HSMAI SPECIAL REPORT: 2020 Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization

HSMAI’s Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization are always just that: extraordinary. But our most recent class of honorees is something else. Presented with IDeaS, a SAS company — our Top 25 Program Partner — the Top 25 recognizes leaders in sales, marketing, and revenue optimization from hospitality, travel, and tourism organizations for their accomplishments in the preceding 18 months. The profiles of all of them in this HSMAI Special Report — made possible with the support of HSMAI Organizational Member companies — show that their efforts on behalf of their guests, clients, and team members are not just extraordinary but inspirational.

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HSMAI Customer Insight: Travelers Both Optimistic and Cautious | Longwoods International

According to the latest Longwoods International tracking study of American travelers, 88% of them now have travel plans in the next six months, the highest level in more than a year.  However, less than a third of them are likely to visit a tourism attraction or business which does not have clear COVID safety protocols, such as mask requirements and social distancing, in place. “It’s obvious from the data that Americans are ready to travel again, but only if they believe they can do safely,” said Amir Eylon, President and CEO of Longwoods International. Hear his observations for HSMAI:


Full Report: COVID-19 Travel Sentiment Study – Wave 34: Travelers Both Optimistic and Cautious

Hotel HR Responses to the Pandemic

While 2020 was a difficult year for the hospitality industry, one of the bright spots was the manner in which human resources (HR) professionals responded to the many unanticipated and still-evolving challenges associated with the pandemic. During a series of executive roundtables that the HSMAI Foundation organized in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific, hotel HR leaders shared the strategies and practices they have implemented in response to the talent crisis that COVID 19 has triggered throughout the industry. While their initial efforts centered on retrenchment and building resilience, gradually they shifted to identifying new solutions for attracting.

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108 Terms Every Hotel Sales Professional Needs to Know

Can you define the term “displacement analysis” off the top of your head? What about “EBITA” or “FFO”?

As silos in hotel organizations continue to erode, and as sales professionals engage at a higher level with owners, asset managers, GMs, revenue management teams, and marketers, they are increasingly expected to demonstrate their knowledge of the sales discipline as well as operations and other functions. If you want to further your career in hotel sales, you need to brush up on your business acumen. One easy way to do that is to sharpen your understanding of the acronyms, jargon, and terminology used in and around the business of hotels. It will help you strengthen your skills, build your reputation as a knowledgeable team member, and form the foundation for your future success.

Check out the list of terms that HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board identified as being crucial for every hotel sales professional to know.

What We’ve Learned From Nine Months of COVID

Sherri Kimes has been on top of the pandemic since the beginning. The hospitality revenue expert and HSMAI Vanguard Award for Lifetime Achievement in Revenue Optimization recipient, conducted surveys right out of the gate, in March and April, to gauge how the industry was responding to COVID-19. With her latest report, Nine Months of Covid: Advice From the Global Hotel Industry, she’s gone even broader and deeper, partnering with HSMAI and Revinate to survey a thousand hospitality professionals in a hundred countries.

“Given that it has been over nine months since hotels started to be affected by COVID,” said Kimes, emeritus professor of operations management at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and a visiting professor of analytics and operations at the Business School at the National University of Singapore, “I wanted to learn more about what they had done, how well their tactics had worked, and to get their advice on best practices.”

While the report paints an overall picture that isn’t pretty — Kimes identifies average decreases in ADR, occupancy, and RevPAR of 31.4, 43.7, and 41.7 percent, respectively — it contains some hopeful notes as well. In an interview with HSMAI, Kimes shared highlights.

What are some key findings from the survey?

  • People are pretty pessimistic about recovery — most of the 1,000 respondents think that it will take at least six to nine months for recovery.
  • There are major cultural differences both in enforcement of restrictions and HR policies.

What results surprised you most?

I don’t know if it surprised me, but I was really struck at the strong cultural differences between Asia Pacific/Middle East/Africa and Europe/Americas.

What can the last nine months tell us about preparing for 2021?

  • The importance of planning and being prepared for all eventualities.
  • The fact that forecasting based on historical data will most probably not work. Instead, focus in on more recent and outside events.
  • For hotels with a strong international base, be sure to keep up-to-date on developments in your client countries to see the impact on travel.

What are your thoughts on if/when a sustained recovery might happen?

At least a year.

HSMAI Customer Insight: Rising COVID-19 Numbers Put Pressure on Holiday Travel Plans | Longwoods

According to the most recent Longwoods International tracking study of American travelers, 15% of them have canceled their holiday travel plans in the last two weeks as the coronavirus surges nationwide.  Another 10% shifted their holiday trips from a fly trip to a driving one. Meanwhile, almost half say they did not plan to travel during the holidays and that has not changed since mid-November.

Full Report:

HSMAI Customer Insight: Building Trust, Gaining Confidence, Encouraging Awareness | MMGY

While news about potential vaccines is fueling a powerful sense of hope, we are still in the depths of extraordinarily difficult times. Fears over health and safety are pervasive, small businesses are shuttering, and uncertainty remains about what the next several months will look like. But what we can do is harness all those concerns by laying the groundwork based on our concrete knowledge. We saw a frenzy of travel bookings around Black Friday, spurred in part by flexible policies and steep discounts; DMOs are mobilizing their communities to bolster and revive local partners; and all across the globe, destinations and suppliers are optimizing their public health protocols and awareness campaigns. The sum of these actions is even greater than their parts, and together we will persevere and come out stronger than ever before.

Full Report: Travel Intentions Pulse Survey from MMGY Travel Intelligence 

Automation and the Future of Revenue Optimization

In addition to being more collaborative, the revenue team of the future will be more data-driven, with analytics being an increasingly crucial skillset. Of course, more data doesn’t automatically mean better data — but it can with the help of the tools that automate growing numbers of revenue functions. “Leveraging big data and automation and machine learning and AI is the future for all of us,” said Alex Cisneros, senior vice president of revenue generation for Red Roof Inn. “We need to invest in resources and technologies and make sure that we’re partnering with the right company.”

For Dave Roberts, a lecturer at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and formerly senior vice president of revenue strategy and solutions for Marriott International, automation isn’t about replacing revenue professionals. “The revenue management system of the future will not be this data dump of information and all these different dashboards,” he said. “The revenue management system of the future will make the life of a revenue manager much easier. It’ll automate a lot of stuff that they’re doing today, but it’ll help them make the decisions that they have to make so it’s seamless.”

Ten to 20 years ago, revenue optimization was an early adopter of data and machine learning, according to Cross, CEO of Revenue Analytics, “but it was always billed as, ‘Oh, this is decision support. We still need you, smart person, to make the decision.’ But today, when algorithms are capable of doing things like driving cars, why couldn’t they price the hotel?

“There’s an opportunity for the field of revenue management to say: Let’s automate things like pricing and inventory,” Cross said. “The machines are good at that, so let them do it, and let’s use people for what they’re good at, which is being creative and imaginative and coming up with new strategies that haven’t been seen before.”

Excerpted from The New Revenue Team, a new white paper available from HSMAI and Revenue Analytics. For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Recovery Resources page.

HSMAI Customer Insight: Trending into the Holiday Season | Google

What a year. As 2020 comes to a close, and the US is seeing an alarming resurgence in COVID cases nationwide, we are seeing that some behaviors may be sticking around longer than previously anticipated. As we look towards recent search trends, here are the ones that remain top of mind:

Travel This Holiday & The Preference for the Road

Heading into the holiday season, many consumers are eager to get home for the holiday or to get away. 2 in 5 Americans were planning to take a trip that involved an overnight stay this holiday season (40%), including 10% who had already booked a trip in November and 30% who said that they were very/somewhat likely to do so soon[1]. Early reports from the TSA are showing that nearly 2 million people passed through airports this past Friday & Saturday, despite a record number of new cases and CDC recommendations not to travel. For many though, driving to their destinations remains the preferred option. 76% of consumers willing to travel this year indicated earlier this fall that traveling by personal car is their first choice (76%), followed by rental car (29%)[2]. We see this reflected still in recent search behavior- searches for “along my route” have grown by over 1,000% YoY[3], and searches for “gas station near me now” have grown by over 80% YoY[4]. Even searches for “electric vehicle charging” have grown over 300% YoY (top searches include “electric vehicle charging points”).[5]

Meet Me Outdoors

Whether in a new destination, or staying local, consumers continue to be seeking socially distant outdoor options for socializing and entertaining. Searches for “near me with outdoor seating” have grown by over 900% YoY[6], and searches for “patio heater” have grown by over 600% YoY (top searches include: “pyramid patio heater”, “Infrared patio heater”, and “table top patio heater”).[7] We even see that searches for “best outdoor” have grown by over 100% YoY, which includes searches for “best outdoor tv”, “best outdoor camera”, best “outdoor solar lights”, and “best outdoor basketball shoes”,[8] highlighting the importance that outdoor options and availability will continue to play in the coming months.

Super Parenting

Families have seen their fair share of difficulties during this past year, and parents are seeking ways to keep their families safe and together. Searches for “masks for kids” have grown over 600% YoY[9], indicating that safety and caution are still priorities. Entertainment searches are also on the rise, as searches for “family movies on___” and “jigsaw puzzles” have grown by over 100% YoY respectively[10]. As school openings and distance learning continue to find the right balance, searches for “___ of the day for kids” has grown by over 100% as well (top searches include: “riddle of the day for kids”, “thought of the day for kids with meaning”)[11]

Key Takeaways

The trends that have emerged this past year will continue to evolve, as regions continue grappling with the resurgence in COVID cases nationwide, impacting when and how consumers travel. For marketers, continue to stay on top of consumer demand, and understand the new needs and priorities of consumers. Whether for the road, the outdoors, or for families, find the best ways to accommodate for them and identify ways to pivot. Consumers willing to travel during this time have demonstrated both caution and agility. Make sure you meet and support them where they are at this moment.   

[1] Google/IPSOS, Omnibus, November 2-3, 2020, US adults 18 & older, N=1,005
[2] Google/Storyline strategies, Travelers & Covid-19, September 2020, US recent travel bookers who research travel online, n=1500
[3] Google Data, Global English, Aug 26, 2020 – Oct 24, 2020 vs Aug 26, 2019 – Oct 24, 2019
[4] Google Data, Global English, Aug 26, 2020 – Oct 24, 2020 vs Aug 26, 2019 – Oct 24, 2019
[5] Google Data, Global English, Aug 26, 2020 – Oct 24, 2020 vs Aug 26, 2019 – Oct 24, 2019
[6] Google Data, Global English, Aug 26, 2020 – Oct 24, 2020 vs Aug 26, 2019 – Oct 24, 2019
[7] Google Data, Global English, Aug 26, 2020 – Oct 24, 2020 vs Aug 26, 2019 – Oct 24, 2019
[8] Google Data, Global English, Aug 26, 2020 – Oct 24, 2020 vs Aug 26, 2019 – Oct 24, 2019
[9] Google Data, Global English, Aug 26, 2020 – Oct 24, 2020 vs Aug 26, 2019 – Oct 24, 2019
[10] Google Data, Global English, Aug 26, 2020 – Oct 24, 2020 vs Aug 26, 2019 – Oct 24, 2019
[11] Google Data, Global English, Aug 26, 2020 – Oct 24, 2020 vs Aug 26, 2019 – Oct 24, 2019

HSMAI Customer Insight: Top U.S. Thanksgiving destinations by hotel occupancy | Amadeus

Based on hotel bookings for the week of November 22-28, Amadeus sees potential improvement in Thanksgiving holiday forward-looking occupancy compared to Labor Day. As Americans approach what is traditionally the busiest travel day of the year – the day before Thanksgiving – many people want to know if it will maintain its status, albeit under very different circumstances as COVID-19 cases continue to rise again. Amadeus, with its unique ability to track forward-looking occupancy in major markets around the world, is seeing a positive trend in hotel bookings the week of U.S. Thanksgiving. While overall occupancy remains below 2019, there are many areas showing higher occupancy levels one week out, indicating the 0-7 day booking window has increased slightly.

Key insights:

Top Thanksgiving destinations with over 50% hotel occupancy are (see Figure 1):

  • Moab, UT
  • Sedona, AZ
  • Key West, FL
  • George, UT
  • Sierra Vista, AZ
  • McAllen, TX
  • Vail, CO
  • Prescott, AZ
  • Brownville, TX
  • Santa Barbara, CA

Destinations in national park hot spots continue to be popular with Moab, UT, and Sedona, AZ, at the top of the list and nearing 80% occupancy, both with access to parks known for the red rock formations – Arches National Park and Red Rock State Park, respectively.

Figure 1: Top US markets by occupancy and weeks the bookings were made for the week of Thanksgiving

Booking windows are lengthening, but last-minute travel remains popular (see Figure 2):

According to Katie Moro, Vice President, Data Partnerships, Hospitality, Amadeus, “For the summer holidays of Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day, we saw a steady occupancy build-up from weeks 3 to 2 to 1, with Labor Day at a final occupancy of 41%.

“For Thanksgiving, occupancy levels are trending higher compared to the summer holidays, and we are encouraged by seeing a number of markets with occupancy above 50% and in some cases nearing 80%.”

Figure 2: Booked hotel occupancy according to booking window.

Travelers are escaping the big cities

Where are these people coming from? Travelers who have booked trips with a hotel stay appear to be taking a break from big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas and Chicago, for destinations with wide, open spaces. Top cities with travelers getting away with a hotel stay for Thanksgiving are:

  • New York – Northern New Jersey – Long Island, NY-NJ-PA, US
  • Los Angeles – Long Beach – Santa Ana, CA, US
  • Atlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta, GA, US
  • Dallas – Fort Worth – Arlington, TX, US
  • Chicago – Naperville – Joilet, IL-IN-WI, US
  • Houston – Sugar Land – Baytown, TX, US
  • Washington – Arlington – Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, US
  • Miami – Fort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach, FL, US
  • San Francisco – Oakland – Fremont, CA, US
  • Philadelphia – Camden – Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD, US

For more best practices on leveraging data to build an effective marketing strategy, please visit our Planning for Hospitality Recovery resource center.