospitality Group, Vista Host Hotels, and ZMC Hotels. The group also discussed talent best practices as well as other relevant themes impacting them today.

Talent Best Practices

The sales and marketing executives identified the following best practices related to developing, retaining, and attracting commercial talent:

  • Development
  • Setting weekly and monthly goals
  • Allowing the team to develop organically
  • Creating new roles for DOSM and having training and certifications before area DOSM promotion
  • Using the onboarding process to outline what success looks like for team members
  • Retention
  • Closing the office early on Fridays to reset
  • Training and corporate support from leadership; providing resources, empathy, and understanding of the team and their individual goals
  • Creating resources such as a reference guide that can assist new hires
  • Recruitment
  • Using recruiters for efficiencies
  • Being creative (i.e., use lodging and meals as part of compensation plan)
  • Favoring attitude over aptitude
  • Looking at talent in other industries
  • Implementing apprenticeships
  • Considering a hybrid approach to the work schedule

Strategy and Structure

Roundtable participants were also surveyed on various topics related to strategy and structure. The following provides their insights on post-COVID structural changes, convergence within the disciplines, and more.

  • What type of changes have you made in your structure in this post-COVID landscape?
    • Clustering some sales roles
    • Larger marketing and revenue management teams
    • DOSMs taking on regional assignments
    • Adjusting free sell dates
    • Centralized accounting
    • Moved from individual to group goals
  • What’s different in direct selling YTD 2022?
    • Closing is much faster
    • Very small booking windows
    • Virtual selling
    • Turnover in key accounts
    • Pipelines for future business are not optimal
  • What changes, if any, have you made as a result of “convergence” in sales, marketing, and revenue optimization?
    • Total alignment of goals and incentives; no separate goals by division
    • Improving sales acumen of revenue management and using data
    • Greater cadence in communication for commercial teams
    • Hiring a commercial team leader
    • Designing hybrid roles
  • How are you navigating a competitive market that is saturated with a single parent brand?
    • Making it seamless to work with us
    • Carving out a niche
    • Properly qualifying
    • Differentiating the team
    • Controlling our own digital marketing


When it comes to talent and staffing, roundtable participants discussed the health and wellness of their team as well as compensation.

  • How are you generally dealing with salary expectations today?
    • Ensuring we are adjusting base competitively
    • Aligning growth in ADR/revenue with growth in salary
    • Sharing positions between hotels to reduce the burden for each
    • Using agencies in lieu of staff positions
    • Raising incentives instead of base salary
    • Getting creative with PTO
  • What’s a best practice for managing the health and wellness of your team?
    • More frequent check-ins
    • Providing flexible hours and encouraging them to take PTO
    • Helping manage when emails are sent (not on weekends or evenings)
    • Eliminating red tape and unnecessary meetings/reports
    • Listening, being flexible and showing empathy

Regardless of the size and portfolio mix of a hotel management company, it was clear that talent recruitment, retention, and development is high on everyone’s mind, with the health and well-being of all associates being top of mind. The other common denominator is the need for identifying structural changes within organizations to adapt to the post-COVID landscape and customer preferences.

HSMAI periodically hosts invitation-only peer-to-peer roundtables for qualifying sales, marketing, revenue, digital, distribution, and commercial executives from brands, hotel management companies, and ownership groups to discuss emerging issues and trends impacting them, their companies, and their teams. To confirm your eligibility to participate or explore partnership opportunities for any of these roundtables, email

Trends in Hospitality Sales Incentive Compensation

HSMAI partnered with ZS to conduct a sales enterprise incentive compensation benchmarking study in Q4 2021 and then refreshed this research in Q2 2022, featuring participation from several major hospitality brands. This study investigated top-of-mind emerging themes in above-property sales compensation and talent management across hospitality and other industries to highlight common challenges in sales culture, talent retention, pay compression and inflation.

In 2020, many brands’ sales organizations and incentive compensation plans were upended, requiring challenging and swift decision-making. In 2022, we see brands adapting their organizations and plans to meet the “return-to-travel” moment. We have tracked some key year-over-year trends here:

While we see a major rebound in incentive compensation in 2022, significant issues and challenges remain for hospitality brands, including:

  • Difficulty forecasting and setting accurate goals for sellers, especially for an entire year
  • Reinstating individual plan weighting to refocus incentive compensation on the factors under a rep’s control
  • Frequent goal setting throughout the year, which requires more effort from limited sales support staff
  • The priority to hire and retain flexible talent to adapt to uncertain business climate and segments
  • The need to support team culture by retaining some team-based plan components

These challenges may be a temporary result of COVID-19-driven market dynamics, but the changes that brands made to adapt to the new environment may be here to stay in the long run. Hospitality is not alone in facing these challenges. Even in industries that were not as directly affected by the pandemic, we see that their sales teams and ways of working have evolved. Some universal themes across sales organizations we’ve observed include:

  • Pay compression: ZS has consistently observed sales pay compression in hospitality and other industries over the past several years. Pay compression is a narrowing range of variable pay for reps, with fewer high and low outliers in pay and more sellers centered close to the mean. Initial hypotheses for pay compression include:
  • Companies are becoming more risk averse and are avoiding high variation in variable pay, while also setting more accurate goals for sellers.
    • Sellers are becoming more risk averse and want to know the range of take-home pay to expect with a higher degree of certainty.
    • Sellers also have less marginal impact, thanks to support tools like sales playbooks, automated lead generation and next-best action engines to guide them.
    • Companies have started to place floors to maintain talent and lower caps to protect themselves fiscally due to COVID-19.
  • Efficiency and flexibility: Hospitality brands continue to find value in flexible, generalized seller roles. They also have shifted their focus to new customer segments and reduced seller headcounts as legacy segments reduced travel. But now that legacy segments are returning, brands are maintaining new segments that emerged during COVID-19, continuing to grow the seller team size and maintain generalist roles.
  • Hiring trends and culture: As business stabilizes in 2022, brands continue to prioritize investing in talent. Flexible and adaptable sellers who can be redeployed across multiple customer segments (e.g., group or SMB) are sought after by hospitality brands, as team sizes look to return to 2019 levels by the end of 2022. Brands also have found investing in culture necessary for the sales organization’s health, leading them to focus on talent development, elevating team morale with contests and SPIFFs, and rewarding loyal, tenured sellers fiscally.
  • Salary changes and inflation: As inflation continues, hospitality brands’ on-property cost increases have been largely passed to customers so far. There is concern, however, that inflation will continue to shape 2023 strategy as brands eventually grapple with ways to lower expenses to maintain their margins. While inflation impact has not been top-of-mind in sales incentive compensation yet, brands expect it to be a balancing act between retaining talent in the broader market and returning to profitable growth.

ZS and HSMAI frequently lead similar studies to help hospitality brands better navigate these uncertain times. If you are interested in participating in future research, please reach out to Bob Gilbert ( and Mike Francis (

HSMAI Perspective: How Is Your Company Tackling These Top 3 Hospitality Talent Issues?

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

When the HSMAI Foundation published its “State of Talent” report earlier this year, we did not anticipate the amount of positive feedback we received from individuals and companies thanking us for summarizing the state of the current landscape. At last week’s Foundation board meeting, we asked the board to rank the 10 themes identified in the report as a pulse check on key challenges still impacting commercial leaders.

The top three rankings were:
1. Development, reskilling, and upskilling team members
2. Corporate cultures and values
3. Dry talent pipeline and new channels need to be developed

The other seven themes are still issues, but these three resonated most with board members, who represent executives from hotel brands and management companies as well as executive recruiters, academics, and key partners. Reskilling and upskilling teams remains a challenge, as associates are managing different functions and market dynamics continue to change. Corporations continue to refine their culture and values by increasing focus on their people. And the methods for recruiting and retaining team members must be driven by innovation and creativity.

The common denominator among these three themes is the stress and burnout it has created among leaders and the associates who are trying to create work-life balance in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world. And while business may be rebounding, another dimension of stress for many has been created by inflation and U.S. stock market fluctuations.

So, what are you doing about retention?
I’m sure you or your company have already focused on what you can do to recognize, reward, or motivate your teams. Some are conducting “stay interviews” to harvest ideas for what personalized benefits may help retain existing talent. Many have increased salaries across the board or modified incentive plans. Make sure you are implementing some elements of fun for your team. Everyone needs a mental break when they’ve been working so hard during a difficult time. Whatever you are doing, do not let your foot off the gas — continue to focus on your commercial team. Retention has never been more critical for the revenue-generating and profit-optimizing functions of sales, marketing, and revenue optimization.

What are you doing about recruitment?
The opportunity cost of an open commercial position can have huge ripple effects. Where are you recruiting? Have you identified successful short-term staffing solutions? Success stories range from creative project management using students, interns, or hospitality school classes, to tactics as simple as redesigning job descriptions. Postings that start with the benefits of being in the hospitality business may help potential applicants see the industry from the point of view of those who understand the implicit rewards and fulfillment of serving guests and creating experiences. Keep trying and testing recruiting methods and channels in the same way you would A/B test a marketing campaign. You are bound to learn some lessons along the way.

Need some examples of why people should join hospitality?
The HSMAI Foundation recently began distributing a series of short videos from hospitality commercial leaders explaining why careers in sales, marketing, and revenue are rewarding and fulfilling. If you need some ideas or even want to share these with potential recruits, take a look at the most recent ones released. They all give different, yet specific reasons as to why hospitality is a rewarding and fulfilling career. Sometimes, we need a little reminder ourselves.

HSMAI Commercial Strategy Week Preview: Economics Beyond the Forecast

For more than two decades, Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, has worked with destinations, industry associations, and companies around the world in the areas of opportunity and risk assessments, policy analysis, and economic impact. During this year’s ROC Americas, taking place during HSMAI Commercial Strategy Week, Sacks will present his general session “Economics Beyond the Forecast” on June 29. The session will share Tourism Economics’ latest views on the economy, the mindset of travelers, and expectations for how and when travel will fully recover. It’ll also explore which are the most important economic principles for hoteliers to watch, what they mean when setting room rates, and more. Here, he gives a glimpse of what else ROC attendees can expect to learn in his session.

HSMAI: What can ROC attendees expect to learn during your general session?

Adam Sacks: The economy should provide a foundation for continued recovery in demand. But this foundation has some notable cracks in it that represent real risks. My presentation will lay out our thinking behind the most recent TE/STR lodging forecast and how the industry can prepare for different scenarios.

What has surprised you most about the industry’s recovery so far?

The strength of rate recovery has exceeded my expectations. While there are reasonable explanations, the recovery of ADR is unprecedented as it has outpaced the recovery in demand.

What do you think has been the biggest misconception about economic recovery during this time?

Talks of a “new normal” in regard to travel were reckless in my view. These were especially prevalent in terms of business travel. But we’ve seen time and again that face-to-face meetings are essential to business operations and the recovery of business travel is bearing out this reality.

What is one key takeaway attendees will obtain after hearing your presentation?

I hope to share a balanced view of market opportunities and risks that will guide attendees through the present uncertainty facing the economy. In terms of revenue management, we’ve learned a lot about price elasticity over the past couple years, which has major implications for rate setting.

What are you looking forward to most about ROC?

Last year, I learned more than I shared at ROC. This helped me serve our clients better. I expect to learn again from attendees who are in the trenches of operations and revenue management.

Insights from the Corporate Marketing Professional of the Year: Sean Dee

Sean Dee, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Outrigger Hospitality Group, will receive the 2022 HSMAI Corporate Marketing Professional of the Year Award during the HSMAI Marketing Strategy Conference, taking place June 28. “It’s certainly humbling to receive this recognition, but I truly believe that it’s a team award,” Dee said. “I’m extremely proud of the commercial team that we’ve assembled here at Outrigger, and I’m honored to serve them.”

Dee is responsible for developing and deploying global marketing, brand, revenue management, and sales strategies. Working closely with the company’s Hawai‘i and Asia-Pacific/Indian Ocean regions to address market-specific sales and marketing needs, Dee drives integration, collaboration, and consistency across the entire Outrigger global portfolio. He currently serves as board chair for the Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau and served the state of Hawai‘i as a member of the board of directors for the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority from 2014-2019, chairing numerous committees.

Prior to joining Outrigger, Dee was the executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) Worldwide and, subsequently, president of global branding. He has also held positions as chief marketing director for Hard Rock International, Inc., and both global marketing director, digital and vice president, marketing at Levi Strauss & Company. Here, Dee talks about how he’s seen hospitality marketing evolve over the years and what it takes to be a leader in this day and age.

HSMAI: How did you get your start in the industry?

Sean Dee: I started my hospitality career in the kitchen at Pearl’s Oyster Bar in Palo Alto, but then spent the next 15 years in advertising and marketing roles at Levi Strauss & Company. I was recruited to Hard Rock International as its first chief marketing officer and was able to leverage my culinary and merchandising background to help reignite the fading iconic brand, but, more importantly, be part of the company’s expansion to the hotel and casino business, which was transformational for the brand and for me. Since then, I’ve been able to collaborate with other passionate leaders at Anschutz Entertainment Group and now Outrigger Hospitality Group to help transform these great companies.

How did you get involved with HSMAI?

I’ve been a long-time member of HSMAI, serving on multiple boards and advisory committees, as well as participating in the CMO Executive Roundtable. HSMAI is a great organization that serves a wide range of constituents with ongoing education, certification, and partnership opportunities that are invaluable to its members.

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

There has been tremendous evolution in the hospitality marketing space over the years, clearly driven by major changes in technology and distribution systems. These new tools, as well as significant improvements in business intelligence, allow marketers access to better data and insights, which, in turn, lead to better pricing decisions, channel management, and forecasting. And of course, there is enormous pressure in our industry (as well as many others) for brands to truly own their consumer relationship and influence their purchase decisions through loyalty programs, branded websites, personalization, and CRM initiatives.

As the industry moves toward pandemic recovery, what do you think it takes to be an effective leader in today’s challenging times?

I’ve always believed that hiring effectively and retaining great talent always ends up defining what makes a great leader. To be an effective leader, you need to have a collaborative and motivated team of high achievers who believe in the mission. For your team to believe in the mission, it’s critical that the leader communicates consistently in as compelling a manner as possible.

What would you describe as the best moment of your career?

Of course, the HSMAI Corporate Marketing Professional of the Year Award! In all seriousness, I’ve been blessed in my career to have so many great moments and highlights that it’s hard to identify one. That said, being able to live and work, but, more importantly, raise my two daughters with my beautiful wife in Hawaii has to be the highlight of my career. Aloha.

HSMAI Top 25 Profile: Jamieson Asselta

HSMAI recently honored the 2021 Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization — recognizing leaders from hospitality, travel, and tourism organizations for their accomplishments in the preceding 18 months. Jamieson Asselta, director of global enterprise sales at IDeaS Revenue Solutions, is one of these honorees.

Jamieson Asselta is a senior hospitality industry leader with more than 20 years of experience in both sales and revenue management leadership. He has been with IDeaS for six years and leads IDeaS’ Global Enterprise Sales strategy with expertise and passion, enabling large organizations to take their profitability across the enterprise. Prior to joining IDeaS, Jamieson held various sales and marketing leadership responsibilities with Marriott, Omni, and Destination Hotels in New York City, Boston, Orlando, and Washington, D.C. Jamieson has served on the Americas HSMAI Sales Advisory Board and New York HSMAI Chapter and enjoys speaking regularly at industry events and at several hotel schools, including NYU and Johnson & Wales.

Key accomplishment: In 2020, Jamieson completed the largest sale of his career and one of the four largest sales in the 33-year history of IDeaS. At the end of the client’s implementation timeline, IDeaS will have grown the number of hotels using and IDeaS technology by 25% (or about 5,000 hotels). The results of Jamieson’s leadership created a significant expansion for IDeaS’ client base.

What inspired this nomination? “Jamieson is an exceptional friend and colleague. He deserves to be recognized by his industry peers.”

Asselta on what has kept him motivated over the past year: “I’ve always been fueled by a desire to solve client problems. That has been amplified during this pandemic period. This led to a greater excitement to problem-solve and deliver for current and prospective clients.”

Asselta on his silver lining this year: “The strength of long relationships within the industry continued to remind me how critical the time we invest into others is. It lays the foundation for what everything is built upon. This could not have been more evident over the past year.”


Revenue Management Faculty Discuss Outlook on Hospitality Student Engagement

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

During the recent Hospitality School Revenue Management Faculty Forum, hosted by the HSMAI Foundation, participants from hospitality schools CUNY – NYC College of Technology, Missouri State University, Penn State, Red River College Polytech, Ryerson University, and University of Nevada, Las Vegas discussed various topics related to student perceptions of the industry. The following outlines the insights gleaned from this group during the forum.

What is the lasting impact of the global pandemic on student morale and motivation?

  • Students are cautiously optimistic yet nervous about job security.
  • There is concern that the industry is no longer a good fit with their ambitions.
  • Students are less focused on growth in their careers and more focused on job security.
  • There is a sentiment that there aren’t many revenue management opportunities after graduation.

What are the student perceptions of revenue career opportunities when they start your class?

  • They are unclear as to what it really is and what their careers would look like.
  • Students initially think it will be similar to a finance class and that it will only be applicable to hotels.
  • Many haven’t even considered it. They think GM — nothing about revenue management.
  • Once they start to understand it, they can find revenue management in everyday life and feel like they have a unique understanding of the world.

What do you tell students in your class that excites them about this career path?

  • It is a global subject with a lot of opportunities.
  • Based on personal experience, sharing the dynamic roles of revenue managers.
  • The field is challenging, and you can see real impact.
  • It is a fast-paced, energizing field that provides a great opportunity to drive strategy for an organization.

What recent shifts have you observed in students’ career interests?

  • They have more uncertainty, but some understand that the opportunities are coming back.
  • Some are moving toward revenue management as an option after taking the class, as a more stable alternative to operations.
  • There are more students who want to take the entrepreneurial route.

What is a best practice for increasing student interest in revenue classes?

  • Simulations and certifications
  • Teaching it as a skill set and not just as a job
  • Raising awareness of the discipline early in the program
  • Getting involved in HSMAI
  • Using guest speakers in the industry

What resources would help you with curriculum development or enhancement? (Ranked in order of interest.)

  1. Faculty externships
  2. Case studies and supplemental materials
  3. Digital assets (videos, podcasts, etc.)
  4. Faculty development opportunities or certifications
  5. Access to industry professionals as guest speakers
  6. Plug-and-play curriculum

HSMAI Foundation Perspective

During the forum, revenue faculty leaders also ranked internships, mentorship, and career planning and placement resources as the top ways to encourage students to pursue revenue careers. Across revenue, sales, and marketing faculty forums, internships and mentorship were ranked highly in this regard. Because of this, it would be beneficial to industry professionals at hotels and hotel companies to reach out to schools in their region, meet the faculty and find ways to engage students. This can be done by assisting with a class project, volunteering to speak at a class, or setting up a shadow day with your team members. You could also leverage students for short-term or summer projects. Share the message about your career journey and the breadth of career opportunities that exist in the areas that generate the revenue for hotels and the industry.

Insights From HSMAI Marketing Professional of the Year Jessie Burns

Jessie Burns, senior director of brand and public relations strategy for Terranea Resort, will receive the 2022 Single/Multi-Unit Marketing Professional of the Year Award during the HSMAI Marketing Strategy Conference, taking place June 28. “Receiving this award is an incredible honor, and I am truly humbled to be recognized among the outstanding leaders nominated within this group,” Burns said. “This award is only possible because of the talented, world-class team of marketing and revenue leaders I am fortunate to work with and learn from each day. It is shared and celebrated with each of them.”

In her role, Burns oversees communications to support revenue generation, brand awareness, and reputation management, and has helped position Terranea as a top resort destination. She specializes in brand strategy, media relations, crisis communications, content marketing, strategic partnerships, and internal communications. Burns has more than 15 years of experience in marketing communications and has worked with several brands within the luxury hospitality segment. In addition, she is an HSMAI Certified Hospitality Digital Marketer and a member of Visit California’s PR Advisory Committee, American Hotel & Lodging’s Communications Cabinet and ForWard Ambassador Program, and Terranea’s Green Team. Here, she discusses how she’s seen the industry evolve as well as what makes a strong brand and PR strategy.

HSMAI: How did you get your start in the industry?

Jessie Burns: Growing up, I was fortunate to live abroad and travel extensively with my family. Those experiences made me fall in love with exploring new destinations and sparked my passion for travel, which continues today. I was drawn to hospitality because it allows me to collaborate and create memorable experiences, help inspire travel, and be involved in different areas I enjoy such as wellness, epicurean, sustainability, entertainment, and adventure. I began my career working in marketing and public relations as a storyteller for various luxury hospitality clients on the agency side. After several years, I transitioned in-house on the independent brand side and love the endless possibility of growing, shaping, and evolving what sets a destination apart.

How did you get involved with HSMAI?

My mentor Agnelo Fernandes, immediate past chair of the HSMAI Foundation and CSO and EVP of Terranea Resort, introduced me to HSMAI through the membership opportunities and industry awards and accolade recognition. In 2012, I became a member, joining my local Los Angeles chapter, and we have been participating in the Adrian Awards for more than 10 years. I also achieved my certification as a hospitality digital marketer (CHDM) in 2020.

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

The hospitality marketing space continues to rapidly evolve, as does our industry. The greatest shift and driver for success has been developing an integrated approach across revenue and marketing thought leadership, allowing us to use data and analytics in establishing our strategies and driving impactful results. Technology has also played a significant role in the evolution, allowing us to connect with the right audience at the right time, with meaningful and engaging content. One constant that remains, however, is the need to create an emotive connection with guests — that becomes the differentiator in transitioning beyond a client to an ambassador.

What do you think is critical in developing effective brand and PR strategy in hospitality?

Developing an effective strategy begins with defining the objective and establishing a clear path to achieve your desired results. A brand is defined by its ambassadors; listening is paramount to understanding the needs, wants, and service opportunities of your guests and employees. If the past two years have taught us anything, the need for flexibility and the ability to pivot are also important. It is critical to understand the value proposition and architecture of your brand to achieve success.

What would you describe as the best moment of your career?

One of the best moments of my career was following the Adrian Awards in 2020 before the pandemic began. Our team was fortunate to attend the conference and awards dinner in New York, and it was a wonderful achievement to be recognized for the awards we garnered. When I arrived home, I was greeted by my three young daughters and husband who had made congratulatory signs celebrating the big win. It was a proud moment for me professionally, and personally, to see the joy of my career success reflected by my family.

The Hospitality Faculty Perspective on the Sales Career Path

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

In continuing the conversation on the challenges in hospitality talent and the talent pipeline, the HSMAI Foundation held its Hospitality School Sales Faculty Forum to discuss the student perspective when it comes to the sales career path. Faculty members from hospitality schools Johnson & Wales University, New York University, Northern Arizona University, Red River College Polytech, and Virginia Tech participated in the forum and offered the following sentiments on how students view the discipline and necessary resources to improve engagement.

What is the lasting impact of the global pandemic on student morale and motivation?

  • Students are cautiously optimistic.
  • Since most hospitality jobs are not remote, some don’t want to have a job they can’t do from home.
  • Students are worried that the labor shortage is permanent, making management jobs more stressful.
  • They’re aware that salespeople in the industry were laid off or overworked with extra duties.
  • Some students are disconnected, less engaged, and having a hard time with structure and deadlines.

What is the level of student interest in these areas of concentration before they take your class?

  1. Marketing
  2. Revenue management
  3. Sales

This ranking is the same across the marketing and revenue management disciplines as well.

What are the student perceptions of sales career opportunities when they start your class?

  • They don’t understand the role or fear selling.
  • Sales keeps the doors open and keeps hotel employees working.
  • The network-building potential is great, and there’s the opportunity to make money.
  • They believe knowledge of sales and persuasion are essential skills for upper management.

What do you tell students in your class that excites them about this career path?

  • It’s a good path to take to accelerate their career in hospitality.
  • Sales is a highly developed skill set that is transferable.
  • The path can lead them to a CMO position.
  • It’s not all about cold calling.
  • Everyone sells — you just don’t realize it.
  • Every day is different; it’s never boring.

What is a best practice for increasing student interest in sales classes?

  • Engaging with inspiring industry speakers.
  • Shadowing sales managers on the job.
  • Incorporating lecture topics and activities in the intro course that helps create understanding of the discipline and clearly describes hotel sales careers.

What resources would help you with curriculum development or enhancement? (Ranked in order of interest.)

  1. Case studies and supplemental materials
  2. Digital assets (videos, podcasts, etc.)
  3. Plug-and-play curriculum
  4. Faculty externships
  5. Faculty development opportunities or certifications
  6. Access to industry professionals as guest speakers

What resources would help students pursue careers in sales? (Ranked in order of interest.)

  1. Internships
  2. Access to industry professionals
  3. Mentorships
  4. Student certifications
  5. Career planning and placement resources
  6. Academic scholarships
  7. Scholarships for HSMAI membership
  8. HSMAI collegiate chapters

HSMAI Foundation Perspective

One of the key focus areas of the HSMAI Foundation is understanding the pipeline of students from hospitality schools that can help fill sales, marketing, and revenue positions. Industry practitioners and leaders must continue to engage the faculty who teach sales, marketing, and revenue classes and reach their students with messages that highlight the benefits of a fulfilling career in these ever-important disciplines.