By Kaitlin Dunn, writer, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
On Oct. 27, in conjunction with Sales Leader Forum, HSMAI hosted two executive roundtables, one for Chief Sales Officers in partnership with ZS and one for Hotel Management Company (HMC) Sales and Marketing Executives in partnership with Knowland.
Participating companies in the CSO roundtable included Accor, Associated Luxury Hotels International (AHLI), IHG, Marriott International, Preferred, Radisson Hotel Group, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, and Sonesta. Participating companies in the HMC Sales and Marketing roundtable included CoralTree Hospitality, First Hospitality Group, Greenwood Hospitality, Kessler Collection, M&R Hotel Management, Makr Hospitality, NCG Group, Pacifica, Parks Hospitality Group, PM Hotel Group, Prism Hotels & Resorts, Regency Hotel Management, and Remington Hotel Corporation.
Participants in each roundtable discussed some of the most pressing issues facing the industry and shared what they are each seeing from their unique vantage points. Overall, participants from both roundtables expressed optimism as they are seeing positive trends and continued opportunity to grow and reinvent. Here are a few key takeaways that were shared in the two roundtables:
ON BUSINESS AND GROUP TRAVEL
- Business travel coming is back in some markets, but business travelers no longer look like traditional business travelers anymore. They are now more casually dressed and are not necessarily booking corporate rates. They also are more likely to be traveling solo.
- International borders are opening and there is huge demand. Everything business related is coming back – corporate business is up, consultants are travelling a lot, and people are coming out of company offices.
- Business travel trends have been positive, with more small-to-midsize businesses travelling and midweek occupancy trending upwards for past several months
- A lot of businesses are opening up to non-employees in their offices again and lifting travel policies. The willingness to open doors is one of the last hurdles to business travel.
- More group business is starting to happen a little further out, and 2022 is looking very strong for group.
- Many traditional group customers have been openly sharing their recent positive experiences with meetings and events.
- There is lots of opportunity for new talent to come into industry and bring fresh new ideas. Strengths of both new hires and existing talents are going to help the industry.
- Many key salespeople didn’t come back because of the lack of defined career path. They felt that they weren’t successful because they were in positions they didn’t belong, which was an injustice.
- It’s now the time to redesign the compensation structure for salespeople in order to continue to retain and reward top talent.
ON RATE AND OCCUPANCY LEVELS
- Revenue leaders have behaved much smarter than in previous downturns. Most didn’t compromise the integrity of rate this time, which has proved to be very beneficial.
- The trend has been that there are small, very defined pockets that are seeing a faster ramp up than the rest of the country.
- Originally, forecasts showed occupancy coming back in 2022/23, followed by rate, but the prediction is now that rate will come back quicker than occupancy.
- Customers are not making rate buys anymore. There are other things more important to them when booking than just the lowest price.
- Many hotels are not seeing high levels of cancellations and rebooking anymore.
ON LEISURE TRAVEL
- Destination markets are seeing leisure travel still doing well on weekdays.
- In the casino industry, revenues are through the roof, because of a pent up demand for entertainment.
- Leisure has been great overall recently, exceeding some initial projections, even if not sustainable long-term.
Brand Chief Sales Officer Participants
Hotel Management Company Chief Sales Officer Roundtable Participants