The View From Europe

Hospitality leaders from HSMAI Europe analyze the results of Global Curate, which brainstormed the most relevant KPIs for the post-pandemic market.

By Christopher Durso, Vice President of Content Development, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

If there’s one thing we learned from our recent Global Curate event, during which attendees from HSMAI Americas and HSMAI Europe worked in small groups to brainstorm the KPIs that will be most relevant to them in the post-pandemic hospitality market, it’s that KPIs are situational. The performance metrics that hospitality professionals find most valuable vary not just from one piece of business to the next, but often within an individual piece of business — depending on the customer’s goals, the hotel’s goals, the greater economic climate, and numerous other factors.

Those factors include international geography and cultural expectations, which is why we’re following up the analysis of our Global Curate results by members of HSMAI Americas’ KPI Workgroup with similar analysis from hospitality professionals with HSMAI Europe.

RESULTS FROM GLOBAL CURATE

As a reminder, unrelated to Global Curate, the KPI Workgroup recently published a master list of 65 KPIs for hospitality sales, marketing, and revenue professionals. KPI Workgroup Chair Lori Kiel then consolidated the brainstorming results from Global Curate and compared them to this master list. In the Global Curate results printed below, the number after each KPI indicates the number of Global Curate groups that brainstormed that particular KPI; any KPI in italics is not part of the Workgroup’s master list, meaning it’s unique to Global Curate:

Reputation score — 6

Loyalty mix — 4

ST2Y/WOW/MOM benchmarks — 4

Brand contribution —3

Channel mix — 3

Employee satisfaction — 3

GOP (gross operating profit) — 3

GOPPAR (gross operating profit per available room) — 3

Index (fair share) — 3

TRevPAR (total revenue per available room) — 3

ADR (average daily rate) — 2

Ancillary revenue per room — 2

Client engagement mix — 2

Occupancy — 2

RevPAR (revenue per available room) — 2

RFP conversation rate — 2

RGI (revenue generating index) — 2

ROAS (return on advertising spend) — 2

Business mix/source markets — 1

Consumer confidence (travel) — 1

Demand change YOY — 1

EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) — 1

Local revenue vs total revenue — 1

Net revenue — 1

NOI/EBIT (net operating income/earnings before income and taxes) — 1

Segment mix — 1

Total spend per guest — 1

Transient segment mix — 1

ANALYZING THE RESULTS: EUROPEAN EDITION

Do you see any common themes or dominant trends in the Global Curate results?

  • Bob Engeringh, commercial director for citizenM: It is quite clear and good to see that there is an increased interest in KPIs that are focused on profitability. Other than that, it was quite a mixed bag of the standard KPIs and some other new ideas.
  • Markus Keller, senior vice president of sales and distribution for Accor: There is a tendency to revert to the classic metrics, even if they were not all relevant during the pandemic. As in any business, profitability remains important, and a greater consciousness on reputation, but overall, there was a lot of mixed opinions as the industry continues to search for a guiding compass out of the pandemic.
  • Paul Proctor, commercial vice president – Europe for IHG Hotels & Resorts: In today’s environment, profitability-related KPIs (GOP, NOI, etc.) together with commercial KPIs like RevPAR are essential to truly understanding the business mix. Then it’s crucial to consider benchmarking KPIs such as RGI, Index (fair share), and reputation score. These KPIs combined can help hospitality professionals understand the route and performance of the recovery trend.

Are there any surprises for you in the Global Curate results?

  • Engeringh: Overall, I am missing the focus on CLV (customer lifetime value). Looking at the KPIs, the industry still seems very much focused on optimizing today, this week or this month, rather than looking at the guests that do not require any additional spend to get them to stay and are true fans of the brand. Loyalty mix is mentioned, but this does not fully represent that. Other than that, there were actually little to no KPIs focused on sales (account value, sales growth, etc.).
  • Keller: Nothing surprising in the list. The stronger emergence non-financial measures such as reputation score, client engagement, but also employee satisfaction were likely reinforced during last 18 months, but shouldn’t be surprising as such. While KPIs have come a long way, the emphasis on sustainable tourism in the context of our global climate change challenges should see new KPIs taking shape.
  • Proctor: It’s great to see that the human factor is being considered in the context of performance with KPIs such as employee satisfaction, client engagement, consumer confidence, and reputation score, as it recognizes what’s at the core of the hospitality business: people. These are essential additions to consider alongside fundamental commercial and financial metrics.

How do the results from Global Curate square with the work that the KPI Workgroup has done before and during the pandemic? Do they make you rethink anything?

  • Engeringh: The focus in both groups on profitability is quite visible, and it is good to see this is so high on the radar. As many KPIs often also get the need of being benchmarked, I think that is the next difficult task for the industry. There are tools out there that attempt to make this visible, but in practice it might be hard to find real comparable sets. Many companies hold various definitions around distribution costs or have even non-comparable numbers due to different business models. This still offers a potential risk for hotel management, as they find themselves many times in the split between owners/stakeholders wanting to see high market shares but also optimal EBITDA. These two often do not necessarily go hand in hand.
  • Keller: Short term, a focus on returning to profitability and sustaining customer satisfaction is at the front of everyone’s agenda, so not surprisingly this came out in the discussion. That will invariably lead to related KPIs and analysis on net contribution/channel costs. However, discussion of non-financial measures will certainly occupy part of the mid-term metrics and should shape thinking.
  • Proctor: It has become evident that the success of the hospitality industry is measured against many indicators. To truly understand business performance, we need to measure the commercial impact on profitability (net RevPAR) as well as considering the profitability optimization in relation to guest and employee satisfaction. Both Global Curate and the KPI Workgroup are addressing these elements through the additional KPIs definitions.

Of the nine KPIs from Global Curate that were not already part of the KPI Workgroup’s master list, are there any that you think are particularly relevant to the post-pandemic hospitality market?

  • Engeringh: It is quite fascinating that there is no mention at all in the KPI Workgroup’s master list about reputation scores. GRI (Global Review Index) or NPS (Net Promoter Scores) are very important drivers of revenue, hence they should not be missed on a list of important KPIs.
  • Keller: The comparisons to Y-2 were not part of prior methodology, but it’s a punctual need given the impact on baseline KPIs in 2020, and short term everyone is focused on when we’ll get back to 2019 levels. But no KPI can be considered in isolation since they are all linked, either mechanically or systematically. As said, post-pandemic, the consciousness around sustainable tourism will certainly change the way we operate, and therefore probably take on a new relevance.
  • Proctor: The Global Curate list provides more insight through the addition of business/geographical/segment mix KPIs, which is important to identify what has changed in terms of travel and demand patterns post-pandemic. Together with the ST2Y measurement, it provides strategic guidance about where to focus commercial initiatives in the short- and long-term future.

How should hospitality sales, marketing, and revenue professionals approach identifying the KPIs that will be most relevant to them in the months ahead?

  • Engeringh: They should definitely not compare anything back to 2020 or even 2021. Those years can really be struck through, as they do not give any significant data to be used in any form of metric. Therefore, the increased mentions on KPIs like ST2Y/WOW/MOM benchmarks are indeed very relevant in the post-pandemic hospitality market.
  • Keller: For now, we’ll remain focused on short-term needs, but mid-term we’ll look to integrate the new preoccupations of clients to ensure a sustainable return to business and of tourism long term. Specifically, we need to demonstrate a measurable link between sustainable tourism initiatives to customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and ultimately financial performance, which will be key to engaging asset owners and influencing commercial strategy.
  • Proctor: Given the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality business, securing profitability will be amongst the highest priorities in the short term for many stakeholders within the industry. Therefore, it’s beneficial to look at the KPIs which can best help define commercial strategies which deliver profitable and loyal business, increase market share while building and driving guest and employee satisfaction.

The Outlook: Recovery and Beyond

Tourism Economics’ Adam Sacks offers a preview of his general session at HSMAI’s upcoming ROC Americas event — including why he thinks ‘the industry remains strong.’

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

As COVID cases are rising again, many hoteliers find themselves wondering once more how this will impact the industry. Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, says there is reason to remain positive — even though the situation is darkening right now, the medium-term outlook for the hospitality industry remains strong. “We see in sentiment data that people have concerns and plans are beginning to weaken for later this year,” Sacks said. “But the reality is that the industry remains strong. Recovery on the business travel and group side may be delayed again by a few months to 2022, but it will come back. While travel may soften in the current environment, it is likely to only be a temporary softening.”

For more than two decades, Sacks has worked with destinations, industry associations, and companies around the world in the areas of opportunity and risk assessments, policy analysis, and economic impact. He is an authority on measuring the economic impact of visitor activity and has analyzed the impacts of cruising, gaming, timeshares, hotels, new attractions, and destination marketing. He’ll put his expert perspective to use during “The Outlook: Recovery and Beyond,” a general session at HSMAI’s ROC Americas event for revenue optimization professionals in Dallas on Sept. 29, where he’ll share Tourism Economics’ latest views on the economy, the mindset of travelers, and expectations for how and when travel will fully recover.

SLOW AND STEADY

Sacks recently discussed his upcoming presentation in an interview with HSMAI. “It’s still incredibly difficult to predict anything right now, but I would say that things have gotten easier to look at over the past six months,” he said. “If you go back eight months, we didn’t have three vaccines that are incredibly effective at preventing death and hospitalizations, and we didn’t have nearly 70 percent of the population vaccinated. It’s not eradication, but it is an encouraging development, and it gives us hope.”

Sacks has been looking at data throughout the pandemic, and despite the recent uptick in cases, his outlook has remained steady over the past few months — and isn’t likely to change too drastically in the near future. “This summer actually outperformed our forecasts, so it is encouraging to see pent-up demand for leisure travel exceed our expectations, even by a little” Sacks said. “We expected a slow return to business and group travel for the rest of the year, and we are holding to that. Any revisions between now and the end of September could be a tempering of the outlook for the remainder of the year, but I don’t think our overall predictions for 2022 will change.”

While Sacks’ predictions for the medium term are optimistic, that’s not to say the industry won’t see any negative impacts in the final quarter of the year due to the rise in cases. According to Sacks, recent surveys have shown that customers are feeling more reluctant to travel right now, which may or may not lead to more cancellations. “There’s still a lot of wait-and-see right now,” Sacks said. “This latest rise in cases has weakened group bookings in the fourth quarter, but the good news is that we haven’t seen an appreciable weakening in the actual data. STR is still pacing over the past few weeks at a similar level to 2019, and air travel is holding at 80 percent of 2019. That gives us some indication of where customers are right now.”

Sacks cautioned against looking at negative customer sentiment right now as a long-term trend. “These surveys are coming at a moment in time when things are worsening,” he said, “but in another month, we could be on the other side of the curve and the sentiment could turn quickly again.”

THE OLD NORMAL

In 2022, Sacks expects to see even more pent-up demand for leisure travel because people have gone without for so long, something that he has held to since the onset of the pandemic. When group and business travel will come back full force remains unknown, but Sacks is certain that it will come back.

“Some people are predicting that business travel will never recover beyond 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels,” he said. “But we think that’s a misguided point of view. The need for business travel, the benefits for corporate performance, and the importance of meeting in person will prevail, just as they have in past crises, when people were saying the same.”

The number-one thing that Sacks wants ROC attendees to come away from his session with is that the medium-term outlook for travel remains very good. “The new normal will look a lot like the old normal,” Sacks said. “The actual crisis itself has come and gone in waves, but through those waves, travel demand has been resilient. Things have improved since the worst of the crisis last January, and we will continue to recover.”

ROC Americas is part of HSMAI’s Commercial Strategy Week in Dallas on Sept. 27–30, 2021. Learn more.

 

Capitalize on Commercial Strategy to Drive Market Share

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

HSMAI’s Marketing Strategy Conference is coming up on Sept. 28, with breakout sessions addressing the latest data, research, and developments in marketers’ efforts to connect with, track, and influence changing consumer sentiments throughout all phases of travel. In advance of the conference, presenters from the breakout “Capitalize on Commercial Strategy to Drive Market Share” gave a preview of issues they are facing and what attendees can expect from their session.

Tom Buoy, CRME, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Radisson Hotel Group Americas; Andrew Flack, chief commercial officer for Marcus Hotels & Resorts; and Raul Moronta, CRME, chief commercial officer for Remington Hotels, will give insights into how commercial strategy can create operational efficiencies and elevate marketing teams’ performance in a panel discussion moderated by Flo Lugli, principal with Navesink Advisory Group LLC. Here’s what the three presenters had to say about their session:

What has been the most difficult part of being a chief commercial officer (CCO) during the pandemic?

Tom Buoy: There are a few things: maximizing the return on commercial investments in a highly dynamic market; adapting rapidly to changing market conditions, driven primarily by COVID and changes in public and private policy; ensuring that our commercial team remains agile, engaged, aligned, and highly prescriptive; helping our franchisees do more with less resources; finding the right addressable demand and adapting that to the changing voice/needs of the customer; and witnessing our industry suffer through furloughs, mass layoffs, and hotel closures while other industries have excelled/triumphed.

Andrew Flack: We often talk about this year having been one long “pre-opening” campaign. We have to lean into the rising leisure demand and redeploying salespeople against increased group leads, while still being conscious that our actual revenues are tracking well behind 2019. It’s a delicate resourcing balance that we have been reviewing week to week.

Raul Moronta: Aside from the obvious lack of revenues, the most difficult part has been our lack of human capital. At the beginning of the pandemic, most of our sales associates assisted in various operations roles as cost-saving measures. Now we have a number of open positions in housekeeping, front office, and F&B that we cannot fill, which is affecting our ability to drive revenue.

What do you want people to get out of this session?

Buoy: I hope people will take away an understanding of the value of adopting a data-driven approach to developing commercial strategies and tactics and the value of challenging long-held paradigms. If your organizational structure is not evolving and/or adapting to a rapidly changing marketplace, you should attend this session. Several leading management and franchise companies have announced the appointment of CCOs in the last 18 months. Learning why and how these data-driven, digital-first leaders/companies are building their organizations to capture share and drive profitability may help you in your own commercial journey.

Flack: This is a new journey for all of us. What better time to take stock of everyone’s shared experience and learn from how different organizations have addressed the challenge of driving revenue and RevPAR in such a novel environment?

Moronta: Our plan is to give them an insight on how to thrive in challenging times. Our roles do not get diminished by a pandemic; we need to find sustainable and creative solutions to continue to outperform our competitors and preserve asset value.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Buoy: Although the past 18 months have been a dismal period for humanity, we have learned a lot about what it is to be human, to endure, and to overcome. Those lessons will continue to serve us well as we continue to recover and begin thriving again. The next 24 months will continue to challenge us and compel us to further improve and automate our revenue-delivery systems. This will continue to demonstrate the value of building a highly integrated and data-driven approach to maximizing revenues and profitability.

Flack: Most of us are in this industry because we believe in the power of travel and hospitality to be a force for good in the world. It’s on all of us to work together to bring this industry back, and to attract new generations of both customers and employees.

Moronta: This too shall pass, and we are already seeing great signs of recovery on a number of markets. We have also learned great lessons about what factors drive demand, what our guests really want, and how to satisfy that demand.

The Marketing Strategy Conference is part of HSMAI’s Commercial Strategy Week in Dallas on Sept. 27–30, 2021. Learn more.

HSMAI Top 25 Profile: Staci Olney, Red Roof

HSMAI recently honored the 2020 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. We’re profiling all of them in an HSMAI Special Report that we’re previewing with excerpts, including Staci Olney, Vice President of National Sales, Red Roof.

Staci Olney is responsible for helping Red Roof achieve its revenue goals by leading the national sales team and deploying their objectives that support the brand’s more than 650 hotels. Olney’s responsibilities include strategic planning for all vertical markets, building and maintaining relationships with the franchise community, developing tools and processes that support direct sales and customer engagement, including continuous improvements to the commercial Volume Plan Plus program, and maintaining relationships with top customers. She gained nine years of operations experience at independent hotels in the leisure segment prior to joining Accor in 1998. Upon Westmont Hospitality Group’s acquisition of Red Roof in 2007, Olney was promoted to director of national sales, then to her current role in 2017.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: As the coronavirus pandemic unfolded, Olney led Red Roof’s sales team as well as the Red Roof Sales COVID-19 Task Force. Her husband is a firefighter and other family members are nurses, and her personal knowledge of the unique challenges that COVID-19 presented to first responders was key to her work spearheading Red Roof’s Room in Your Heart Opening Doors to First Responders campaign.

NOMINATED BY: Andrea Thompson, HK Strategies — “Staci’s passion and compassion guides and directs her everyday actions. Her ability to strategically lead the national sales team to seek viable revenue optimization opportunities while also leading the Red Roof Sales COVID-19 Task Force is an inspiration not only to her team but all other Red Roof team members.”

STACI OLNEY ON STAYING MOTIVATED IN 2020: “What has kept me motivated over the past year? The responsibility and respect that I have for our sales team and organization. With this responsibility comes the opportunity to set positive examples of how we respond to and overcome challenges; it is something that kept me highly motivated and engaged with my team in 2020.”

HSMAI Top 25 Profile: Heather Bailey, BWH Hotel Group

HSMAI recently honored the 2020 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. We’re profiling all of them in an HSMAI Special Report that we’re previewing with excerpts, including Heather Bailey, CHBA, CHT, CAEHM, Senior Director of Worldwide Sales – Hotel Sales Optimization, BWH Hotel Group.

A respected leader and mentor, Heather Bailey has more than 25 years of hospitality experience working with an array of hotels, including select-service and convention hotels. In 2010, she joined Best Western Hotels & Resorts (BWH) as a liaison between hoteliers and the Worldwide Sales team, partnering with hotels to develop successful sales strategies and drive revenue. Utilizing her leadership skills and innovative thinking, Bailey transformed her initial role into a team of talented professionals whose primary focus is on preactivation, sales training, and business acumen. She received a bachelor’s degree in hotel management with a minor in marketing from Southern New Hampshire University.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Bailey played an integral role in developing valuable tools and programs for hoteliers, including BWH’s sales onboarding, sales champion, and award-winning 2.0 sales training programs.

NOMINATED BY: Dorothy Dowling, Best Western Hotels & Resorts — “Heather exhibits the ‘WE CARE’ philosophy of our brand. She always leads with a caring mindset in supporting our hotels, her colleagues, and her subordinates. Heather has extraordinary subject-matter expertise, but it is her whole-heart leadership that truly distinguishes her as an exceptional leader in our business. Heather is credited by many of our hoteliers as being a lifeline as she has built extraordinary toolkits and training to assist our hotels in navigating COVID.”

HEATHER BAILEY ON STAYING MOTIVATED IN 2020: “Motivation has always been an essential component of my work ethic; reaching goals, identifying successful revenue opportunities for hotels, and growing and developing my team are just some of the objectives that fuel me. But none motivate me more than working alongside my team, especially during this unprecedented time. Their loyalty, dedication, and flexibility to pivot in an ever-changing environment with compassion and empathy has been awe-inspiring to witness.”

With Hospitality Demand Returning, Research From HSMAI and ZS Points the Way Forward

HSMAI and ZS recently interviewed sales leaders at leading hospitality companies from around the world. While COVID-19 presented unparalleled challenges, they said it also pushed them to truly think outside the box and adopt novel strategies and approaches they can leverage in the future as travel returns to pre-pandemic levels.

The key takeaways? Hospitality companies that remain flexible, keep their sales and support teams agile and maintain cross-functional collaboration best position themselves for success. They also must continue to lead with the empathy, transparency and frequent communication with their customers and employees that kept these communities connected during the crisis.

Read more about the findings in this ZS blog post: Hospitality demand is returning: Now what?

“The candid and unique perspectives that the heads of sales at 16 of the largest global hospitality brands shared with us provided fascinating insights into not only how their organizations navigated through the pandemic,” said Kunal Shah, associate principal at ZS, “but also how they plan to stay agile and adapt as the business travel landscape continues to morph going forward.”

Hospitality company leaders learned a lot about travelers and their teams as they navigated COVID-19. How well they retain that knowledge and evolve their ways of working—rather than rebuilding what existed before—will prove to be critical and a key differentiator. When the next inevitable industry crisis emerges, these ways of working will help weather that storm, too.

“HSMAI was delighted to collaborate with ZS for this unique assessment of the impact of the hospitality crises on the hotel sales enterprises,” said Bob Gilbert, president & CEO at HSMAI. “We look forward to additional research that will provide the hospitality industry valuable insights about sales force design, incentive compensation and other motivation practices.”

Learn more about our research on ZS.com.

Living in a World of Labor Shortages

By Timothy R. Wiersma, CRME, Founder and Principal, Revenue Generation LLC, and a member of HSMAI’s Revenue Optimization Advisory Board

At this point, engaging with the recovery is like playing poker: You don’t know what cards you’re going to be dealt next. The delta variant is just the latest in a year and a half of unpredictable hands — but even before the pandemic, the hospitality industry was facing serious problems such as a chronic labor shortage. By forcing layoffs and furloughs that have pushed hospitality professionals into other industries, COVID has only exacerbated things.

Add to that the challenges of managing a post-COVID workforce — from attracting the next generation of talent with adequate wages, benefits, and telework options, to enforcing vaccine mandates and other health and safety measures — and you have a dilemma that is going to be with us for the foreseeable future. During a recent call for HSMAI’s Revenue Optimization Advisory Board (ROAB), I moderated a discussion during which ROAB members discussed how their companies are addressing labor shortages, not just today but in the years ahead. Here are key insights they offered during our conversation:

The end of amenities? “Addressing a labor shortage means cutting amenities. Some of the amenities, properties are not opening, and they’re also revisiting breakfast, which is tough because in a mid-scale and a limited-service property that is what travelers expect. So that’s one thing. And then also, housekeeping. I don’t see the labor shortage easing up in the fall, so I don’t believe we’ll see amenities like that coming back anytime in the near future.”

Sign-on bonuses and other incentives: “Using Las Vegas as one example, I’ve heard about things like $1,000 sign-on bonuses for housekeeping. Companies are getting pretty creative with trying to attract new people or even get back those team members that may have left during the pandemic with some major incentives that are fairly unprecedented.”

Wages and daily pay: “We have tried a number of different things like offering daycare and improved cafeteria lunches and different stipends and sign-on and retention bonuses, and we haven’t seen traction with much of anything other than wage increases — and trying to be really proactive about that before you’re at a point where you’re pulling rooms offline or closing outlets because you can’t service them. The other thing that’s been impactful has been moving to daily pay — instead of paying out every two weeks, at the hotel level you’re paying out each day. I know that there have been tests from various brands in a number of markets where they’re looking at kind of a gig work setup, where if you’re a housekeeper, you can opt in to work on a certain day and they might allocate you to whatever hotel in that market needs the help, and then you go work and you get paid that day.”

Immigration restrictions: “One of the things that I don’t hear enough talk about is the cumulative impact of restrictions on natural legal immigration — for seasonal markets, the availability of the HB1 and L1 visas. If we get those surges in labor supply seasonally that we’ve gotten used to or that we need in some destinations, that might alleviate, especially in some resort markets. There are a lot of international markets out there that are flush with highly skilled, very qualified workers that maybe had visas before and don’t have them now.”

Work from home: “We’re looking at flexible options and hybrid options. We’ve had to offer some full-time work at home just to get revenue talent, which has been incredibly hard to find, especially for our resort destinations. We’re seeing that as more of a normal thing in the future is okay: You can work remote, and we’ll fly you out to the resorts every so often.”

Rebuilding faith in hospitality: “The pandemic has created an environment where confidence is something that needs to be rebuilt for people. There are a lot of people who say, ‘Boy, is this the right industry to be in?’ In our area of revenue optimization and data, quite frankly, every company now is doing this kind of work in every vertical, and so people are looking for areas with more stability. I think we have to do a lot more to communicate with people a level of confidence in the future, and that this is a good industry to be in.”

Realistic goals: “We also need to think about our own people this year, and how we bonus them and incent them and measure them, because with people shutting down inventory, they can’t necessarily win on the STAR Report or hit their budgets. So, what are those new measurements, and how do we make sure that we’re incenting them and rewarding them and recognizing their successes if it’s not through the numbers and the data?”

Recruiting students: “I wonder if the message that comes to hospitality students from all of our organizations has to be finetuned a little bit. If you’re looking for people in revenue management but you’re sending out talent scouts that are very focused in operations, revenue management gets very little voice. As heads of revenue strategy, are we figuring out what is our voice when we go to all of these places to recruit?”

More positive messaging: “I was going to comment on messaging as well, but externally. If you’re thinking about entering the industry or you’re making a change, or you’re just an adult looking for a position and you think hotels could be good because you could grow — we have a PR problem, right? The news is still about how much hotels are struggling, so when people are evaluating a job at XYZ or a job at the front desk, they’re probably going to go for XYZ, just because it seems maybe more stable and not like an industry on the verge of collapse. Figuring out a way to reframe that message could be very important from a recruiting perspective.”

Industries to Scout for Hospitality Sales Talent

While the war on talent is nothing new for the hospitality industry, the pandemic has made this an even bigger challenge. What other professions and industries can you target for talent and explore for new business development opportunities?

Here are suggestions from the HSMAI Sales Advisory Board’s Talent Workgroup:

Property management: From proactively reaching out and scheduling site tours, to contracting and closing the deal, property management is a good match for hospitality sales. While there is upward mobility in property management, hospitality has more options for one to grow. Get started with this list of the top commercial property management companies.

Assisted living: You may be able to lure assisted living sales professional to the hospitality industry with the promise of a more upbeat, positive, and future-focused working and sales environment. There is also a good skills match — especially when it comes to consultative selling and understanding clients’ short- and long-term needs. The average salary for sales managers in this sector is $58,000 to $70,000 plus bonuses. DOS compensation in this area is broad — from $65,000 to $302,000 plus bonuses. Get started by looking at the top 10 senior care organizations in the United States, listed here by company size:

  • Brookdale Senior Living
  • Genesis HealthCare
  • HCR ManorCare
  • Holiday Retirement
  • Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society
  • Golden Living
  • Sunrise Senior Living
  • Five Star Quality Care
  • Life Care Centers of America
  • Atria

Luxury sales: People in luxury sales are taught the value of brand, presentation of product, and personalized service. They are also experienced with customers who can be demanding. Most luxury brands have sales training programs to ensure they build consistency with their brands. Targets include luxury jewelry sales professionals (e.g., Tiffany & Co. and Cartier), luxury cruise lines such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Viking, luxury apartment community rental agents, and luxury car and private aviation sales. Salaries for these roles with the commission model range from $45,000 to $100,000.

Additional areas to target: Other professions and industries to consider include airline group sales (average salary of $72,000), OTA market managers ($70,000), ad salespeople and/or salespeople who represent hospitality vendors as Cvent and TravelClick ($65,000 to $80,000), promotional gifts salespeople ($55,000), third-party planners and travel advisers ($85,000), salespeople for freestanding catering facilities ($65,000 to $80,000), rental car group sales or corporate sales ($30,000 to $38,000), and people in sponsorship or fundraising, who understand how to overcome objections and often plan events and build relationships ($80,000 to $115,000).

The list goes on, from golf courses and professional sports teams to conference centers and chambers of commerce. For some hospitality companies, recruiting has already begun and there have been success stories in hiring, productivity, and retention.

HSMAI Top 25 Profile: Cesar Wurm, IHG

HSMAI recently honored the 2020 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. We’re profiling all of them in an HSMAI Special Report that we’re previewing with excerpts, including Cesar Wurm, Vice President of Commercial and Revenue Management IHG.

Cesar Wurm provides strategic direction, oversight, and leadership across all commercial and revenue optimization aspects of company-managed hotels at IHG. He has an extensive background in sales and marketing across brand segments and business models. Wurm has led high-stakes commercial efforts for Starwood, IHG, Trust Hospitality, and most recently, Hotel Equities. He graduated from Washington State University and Cesar Ritz College in Brig, Switzerland, and currently serves on the Customer Experience Executive Program Advisory Council at the George Washington University School of Business. Outside of work, Cesar can be found spending as much time as possible with his wife, Laura, and daughter, Gabby.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: As the pandemic’s impact was becoming clearer, Wurm put together a strategy to address the needs of a portfolio of hotels in various rampup stages across geographies. This initiative was successful, and he has since taken on complete accountability for the commercial and revenue optimization performance of IHG’s company-managed hotels across the Americas.

NOMINATED BY: Brian Hicks, IHG — “Cesar has shown great leadership through the crisis; he has remained calm, positive, and focused. He kept the team motivated through the most challenging of times. He is a true professional and is held in high esteem by his colleagues and anyone that has the privilege to interact with him.”

CESAR WURM ON STAYING MOTIVATED IN 2020: “Having wonderful people in my life — both personally and professionally. It allowed me to be grateful, stay healthy, and stay focused. As a result, it unleashed my intrinsic motivation and the ability to collaborate and perform at my best.”

How COVID Has Changed Travel Behavior

Of all the things that the pandemic disrupted around the hospitality business, nothing has been affected so deeply as guest behavior. From how guests book and travel to hotels, to what they expect in terms of service and amenities, to how they define value or approach loyalty — everything is not just different, but different for each individual guest.

In analyzing travel and booking patterns throughout the pandemic, experts in hospitality sales, marketing, and loyalty identified several key developments — some of which have long-term implications for hotel companies, especially as it relates to the importance of adapting quickly to changing guest behavior:

Leisure first: “A much higher percentage of our guests are leisure guests,” said Elizabeth Schultz, vice president of guest experience, strategy, and innovation for Hyatt Hotels Corporation. “They’re just a different makeup as it relates to not only what they’re looking for but also how they find us. They’re looking for value and they’re staying closer to home, so they’re more likely to drive. We did a survey asking people how far they were willing to drive pre-pandemic and post-pandemic. Pre-pandemic, it was somewhere in the neighborhood of two to four hours. Post-pandemic, guests were saying that they were willing to drive up to eight hours to go on a trip.”

Tighter booking: “We’ve seen a pretty significant shortening of the booking window,” said Eliot Hamlisch, executive vice president of loyalty and revenue optimization for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “Whereas customers used to be more interested in booking further out, just given the uncertainty of COVID spikes and pandemic-related trends more broadly, that booking window has shortened to a pretty great extent.”

Suburbs vs. cities: “The drive markets have continued to see more business than the markets that are dependent on airlift,” said David Fleuck, senior vice president of loyalty for Marriott International. “And it’s also changed a little bit by brand tier. It’s not quite one size fits all, but typically, your suburban hotels are seeing more guests than your typical big box. Your big-box urban centers are most severely impacted.”

Cautious and savvy: “It was one thing before COVID-19 struck that maybe something was outdated or something was inaccurate on the website, but now, accuracy is key because the traveler really needs to trust in the hotel and what they’re providing,” said Valerie Castillo, vice president of marketing for TrustYou. “They need to know exactly what amenities will be open, what will be closed, what their COVID-19 procedures are. We were always dealing with savvy travelers in the past, but now this particular traveler is even more attuned to being careful and to carefully selecting their accommodations. I think we’ll see that not just during the pandemic but immediately afterward, too.”

Added Sabrina Lillew, vice president of loyalty programs – North and Central America for Accor: “While health, safety, and wellbeing have always been important to guests, it’s something that they are placing further emphasis on. Guests are looking for assurances that the necessary cleaning and hygiene protocols are in place.”

Excerpted from Do You Know Your Guests?, a white paper from HSMAI and Trust You.