Celebrating Women’s History Month Perspective

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

As Women’s History Month ends, I am reflecting on the progress we’ve made toward gender inclusivity and the empowerment of female leaders in hospitality. Several years ago, we published a report with Castell, that showed that women held more leadership positions in commercial functions than the hospitality industry as a whole. We can use the upcoming Commercial Strategy Conference (slated for June 24th – 27th, in Charlotte) as a litmus test to these advancements. The conference shows a significant shift from the association’s origins as a male-dominated group—a sign of progress worth celebrating.  

HSMAI is dedicated to fostering an inclusive space where the industry’s female leaders can shine. On International Women’s Day, we spotlighted women leaders on LinkedIn:  

These videos are not just gestures, but affirmations of the crucial roles women play in driving innovation, strategy, and success in our industry. As my colleague recently said, “We have to see it to be it.” The more we can amplify the voices of women, the more people it will inspire.  

HSMAI’s Commercial Strategy Conference, evolving from the synthesis of HSMAI’s Marketing Strategy Conference and HSMAI ROC, captures this commitment to inclusivity. It’s designed to merge insights across commercial disciplines, from marketing to revenue optimization and sales, creating a holistic platform for learning and leadership that reflects the diverse sectors of the industry. The gender balance in the speakers sends a message that the future of hospitality is inclusive. 

Integral to this narrative of progress is the power of mentoring, as highlighted in the “Power of Mentoring” report released by the HSMAI Foundation and Women in Travel THRIVE last year. The findings focused on women in hotel sales, marketing, and revenue management, highlighting the transformative impact mentorship in nurturing the next generation of industry leaders. It explores the barriers and pathways women have in mentoring and career advancement and offers actions to get started. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, I highly recommend it. 

While progress has been made, we’re reminded of the work still ahead. CSC, alongside the Foundation’s report and the recognition of women leaders, underscores our collective commitment to not only acknowledging women’s contributions but actively supporting the advancement of the next generation of women leaders. 

Categories: Marketing
Insight Type: Articles