HSMAI Customer Insight: Full Speed Ahead for Holiday Travel Planning | Longwoods International

In Longwoods International’s latest look at Holiday Season travel activities:  Seven out of ten travelers with plans to travel this holiday season will be visiting friends and relatives!  60% indicate shopping trips… and the biggest areas of growth year over year are visiting museums at 27% (up 6 points from 2021), attend a festival/fair at 25% (up 7 points), and attend a live performance at 21% (up 5 points).  Holiday travel is returning more to patterns seen pre-pandemic. Get more insights on the findings for HSMAI from Longwoods President & CEO Amir Eylon:


Access the full report: American Travel Sentiment Study – Wave 67: IT’S FULL SPEED AHEAD FOR HOLIDAY TRAVEL PLANNING


Commercial Strategy Week Insight: Consumer Trends are the Future of Hospitality

Daniel Levine, Executive Director, Avant Guide Institute, delivered a keynote address on  Global Trends & Evolving Customers…and what they mean for hotel marketing, at the HSMAI Marketing Strategy Conference, part of Commercial Strategy Week 2022.

HSMAI Customer Insight: Post-Pandemic Travelers Seek Work/Life Balance | Longwoods

Longwoods International’s most recent research looking at American Travel Sentiment towards the current relationship between one’s work and travel as compared to last year, showed several interesting things including:

    • 58% of American travelers indicate that they are less likely to work during their leisure trips than they were a year ago!
    • 66% say they are more focused now on their work/life balance!

This likely signals a shift in travelers really needing to disconnect more when they get away for leisure purposes, despite the growing trend of “bleisure” travel!  These folks felt always “on” or connected to the office during the pandemic and now are seeking more of a break when it’s “leisure time!” Hear more about the findings from Longwoods President & CEO Amir Eylon, for HSMAI:


See the full findings here: American Travel Sentiment Study – Wave 66: Post-Pandemic Travelers Seek Work/Life Balance

HSMAI Special Report: 2021 Adrian Awards: Platinum and President’s Award Honorees

The 2021 HSMAI Adrian Awards celebrate the creative and innovative digital marketing, advertising, and public relations work completed during one of the most unique times hospitality and travel has ever seen. The theme for this year’s Adrian Awards is “Empowering Recovery” — a premise that has been top of mind for everyone in this profession. Marketing has been at the forefront of leading the recovery of travel, encouraging guests and visitors to get back on the road, and inspiring them to create the moments and experiences they’ll never forget. At our awards ceremony held in March in Boca Raton, Florida, we honored and recognized the great work done by hotels, destinations, and their agency partners to get travelers moving again, showcase safety and security, and welcome those traveling for the first time in over a year. In this special report, we spotlight the platinum and president’s award winners and showcase their best practices in the categories of digital marketing, public relations, advertising and diversity marketing.


Is the Growing Skew Toward Women in Sales, Marketing and Revenue Management Leadership a Bad Thing?

By Peggy Berg, Founder, Castell, an AHLA Foundation Project and Sarah Cozewith, VP Career Development, AHLA Foundation – For the HSMAI Foundation

The importance of elevating women in hospitality to senior executive roles cannot be overstated.  Promoting diverse leadership strengthens business profitability and creates a culture of belonging and inclusion.

The good news is gender parity in hospitality is on the rise. In 2021, the industry saw more women in senior executive roles, successfully advancing every aspect of their companies. There are more women on the podium, building their careers and inspiring others. In sales and marketing and revenue management roles, gender representation of women significantly outpaced the general industry’s increase last year.

Across all hospitality fields, women hold 29 percent of positions from VP to Chief levels. However, in sales and marketing, women hold 56 percent of those positions and 58 percent in revenue management.

At the director level, women hold 67 percent of sales and marketing roles, indicating the disparity will increase toward women at higher levels in these fields over time. The director level has been skewed toward women for several years in these fields, highly impacting sales and marketing roles which are held by more than twice the number of women than men.

Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, however, the potential implications require awareness and caution.

It’s difficult to attract men to fields dominated by women, just as it has been difficult to build female representation in male-dominated fields. For instance, attracting women to technology and finance has been challenging, while K-12 education and nursing have seen an increase in men, but remain strongly skewed toward women.

On average, diverse teams perform better across business endeavors. Diverse teams access a wider array of talent, connect to a broader market, and possess differentiated ideas and skills. When a field is dominated by one group, it becomes less desirable or exclusionary to others, and the access that comes from diversity suffers. There is also a compensation risk. Historically, “women’s jobs” have paid less. Gender balance is part of keeping compensation in fields like revenue management and marketing competitive with male-dominated fields like finance.

Recognizing the growing imbalance, it is important to deliberately attract and develop men as well as women to revenue management and sales and marketing careers.

AHLA and AHLA Foundation are proud to support women in hospitality with leadership programs tailored specifically to their advancement, including ForWard and BUILD and ELEVATE. A full report on Women in Hospitality Leadership 2022 is available at https://www.ahla.com/sites/default/files/women_in_hospitality_industry_leadership_0.pdf.

HSMAI Customer Insight: Travelers Planning Fewer Trips Because of Gas Prices | Longwoods

According to the latest Longwoods International tracking study of American travelers, 44% of them say they are reducing the number of trips they are taking because of record-high prices at the pump, up from 36% in May.  A similar percentage are also shifting to destinations closer to home as another way to cope with high gas prices.  Only 12% of those surveyed said that rising gas prices are not impacting their travel plans. Insights on the findings for HSMAI from Longwoods President & CEO Amir Eylon:


Get the Full Report: American Travel Sentiment Study – Wave 63: Travelers Planning Fewer Trips Because of Gas Prices

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 (bob.gilbert@hsmai.org) and Mike Francis (mike.francis@zs.com).

HSMAI Customer Insight: Record-High Gas Prices Disrupt Travel Plans | Longwoods

According to the latest Longwoods International tracking study of American travelers, 41% of them say record-high prices at the pump will greatly impact their decisions to travel in the next six months, up from 32% in May.  And 36% of travelers report that higher fuel costs and ticket prices are reducing the likelihood of booking air travel for the rest of this year.

Even with these price and cost concerns, 91% of travelers do have trips planned in the next six months.  And only 16% of them say that coronavirus will greatly impact their travel plans in the next six months, the lowest level since the beginning of the pandemic more than two years ago. Insights for HSMAI from Longwoods President & CEO Amir Eylon:


Read the full report: American Travel Sentiment Study – Wave 62 Record-High Gas Prices Disrupt Travel Plans

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.”


Renewing the Talent Pipeline: State of Talent Report

By Karen Wollard, Ed. D., CHDM, HSMAI Foundation Research Manager

The hospitality labor shortage is real, and there are few easy answers. Talent was lost in 2020 to furloughs and layoffs, but also to individuals who chose to retire, transition to other industries, or downsize their household income to accommodate diverse needs. Globally, the pandemic has changed visa rules, and immigrant workers who are essential, especially in operations, have not returned. Hotel Management magazine posed this question in late May 2021: How can we market the career potential and the core purpose of the industry to a new base?

The shock of the coronavirus pandemic has cost the travel industry 8 million jobs. Three million of those are hotel jobs, of which half a million were not expected to return by the start of this year, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a dramatic drop in the accommodation sector in the United States in 2020. Many hotel employees who have weathered 20 years and multiple downturns have questioned whether they should look for a career opportunity in a different industry. “Consider all options because the firm [you worked for] has shown their true opinion of you by furloughing you,” offered one consumer marketing executive with more than 20 years of experience at a major hotel brand. At this point, it is hard to imagine that there is a global labor shortage, but consider this analogy: Weather is not climate.

Employees who were separated for a year or more sought positions in other industries and chose not to return. The reputation of hospitality and tourism organizations was that they did not support their people in a crisis. This was a major reason 60% of 30,000 job seekers said they would not consider a hospitality job, according to a survey conducted by Joblist.com. Even with incentives such as higher pay, more benefits, signing bonuses and free food, 69% said nothing would change their mind about considering a hospitality job.

Hospitality Schools

Hospitality schools have traditionally been the source of talent for career-oriented interns, management trainees, and first-level supervisors. Declining enrollment in hospitality programs began in 2016, when demographic changes resulted in fewer college-aged students. In 2020, management training programs were abandoned, and new hires were few, so new graduates had to seek other sources of employment. HSMAI Foundation’s academic roundtables found that the top area of concentration in hospitality schools is event planning, followed by operations and then food and beverage management. Marketing, sales, and revenue areas never rank above fourth place.

For sourcing sales, marketing, and revenue management rising stars, the number of skilled graduates isn’t likely to improve, since 49% of hospitality schools still offer no sales classes, and 44% offer no revenue management courses. Most schools offer a general marketing course for hospitality, using a marketing principles concept. This means that hoteliers must either completely train new people for these commercial positions or offer incentives to lure trained talent from other companies.

Faculty told us that most of their students have no exposure to commercial hotel career positions until they take a course in one of the disciplines. Students don’t know how to learn more about these jobs, and hotels rarely expose interns or management trainees to the work in these departments, so there is not a clear career pathway for students to follow. It can be hard for those who have interest to get information or a foot in the door. To make matters worse, the operations departments often have and foster negative opinions about the sales department.

Looking beyond hospitality schools to fill commercial positions is one option many hotels pursue. Business, computer science, accounting, math, and other majors can often be a good fit with appropriate training. Hotels have historically been hesitant to hire people from other industries, preferring to nurture their own talent within the organization, yet necessity is likely to broaden recruitment prospects.

The world is entering a talent migration that’s bigger than anything we’ve seen before, as many employees found their skills were transferable to other industries and that many jobs could be done from anywhere with a reliable internet connection.

The talent shortage is also driving up wages, with new hires being paid, on average, 20% more. Some operations job openings are at the highest levels in history. This is causing HR staffers to commit all their time to recruiting line-level operations people, leaving most commercial executives to source their own talent.

Some hotels have begun applying the sales and marketing strategies usually used to attract guests to the staff recruitment process. Creative advertising design and placement, along with robust sales efforts at job fairs and college recruitment events, are just a few examples of how sales and marketing skills are being applied across new markets.

Commercial executives must help their organizations better sell the dream if they are going to attract and/or retain top talent who will address the challenges of building back business. No longer will the right talent be looking for us. Hotels need to be creating talent workgroups who can ask the tough questions: Do we have clear career paths? Are our salaries competitive? Are we offering the right incentives? Are our supervisors respected, knowledgeable and liked? Are our expectations in line?

This is an excerpt from the HSMAI Foundation’s State of Hotel Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization Talent: 2020-2021 special report. To learn more about the HSMAI Foundation and its mission, visit the Foundation website.