The 2021 Outlook for Hospitality and Travel

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

As part of HSMAI Road to Recovery 2020, global economist Bernard Baumohl will present a live webinar on Sept. 29 that offers insight into factors impacting recovery in hospitality and tourism around the globe. Recently, Baumohl spoke with HSMAI about his presentation, including what goes into making his predictions.

FORECASTING FACTORS

“I think we have to clearly brace ourselves for the next couple of months,” Baumohl said. “Right now and for the next eight weeks, we are going to be dealing with the tragedy of coronavirus and a political circus that will lead up to the November elections. There’s this toxic combination for the consumer and for businesses, and it will continue to have a negative impact on the leisure and hospitality industry.”

Baumohl said that there are three main factors that will shape the U.S. economy at least through 2022: the path of the virus, emergency funding from Congress, and who wins the presidential election. During his presentation, Baumohl will go over each factor and what happens in different scenarios for each one.

The first factor depends on how much more the virus spreads, which rests a lot on when a vaccine is developed, how effective it is, and if people are willing to take it, Baumohl said. “The effectiveness is critically important, because you can’t fix the economy and certainly not the industry without first fixing the virus.”

The second factor is what comes out of Congress in terms of an emergency funding package. “It is crucial that there be a financial bridge available at least until the vaccine is distributed,” he said. “It is necessary to keep businesses and the unemployed financially whole until then. If we do not have a meaningful package, then a recession is certain.”

Baumohl added that it is important to note that the Federal Reserve has done everything it can to support the economy. “It is now on Congress and the fiscal package,” he said. “A financial vaccine is needed until we get a coronavirus vaccine.”

The third factor is who is elected president. “We have radically different personalities with profoundly different policy agendas,” Baumohl said. “I will show what we think will happen if Trump wins or if Biden wins, and how it will affect the economy. It’s a major factor and their policies will have a huge impact on how the hospitality industry recovers.”

Even after coronavirus is no longer an active health threat, the economic and business landscape will look very different than it did during the pre-COVID world. Baumohl will review the areas where he expects to see major changes, then finish with additional factors that could affect the economy, including the possibility of the virus mutating, the accumulating national debt, and the risk of an international war. “There are lots of tensions that can derail economic expansion that are more political,” Baumohl said. “There are many international threats out there.”

THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY

One of the signs that the hospitality and travel industries are not close to recovery is the mass layoffs that are still occurring. “If companies are still seeing massive layoffs as late as August, that means these companies still don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Baumohl said. “If they were more confident at the outlook, we wouldn’t be seeing that. They aren’t convinced the economy will turn around and show a stronger recovery anytime soon, which is concerning.”

There is a lot at stake for the hospitality industry when it comes to who wins the presidency. “The industry needs fresh funding, and it matters if they will find it under Biden or Trump,” Baumohl said.

Baumohl said that overall he believes the leisure and hospitality industry will recover more slowly than the rest of the economy, as people likely will still be uncomfortable with gathering and taking trips. Much of this could depend on a vaccine becoming available, but even then, Baumohl said people will have concerns. “We have to be prepared to erase our business model and come up with new strategies in the aftermath of the virus,” Baumohl said. “There will be a lingering fear for many years of another pandemic. It came out of the blue, and it could happen again. That’s the scary part.”

CHANGING PREDICTIONS

Due to the ever-evolving state of the world, Baumohl and his colleagues have found themselves having to update their predictions at least once a month. “We’ve run out of erasers,” he joked, “because we have to keep making new assumptions. All the events that are happening are still very fluid. This is so unprecedented. We’ve never shut down the economy like this before, and now we’re trying to open it again without a vaccine. We find ourselves often having to change our predictions.”

The most difficult part of making a forecast is trying to guess how humans are going to react, Baumohl said. “You can’t predict human behavior based on math, so we will always be behind on that,” he said. “We can look at policy decisions, but we really have to dive into human insights such as when will people be more comfortable. That’s why we have to keep reforecasting.”

HSMAI will present “The Changing Economic & Business Landscape” at 2 p.m. EDT on Sept. 29. Register here.

Adrian Awards Case Study: Discover Puerto Rico’s ‘Have We Met Yet?’

Nominations for HSMAI’s 2020 Adrian Awards competition will open on Oct. 1 — with a special focus on best practices, innovation, and community related to hospitality advertising, marketing, and public relations work created in response to the coronavirus crisis. Take inspiration from last year’s Platinum winners, including Discover Puerto Rico, whose “ ‘Have We Met Yet?’ Brand Repositioning” was recognized in the Advertising/Advertising Campaign/Complete Campaign – Consumer/Group Sales/Travel Trade category.

BACKGROUND: Following Hurricane Maria in 2017, Discover Puerto Rico launched a campaign to combat inaccurate consumer perception of its tourism industry, highlight the island destination’s recovery, and drive visits and bookings. The organization also wanted to increase meetings and conventions business as well as long-term awareness of Puerto Rico as a travel destination.

CAMPAIGN: After conducting more than 4,100 consumer interviews in U.S. and international markets to determine its competitive position, key messaging, and target audience, Discover Puerto Rico created “Have We Met Yet?” to serve as a warm greeting and invitation that doubled as an introduction — or reintroduction — to Puerto Rico. The campaign aimed to separate the destination from its Caribbean competitors by highlight the depth and passion of Puerto Rican arts and culture, gastronomy, and natural attractions.

RESULTS: Consumers exposed to “Have We Met Yet?” spent more than $66 million in tracked hotel bookings in the three months following launch — and paid an average daily rate that was 11 percent higher than ADR for all hotel visitors during that period. After the campaign launched, 71 percent of meeting planners rated Puerto Rico as a desirable location for a meeting, leading to a 41-percent increase in meeting bookings and a 34-percent increase in room nights.

The 2020 Adrian Awards are also taking nominations for the HSMAI Hospitality Hero award. Nominations will be reviewed each week by a panel of Adrian judges, and selected Heroes will be honored weekly online leading up to the Adrian entry period as well as at the 2021 Adrian Awards celebration. Learn more and submit a Hero nomination.

PR Best Practices: Contiki’s #VoteWithNoRegrets

Nominations for HSMAI’s 2020 Adrian Awards competition will open on Oct. 1 — with a special focus on best practices, innovation, and community related to hospitality advertising, marketing, and public relations work created in response to the coronavirus crisis. Take inspiration from last year’s Platinum winners, including Contiki, whose “#VoteWithNoRegrets” campaign was recognized in the Public Relations-PR Campaign-Public Affairs/PSAs category.

BACKGROUND: Contiki wanted to build on its once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences for young people and boost engagement with its #NOREGRETS slogan. It aimed to leverage its joie de vivre philosophy and reputation among young people to increase voting and participation in the 2018 mid-term election cycle. The target audience included 18-to-35-year-olds with a propensity to travel.

CAMPAIGN: Contiki’s campaign used the slogan #VoteWithNoRegrets as its focal point, encouraging young people to vote with the same enthusiasm with which they travel. The brand offered a chance for a free trip to destinations such as Cambodia, Portugal, and New Zealand in exchange for posting an “I Voted” selfie and following/tagging Contiki on Instagram. Contiki’s strategy relied on the company’s prior research on young travelers as well as amplification from media coverage of the 2018 midterm elections.

RESULTS: The campaign generated more than 2,300 social posts hashtracking #VoteWithNoRegrets, 2 million social media impressions, and 4 billion editorial/digital impressions, with 63 stories across millennial titles and traditional media and travel publications. Instagram interactions tripled on launch day, and positive gains included 2,500 new Instagram followers and 12,500 profile visits.

The 2020 Adrian Awards are also taking nominations for the “HSMAI Hospitality Hero” award. Nominations will be reviewed each week by a panel of Adrian judges and selected Heroes will be honored weekly online leading up to the Adrian entry period, as well as at the 2021 Adrian Awards celebration. Learn more and submit a Hero nomination.

Reopening Concerns and Best Practices for Hotel Management Companies

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

HSMAI hosted the final event in a series of three Hotel Management Company Sales & Marketing Virtual Executive Roundtables on June 11 that focused on the impact that COVID-19 is having on sales and marketing at HMCs. Roundtable participants discussed their biggest concerns as hotels are beginning to reopen and shared the best practices they have learned along the way. Here are key takeaways from the discussion:

STAFFING CONCERNS

As some furloughed employees are beginning to return to work, companies must handle the logistical issues of deciding who should be prioritized — and in some cases convincing people to come back. Several Roundtable participants mentioned that through the end of July, many furloughed employees will still be making more on unemployment than if they are working their job again, which doesn’t incentivize them to come back.

Meanwhile, many employees are doing jobs that they never signed on for, such as a marketer working in laundry. This brings another round of complications to the rehiring process, one participant pointed out. Even if the marketing team is ready to bring an employee back full-time, somebody still has to do the laundry, which means that that another employee has to be rehired for that position, or someone has to be shifted into it. “We’re trying to work as a team, because you have to take the staffing levels of the entire hotel into consideration,” the participant said. “We’ve got a lot of requests from different departments and not enough staff to fulfill them. Everyone believes that they are the most important, but we all have to figure out a way to help out other departments and do our normal jobs.”

PERMANENT CHANGES

COVID-19 has brought many changes to the industry in all disciplines, as hotels struggle to stay afloat. But while some changes are only temporary, others are here to stay as the industry reinvents itself.

One change that several participants mentioned is the need for employees to be multitaskers and work in different segments. “Job descriptions need to be updated,” one participant said. “Everyone has to be a generalist, from social media marketers to sales managers. We have to be prepared for everything. This is a call for us to think about hospitality differently.”

Sales departments in particular have needed to adapt very quickly to the new conditions. “We talk a lot about how you’re selling everything now, not just in one area,” one participant said.

“The sales relationship we’ve had for so long is changing and will continue to change,” another participant said. “Our sales teams can barely connect with customers when they’re at home, which changes the need for a relationship role to a technological role. Sales specialists need to be able to use technology platforms and follow through there.”

BEST PRACTICES

Roundtable participants offered advice on everything from managing teams to bringing in business. Here in their own words are some of their suggestions:

  • “Cross-train everyone. People are willing to do what it takes to survive right now, and they have to be able to work in different areas.”
  • “We’re doing weekly reviews to determine what segments are booking. It’s giving us the opportunity to review and redirect from what is not working as we struggle to find where the business is.”
  • “Right now, we have team goals instead of individual goals and it’s been working well. Normally this is more of an individual sport, but we have to a team sport for the time being.”
  • “The people on my team who are being the most flexible were surprisingly the younger leaders. I thought that the ones who had been through downturns before would be able to pivot and know that they have to try new things, but they’re stuck. We have to get them to think of things differently.”
  • “Our teams have to want to stay when they come out of this. We need to have empathy for them so that they don’t regret having to work 100-hour weeks right now.”
  • “Think out of the box. One of our hotels’ greatest successes was a having backyard rate and putting out a banner in front and advertising at the laundromat. The never would have expected that a few months ago.”
  • “Remember that your teams are having a hard time, too. Our sales teams have been through two-and-a-half months of cancellations and their spirits are broken right now. Be as compassionate with them as you can.”
  • “We’re looking at university dorm overflow as a source of revenue for the fall, as schools open back up but still need to keep students socially distanced in their dorm rooms.”
  • “There are a lot of owner expectations and pressure from owners who don’t understand the situation fully. That brings morale down for our teams, but we have to bring it up and keep them motivated, even with the lack of business and the increased frustrations.”

Professionals from these companies participated in the HSMAI Hotel Management Company Sales & Marketing Virtual Executive Roundtables: Aimbridge Hospitality; Atlific Hotels; Commonwealth Hotels, LLC; Crescent Hotels; GF Hotels & Resorts; Kessler Collection; LBA Hospitality; M&R Hotel Management; Marcus; Prism Hotels & Resorts; Pyramid Hotel Group; Regency Hotel Management; Remington hotels; Sage Hospitality Group; Sound Hospitality Management; Staypineapple Hotels; Summit Hospitality Group; and Wright Investments.

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Recovery Resources page.

When Revenue Professionals Return to Work

Darline Dondl is associate director of reporting for Marriott Vacations Worldwide, which is based in Orlando, Florida, and a member of the board of the HSMAI Central Florida Chapter’s Board of Directors. Her office transitioned to work from home, and she has been working reduced hours throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Dondl offers tips for revenue optimization specialists and other hospitality professionals who will be returning to work after COVID-19.

1. Apply what is relevant. With the myriad trends and data that have been shared for today’s changing landscape, it is important to find the nuggets that can be applied to your business. Approach the article or report as a way to broaden your perspective, then compare that information to the trends in your property and market. The data is changing at a rapid pace and is presented in multiple views that may not be helpful; be sure to focus your time on what will be impactful to your team.

2. Embrace what you learned. There has been new technology introduced, work-from-home etiquette, and revelations from training that we can take with us as we return to our routines. The times that we complained of too many meetings were replaced by cleared calendars. Were the virtual meetings more efficient than multiple emails? Was productivity changed by working from home, or impacted by more distractions? Did you have more of a routine to maximize your workday with adjusted hours? What were those key takeaways you had during a webinar that you intended to implement? Focus on the positive impact you can have on your new schedule.

3. Reevaluate your “normal.” We tend to get in a routine, so just like you do with a fresh start every new year, take this time to review your normal reports and see if they are still beneficial. Is there a new report that the team relied on to navigate during this time of abundant change and will it be useful moving forward, or can changes be captured, so it will be more comprehensive when reviewing trends? In order to capitalize on everyone’s time, make sure the reports that are being produced are being used — and ask for feedback, because they will tell you!

4. Balance of the year will be a new understanding for the industry. Flexible cancellations and delayed vacations have skewed the trends we have relied on to make our forecasts, but the data will continue to give us new markers in the trends. A deeper dive into the data will show us the change in our mix of business, the adjusted booking window, or the channel that is still producing strong. A little repetitive, but we can’t rely on the same reports — the trends may not be obvious — so changing the report filters to room type or channel can help the sales and marketing teams execute strategies that can be captured in the forecast revisions.

5. Budgeting for 2021 will present a unique challenge. Prepare for the need for more data than just “same time last year” or “prior year.” Understand the data that your revenue system or your property’s reports use, so when you’re developing a useful strategy there are no surprises or line items you have to continue to explain each time they’re reviewed. It may be more useful to build your strategy at an average of a few years until the markets return. Remember to adjust your corporate negotiated rates to align more closely with retail rate strategy that was most likely impacted. Collaboration with sales, marketing, and revenue teams will be essential to get everyone’s support for success and profitability.

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.

10 Tips for Getting Back to Group Sales

By Alan Kilker, Senior Sales Executive, JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa

More than ever in group/convention sales, relationships count. As we think about the interactions we’ll be having with our valued clients as we all get back in the office, energized to restart business as usual, it’s important as hotel sales professionals that we remember that everyone has been through some trauma associated with COVID-19. While some have been affected more than others, we must be sensitive and compassionate as we build up our sales teams professionally and emotionally and work to put business back on the books.

For me, imagining what this looks like comes down to a list that I’ve developed and plan to keep mentally handy as a daily reminder. I’m also sharing it with colleagues who will join me in stepping back into an industry that has been hard hit in a way that none of us could have foreseen. Here’s my take on getting back to business:

1. Show genuine concern. We need to understand and empathize with the current health and economic conditions of the meetings industry.

2. Remember, it is about partnership. Confirm and continue to build those close, personal partner relationships that are important today and in the future.

3. Keep what’s best for both parties foremost in mind. It is a two-way relationship, and that’s often what turns business partnerships into lifelong friendships.

4. Maintain honesty and integrity in all communications. Being a trusted resource for your clients means full transparency.

5. Stay in touch and be persistent, but be patient. Sales professionals shouldn’t be pushy or inconsiderate. Work closely with planners to clear away any obstacles to moving forward; ask yourself what you can do to assist them.

6. Reinforce the value of working together. Through collaboration, both parties are helping each other keep convention business moving forward. By maintaining our mutual commitment to the future, both parties’ needs and objectives can be met.

7. Remind clients that future meetings require planning now. Acknowledge that planners have had to handle frustrating short-term challenges, but urge them not to forget about the long-term health of their organizations. The future will be here before they know it, and working together, you can ensure that their meeting plans are set and secure.

8. Be reasonable and your clients will return the favor. We can continually show the hospitality industry’s commitment to the meetings industry by offering honest, reasonable, and suitable terms and conditions, so both parties win any negotiations.

9. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Many parties are involved with meetings decisions — especially now. Boards of directors, committees, and others often provide input or vote on meeting destinations and other planning details. By going out of your way to be helpful and asking your contacts directly, “What can I do to assist you in moving this decision further ahead?,” you will be providing support and assistance that will elevate their meeting decision as a top priority.

10. Offer a positive vision of the future. Be generous with assurances that by booking future business now, your clients are playing a big part in the entire convention industry’s recovery. A mutual commitment will bring the hospitality industry back to work full force, assuring its financial health and future. Show the benefits of securing great dates before first choices are snapped up.

I always sell with two key ingredients at the forefront: empathy for the needs of my clients, and years of honed business acumen that keeps my eye keenly trained on the responsibilities I have to my property and to my sales team. While these 10 reminders likely won’t fundamentally change the foundation of how many of us do business, they may recharge our conviction that the services we provide our clients are highly customized to prioritize their safety and comfort. And, of course, sitting with my clients — whether virtually or in person — I will begin each interaction by acknowledging that their meetings are crucial gatherings that are often at the center of their organizations’ heart and culture.

So, what is my job today, in a world still fraught with pandemic worry and uncertainty? More than ever, it will be to continue to make my clients’ meetings relaxing, educational, joyful, and comfortable — and an experience where their teams, association members, and leadership are truly positioned to excel through today’s challenges and beyond.

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.

Best Practices for Hotel Management Company Sales and Marketing Professionals

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

HSMAI hosted a Hotel Management Company Sales & Marketing Virtual Roundtable on April 30 that focused on the impact that COVID-19 is having on HMCs. After being in the trenches for more than a month, HMC sales and professionals shared their best practices, lessons learned, and ideas for continued success. Here are five of their suggestions, presented in their own words:

1. SUPPORT YOUR EMPLOYEES:

  • “I think leadership matters. Making your people feel good about what they’re doing makes them work. It is an interesting dynamic seeing who goes out there and fights to get one room filled and who sits around saying, ‘Nothing’s coming in.’”
  • “You need to remember to be positive and move forward and use your time well, but understand how the environment is impacting them personally. Do they have kids at home they have to take care of? It’s all over the place with the gains, but it begins and ends with great leadership and great compassion.”
  • “We’re always talking about sprinkling sunshine on the guests and listening and finding creative solutions so they walk away feeling good, and we need to do the same for each other. We have to keep our employees’ energy high whether they’re on furlough or working with us shoulder to shoulder now.”
  • “I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is the power of personal interaction. We got so tied up with sending quick emails to clients, guests, employees — with everything slowing down, I’ve had the time to call all of my directors and check on them. It makes them feel like they’re more than just a number and they work harder when know they’re appreciated.”

2. GO BACK TO BASICS:

  • “It’s given us some time to reevaluate what our sales and communications message is to our customers. The new message is softer, more emotional, and what the root of the business is in hospitality. We will take care of you, ensure you’re safe, and make sure your experience is extraordinary. That’s different than what we were pushing out a few months ago.”
  • “When it comes to salespeople, the cream really does rise to the top. When you get back to basics, you understand persistence and aggressive selling are who you’re looking for. Now is the time you find out who your true salespeople are and who you want moving forward.”
  • “We need to simplify and just focus on taking care of the customer.”

3. RETHINK YOUR PLANS:

  • “It’s a good time to review processes and make sure what we’ve been doing is the best way of handling different situations. Revenue, sales, and marketing are working even closer together, and it has given us ways to rethink how we work together moving forward.”
  • “We see the importance in having some type of plan in place in the event that there’s another economic downturn. Everyone was blindsided by this thing. We’ve made some SOPs to deal with things like this. We’re adding to our file on a daily basis and will have it for many years, so we can access that if something happens again.”

4. UNDERSTAND THE PERSONAL TOUCH:

  • “We have been writing notes to all of our clients, top accounts or local rewards members, and it has paid off because it’s going to people’s homes. We’re getting phone calls saying that this blew them away. Not asking for business, just checking in with them and letting them know we are there for them when they are ready to come back.”
  • “Our hotels in New York have been completely decimated. The power of teamwork in that environment has been amazing. We had one hotel underperforming, and every one of our employees participated in advertising on their social media pages. I gave a $100 gift card to who got the most likes, but they donated it to a healthcare worker in need. The stories I hear every day make my heart happy.”
  • “Think outside the box to keep in touch personally with clients. It’s interesting to see how I’ve always complained about the younger generation communicating via email or texts instead of in person, but now we’re having to do what what they been telling us to do in order to communicate with clients, and we have to learn how to better incorporate that sales aspect.”

5. EMBRACE THE CONSTANT CHANGE

  • “One of the things we did before this was constantly innovate, and this gave us a better space to do this. We’re not out of this yet to know all the changes, but the more we can ideate and test things, the better. At this point, we have nothing to lose. Fail fast and fail forward.”
  • “This is very dynamic and changing at breakneck speed. I caution everybody to be very careful about making assumptions on service. There will be a temporary normal, but then normal. When there’s a vaccine, we’ll get back to handshakes and things will slowly come back. In general, we need to get through week-to-week right now.”

The virtual roundtable participants included representatives from these 22 hotel management companies:

Atlific Hotels; Chartwell Hospitality; Crescent Hotels and Resorts; CUSA Hotel Management; Dimension Development; GF Hotels & Resorts; HHM; Hostmark Hopitality; HVS Asset Management; LBA Hospitality; Library Hotel Collection; M&R Hotel Management; Marcus Hotels and Resorts; OTO Development; Prism Hotels & Resorts; Pyramid Hotel Group; Regency Hotel Management; Remington Hotels; Sound Hospitality Management; Staypineapple Hotels; Summit Hospitality Group; and Wright Investments.

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.

Best Practices for Hotel Loyalty Professionals

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

HSMAI hosted a Chief Loyalty Officer Virtual Roundtable on April 3 that focused on the impact that COVID-19 is having on hotel loyalty programs. CLO participants shared best practices, lessons learned, and ideas for preparing to accelerate as quickly as possible. Here are three of their suggestions, presented in their own words:

1. FOCUS ON CUSTOMER NEEDS

  • “Go back to basics. Consumer behavior is going to look different, and that’s something we have to take into account with our loyalty programs and business in general.”
  • “What we have learned is the customer appreciates working with us directly. Some booked through OTAs and weren’t able to cancel their reservation. That’s an opportunity for us.”

2. ACT QUICKLY AND DECISIVELY

  • “We have been making decisions quickly and taking out layers of bureaucracy to do what is right. We have to be flexible with our thinking in ways that we weren’t in the past.”
  • “Act decisively. We’ve been making sure to treat guests with empathy and really changing how we communicate with guests to highlight the things we’ve been doing from a community perspective to generate goodwill. We’ve had to learn how to operate in a very different way. There are a lot of takeaways on operating more effectively.

3. COMMUNICATE WITH HOTELS

  • “We’ve been doing daily check-ins. Everything is changing so fast, and getting on video chat with different groups every day helps keep things moving.”
  • “We hosted four town halls for our hotels in the Americas, the U.K., Europe, and Japan. We covered a lot of topics. It was an opportunity for our hotels to hear directly from us and know what we were hearing and what were planning to do. A lot has changed, so we will be doing additional ones in the coming weeks, but the strength was connecting with member hotels. We are an extension of them, their eyes and ears.”

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.

Best Practices for Hospitality Marketing Professionals

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

HSMAI hosted a Chief Marketing Officer Virtual Roundtable on March 31 that focused on the impact that COVID-19 is having on hotel marketing. In addition to discussing key indicators they are using to track how the hospitality industry is doing, CMO participants shared their best practices, lessons learned, and ideas for preparing to accelerate as quickly as possible. Here are four of their suggestions, presented in their own words:

1. KEEP YOUR MIND ON RECOVERY:

  • “There seems to be a race to the bottom. How can we set everything so aggressively we can survive the next few months? But you also have to keep in mind coming back out. I’m interested to see how companies manage through that. I imagine if you let everyone go, when you decide to bring them back, there’s a process that won’t be very efficient and you may not have an engaged group to help you recover quickly.”
  • “If we’re going to cut off our nose to spite our face right now, we have to be ahead of the recovery with our planning and strategy and building and implementation. If we start to cut our teams too aggressively, we’re not going to be out in front of it.”
  • “Hotels that dropped rate in previous downturns were the slowest to recover, so we are working to make sure owners and managers know they should hold rate and help them understand that undercutting everyone isn’t going to help them in the long run.”
  • “We’re trying to maintain a hyper focus on our customers and understand where they are emotionally. We want to understand what consumers need from us. We’re hoping this approach will take us through the long term and we will be there when they are ready to purchase again.”

2. FORGE STRONG COMMUNICATION BETWEEN OWNERS AND MANAGERS:

  • “We have close engagement with our ownership groups, since they’re funding a lot of the efforts. We’ve been very close in forecasting with them, so they’re prepared and feel engaged with us and we can get our teams back in place.”
  • “We’re making sure management and ownership are aligned. It allows you to make tough decisions and gives you support when reopening. Engaging with folks really helps.”

3. FIND POSSIBILITIES FOR REINVENTION:

  • “I think this is a world where we’re going to have to reinvent. We’re focusing on capabilities that have value and efficiencies. A lot of it is around automation.”
  • “We’re treating it as if we’re a new company and questioning everything. When we open back up, it’s not going to be the same as we were before. We have this opportunity to rethink everything going forward.”
  • “The importance of knowing who your key players are. That way you can understand what your team is going to look like. It’s making me stop and rethink a lot of roles and where those roles sit within the organization.”
  • “We’re looking at this as an opportunity to reemerge differently by accelerating some capital projects, and we plan to come out of it in a stronger position.”

4. KEEP AN EYE ON CHINA:

  • “In China, they were in the process of closing for three weeks. We’re still in that three-week period. Then they went through four weeks of being closed, but eventually after that four-week period, they started opening again and most are open now. So, we could be opening back up around mid-May, but April is going to be really tough.”
  • “We’ve had the benefit of seeing the China strategy. It’s provided some calmness, because we can anticipate what things are going to look like.”

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.