Economist Insights from the HSMAI Revenue and Ownership Executive Roundtable

Last week, economist Aran Ryan joined the HSMAI Revenue and Ownership Executive Roundtable discussions to offer insights on the state of the economy, travel, and current risks.  

Economy 

Despite prevailing fears, the economic outlook isn’t as dire as some might believe. The economy is indeed decelerating this year and is expected to continue on this path into the next year. However, this slowdown is not alarming. A resilient labor market and cooling inflation are key factors supporting consumer spending, even as many lower-income households might feel the pinch. 

Travel 

In the travel sector, lower-tier hotels are experiencing a softening in demand. Nonetheless, leisure travel continues to benefit from a favorable tailwind as consumer budgets show capacity. Business travel is on a positive trajectory, with group travel trends rebuilding steadily. Notably, international inbound travel is experiencing strong gains. 

Risks 

The global economic landscape is not without its risks. Significant geopolitical tensions, including those in the Middle East, Taiwan, and the ongoing Russia-NATO dynamics, pose considerable uncertainties. The baseline economic outlook carries a 45% probability, suggesting a balanced perspective between potential upsides and downsides. Alternatives to this baseline scenario include both stronger outcomes, such as a scenario where inflation is fully controlled, and weaker outcomes, like prolonged high interest rates or escalations in the Middle East conflict. 

HSMAI hosts this unique by-invitation only forum annually forhospitality executives. If you are interested in being invited next year, please emailBob Gilbert.     

How Are You Engaging Your Sales Team?

Katie Davin, CHBA, Associate Professor, Johnson & Wales University College of Hospitality Management 

Companies with high levels of employee engagement have higher productivity and profitability and lower turnover and absenteeism, according to Gallup research. I asked the Sales Advisory Board how they keep their teams engaged. 

Hands-on learning 

The HSMAI Foundation’s special report on talent identified hands-on learning as a way to engage staff. The Board agreed and described examples.  

One SAB member described the practice of identifying Subject Matter Experts and having those experts teach classes to the team. This method can work across departments, too; for example,  the revenue strategist teaches strategy to the sales team. Another approach is to have someone who doesn’t know something teach a class, which compels that person to learn about the topic so that they can teach it. Another SAB member keeps it simple by rotating the leaders of the weekly sales meeting, providing each team member a regular opportunity for leadership. 

Several sales leaders described opportunities for staff to opt into leadership development programs. One in particular encourages participants to complete projects. When the director needs projects done, she sends details out to the people in the development program. They can choose a project, which helps them learn and demonstrates commitment and growth.  

Collecting feedback 

In his article “How to boost your team’s engagement,” Michael Papay said that collecting input from employees resulted in increased engagement and trust and an improved company culture. Several SAB members provided examples of successes with collecting feedback, adding that analysis and implementation of the results is as important as collecting the information. One member’s company forms focus groups based on employee survey results, and each focus group develops an action plan that the company must execute. Progress is checked quarterly, with mini-surveys – five questions that can be easily and quickly answered on the respondent’s phone. The board agreed that if employees have a stake in the solution, they will embrace it and want it to work. 

Training  

Training is essential for employee engagement, particularly for companies or groups going through change. However, “one-and-done” training is not particularly effective. Training cannot be a “to-do” list item to be checked off; spaced repetition to reinforce training is necessary. 

Self-assessment of skill levels can identify training needs. In order to truly identify such needs, leaders must encourage employees to be vulnerable and say, “I don’t know.” That sentence can be scary to say at work, but several SAB members explained that their companies have built a culture that supports such expression, even applauding colleagues who say “I don’t know” in meetings.  

Several sales leaders stressed the importance of team members’ willingness to learn. Some leaders take this philosophy to the hiring process, identifying and selecting applicants who express an interest in learning. 

Defining engagement 

Engagement does not mean all work, all the time. Engagement on the job can be improved by making sure that people have time away from it. Leaders must communicate that time off is essential; they should encourage their teams to use their vacation time, and model this behavior by taking vacations themselves.  

How workers define and demonstrate engagement can vary by generation. An SAB member summarized the philosophy of younger workers, that they “work to live, not live to work.” They can get their work done during work hours, then they leave work and have a life. They may not be interested in after-hours team-building activities, because their time outside of work is really their time. To older generations, that might look like disengagement, when in reality those employees are fully engaged when they are at work. 

Further reading: 

HSMAI Foundation (2024). HSMAI Foundation Special Report: The State of Hotel Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization Talent 2023-2024 

Papay, M. (2021). How To Boost Your Team’s Engagement: Employee voice, a critical element of organizational success. HCM Sales, Marketing & Alliance Excellence, 20(2), 38–39. 

HSMAI Celebrates Revenue Optimization and Marketing Leaders at 2024 Commercial Strategy Conference

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

The HSMAI Commercial Strategy Conference 2024 was an incredible event, focusing on the convergence and integration of various commercial disciplines in the hospitality industry. The sold-out crowd was shown a comprehensive view of commercial strategy in hotels, reflecting the industry’s shift towards more integrated approaches to marketing, sales, revenue management, and distribution. We’ll have more articles in the coming weeks highlighting the content and sharing best practices from the conference.  

Right now, however, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite moments of the conference celebrating the individuals honored for their contributions to revenue optimization and marketing. Here is a little bit about this year’s honorees.  

Revenue Optimization Awards 

Dr. Kelly McGuire, Vanguard Award Recipient  

Dr. McGuire, managing principal of hospitality at ZS Associates, received the prestigious Vanguard Award for Achievement in Revenue Optimization. Her work includes helping global hospitality clients improve their commercial strategy and operations, utilizing data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Kelly’s extensive background includes senior roles at MGM Resorts International and authorship of two books on analytics in hospitality. She serves on HSMAI’s Americas Board of Directors and holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University. 

Scott Dahl, Revenue Optimization Professional of the Year, Corporate 

Dahl, senior vice president of sales, marketing, and revenue management at Wurzak Hotel Group, was honored as the corporate Revenue Optimization Professional of the Year. With 30 years in the hospitality industry, Scott has held significant positions at various esteemed organizations and has made notable contributions to the field of revenue management. 

Taylor Baca, CRME, CHDM, Revenue Optimization Professional of the Year, Single/Multi-Unit 

Taylor Baca, corporate director of revenue management at Balboa Bay Resort & Club, received the award for single/multi-unit Revenue Optimization Professional of the Year. Known for driving exceptional revenue growth and optimizing hotel performance, Taylor has a comprehensive background in revenue management and is an active member of the HSMAI Rising Leader Council. 

Marketing Awards 

Janelle Hoffman, Marketing Educator of the Year 

Professor Hoffman of Scottsdale Community College was awarded the Marketing Educator of the Year. With over 26 years of academic expertise and prior industry experience in hotel sales and marketing, Janelle has significantly contributed to educating future hospitality professionals. 

Bob Everin, Marketing Professional of the Year, Corporate 

Everin, senior director of media for Marriott Digital Services, was recognized as the corporate Marketing Professional of the Year. With a 35-year career at Marriott, Bob has been instrumental in establishing the company’s digital marketing capabilities and currently drives the strategic vision for Marriott’s media practice. 

Holly King, Marketing Professional of the Year, Single/Multi-Unit 

King, area director of marketing for White Lodging, received the award for single/multi-unit Marketing Professional of the Year. Holly leads a team responsible for the digital and field marketing performance of 37 hotels and restaurants in Austin, Texas, and has a rich background in boutique and franchise hospitality marketing. 

I was truly honored to present this year’s awards to such a group of distinguished leaders who embody the commercial excellence HSMAI strives to recognize. It is a testament to their exceptional skills and dedication that the honorees are held in such high esteem by their fellow professionals. Congrats again!  

Where Hotel Sales and Technology Meet

HSMAI Global’s new Certified Hotel Sales Leader (CHSL) certification is designed to recognize the expertise of hotel sales leaders, emphasizing the most up-to-date sales and commercial principles, practices, and strategies.

Here we share excerpts from Chapter 1 of The Hotel Sales Playbook: Winning Strategies for Success.

Chapter 1: Where Hotel Sales and Technology Meet

By HSMAI’s Americas Sales Advisory Board

Technology and Leading Sales Today

Technology has radically altered selling processes, creating new opportunities for sales teams to become more efficient and data-driven, and to deliver highly personalized experiences throughout the customer journey.

Technology has made some of the transactional aspects of sales easier, making touchpoints with customers even more important. Robust customer relationship management (CRM) systems have become essential for managing leads, tracking customer interactions, and analyzing sales performance data to optimize processes. A successful sales leader will:

  • Fully understand the capabilities of the sales intelligence and CRM tools to which their team has access, especially when it comes to lead scoring, sales forecasting, and customer data and analytics.
  • Ensure that their team leverages the hotel’s CRM systems to manage leads and customer interactions, track sales performance metrics, and optimize sales processes.

Made possible by developments in technology, hotel sales, marketing, and revenue management functions have become more integrated. Digital marketing tactics like content marketing, email campaigns, and paid advertising directly support sales pipelines. And advanced revenue management systems allow revenue teams, of which sales is a member, to dynamically manage pricing and inventory in response to real-time market conditions. This integration requires sellers to understand the fundamentals of both revenue management and marketing to make sure the right offer is made to the right customer at the right time. A successful sales leader will:

  • Appreciate the components of, and colleagues who specialize in, digital marketing and revenue management. Understand how they influence the discipline of sales, and vice versa.
  • Ensure that their team knows how and when to leverage which marketing tools — from content marketing to email campaigns, paid advertising, and more — to support sales efforts (see Chapter 10 on Digital Marketing Best Practices & Measurement).
  • Ensure that their teams master the fundamentals of revenue management and can identify the most impactful partnership opportunities for sales and revenue management, including market segmentation, pricing, forecasting, and performance measurement (See Chapter 11, A Sales Leader’s Guide to Revenue Management).

Sales teams now have access to richer data analytics tools, enabling them to better understand customer behavior, communication and buying preferences, and purchasing patterns, allowing for more personalized and targeted sales efforts. These data analytics tools are also used to measure success metrics and make more informed decisions. A successful sales leader will:

  • Recognize the tremendous value — and role — of data for the sales organization and understand how to leverage data to become a more effective commercial strategist.
  • Build the capabilities of their sellers to use data to be more strategic and targeted in their prospecting and customer engagement efforts.

Additional technological innovations impacting sales today — and how successful sales leaders can lean into them — include:

  • Digital Sales Channels: Train and coach sellers to adapt their traditional face-to-face sales interactions to virtual selling environments and digital channels like email, social media, and video conferencing. See Chapter 3 (Effective Communication and Presentation Skills for Sales Leaders).
  • Social Media: Understand the role of social media in hotel sales and leverage social platforms like LinkedIn for your (and your team members’) personal branding, networking, and directly engaging prospects. See Chapter 3 on Effective Communication and Presentation Skills for Sales Leaders (“Your Professional Image and Personal Brand” section) and Chapter 10 on Digital Marketing Best Practices & Measurement. Also, see the section on “Social Selling” later in this chapter.
  • Automation and AI: Investigate opportunities for automation and AI to streamline repetitive sales tasks, enhance lead scoring and personalization efforts, and answer customer queries. See Chapter 13 on Artificial Intelligence and Hotel Sales.

HSMAI members who attain the CHSL certification will gain professional recognition, career advancement opportunities, and the ability to contribute more effectively to their organizations’ success. For more information, visit  hsmaiacademy.org/certification-hotel-sales-leader or contact Kathy Tindell at kathy.tindell@hsmai.org.

Leadership Essentials from the Hotel Sales Playbook

HSMAI Global recently launched itsCertified Hotel Sales Leader(CHSL) certification. This new program is designed to recognize the expertise of hotel sales leaders, emphasizing the most up-to-date sales and commercial principles, practices, and strategies.  

The CHSL certification is tailored for hospitality sales leaders who are proficient in leading high-performing teams, demonstrating overall commercial acumen, applying best practices in hotel sales to drive revenue growth, and more.   

Approved applicants willreceive a digital copy of the study guide,The Hotel Sales Playbook: Winning Strategies for Success,andcomplete an online examination covering essential functions of hospitality sales. Here we share excerpts from Chapter 2: Leadership Essentials, contributed by Ciara Feely and Amy Infante. 

Chapter 2: Leadership Essentials 

Cultivating Ownership Mentality 

At the heart of exceptional leadership lies the ability to instill an ownership mentality within the sales team. Encouraging team members to take ownership of their responsibilities fosters a sense of accountability and pride in their work. By viewing themselves as stakeholders in the organization’s success, sales professionals become more invested in achieving goals and delivering exceptional results. 

Start by building your and your team’s business acumen. As silos in hotel organizations continue to erode, and as sales professionals engage at a higher level with owners, asset managers, general 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. 

  • Sharpen the team’s understanding of the acronyms, jargon, and terminology used in and around the business of hotels. It will help strengthen their skills and build their reputations as knowledgeable team members. This book’s Glossary is a great place to start. It includes more than 300 terms every hotel sales professional needs to know to better communicate with their GMs, asset managers, owners, and colleagues in other commercial disciplines. 
  • Provide education and coaching to help the team understand how financial statements (P&Ls, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and more) are used to make business decisions. HSMAI’s Certified in Hospitality Business Acumen (CHBA) program is a highly effective online course on this topic. 

 

Another best practice for every sales team — whether reporting directly to the owner/operator, a management company, or a brand/chain — is to devote time to the exercise of putting themselves in the owners’ shoes. Consider facilitating a monthly or quarterly “ownership mentality” discussion with your team to talk about questions like: 

  • What keeps our stakeholders up at night? 
  • What risks are they taking to pay for our team and resources to support us? 
  • What expectations do they have for our team? 
  • Why are those expectations set that way? 
  • Why might sales not be their biggest priority? 
  • Why and when does the owner’s attention focus on sales? 
  • What is the owner’s level of sales acumen and why does that matter to us? 
  • Why is accurate, timely, consistent, and clear reporting so critical? 

 

The most effective way to cultivate an ownership mentality is to be transparent with the hotel’s goals, the “why” that is the root of those goals, and how the revenue and management teams agree the sales team can help reach those goals. Diving into these topics and making them a part of the blueprint for how a team conducts business can be a game-changer in the team’s willingness and ability to embrace a stronger ownership mentality. 

In Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek shares, “Passion alone can’t cut it. For passion to survive it needs structure. A why without how has little probability of success.” 

A Powerful Monthly Sales Meeting Agenda1 

Use this sample agenda as part of your strategy to build a culture of intentional communication and innovative collaboration. 

 

The purpose of time limits on the agenda is to ensure that there is enough time to resolve significant issues, go beyond simple updates, and enhance a culture of solving challenges together as a team. Adjust the recommended time limits for the size of your team, frequency of meetings, and other unique needs. 

 

Personal & Professional Celebrations (5 minutes) 

Each team member shares one personal and one professional update they want to celebrate. This builds comradery among the team and starts the meeting focused on a positive note no matter the noise, pressure, or stress occurring around the business. 

 

Scorecard Review (5 minutes) 

Review the team’s high-level scorecard of key performance indicators (KPIs).2 Quickly review results in a fact-based manner. Any underperforming KPIs can be discussed more in depth later in the meeting. 

 

Key Strategy Review (5 minutes) 

Review the 3-5 core strategies for the hotel and sales team and how they intersect with the entire organization. This is the opportunity to drive the “why” behind the strategy, as well as reiterate everyone’s role in the strategy. 

 

Customer and Employee Updates (5 minutes) 

Team members share updates on customers and/or employees. These updates will be diverse — from announcements of departures and promotions to new hires, customer moves, and customer sentiment alerts. 

 

Last Meeting’s To-Do List Review (5 minutes) 

Every meeting produces a series of next steps and to-dos. It is important that these are documented and then addressed in the following meeting to ensure tasks stay on track and there is accountability within the team. 

 

Issues Discussions (35 minutes) 

Designed to resolve issues, this is the longest portion of the meeting. When a team is moving quickly, the root cause of issues often becomes clouded. The issues discussion is for solving challenges and focusing on what the team in the room can control, so that the issues do not continue to bubble back to the surface. 

 

Conclusion (5 minutes) 

Recap the to-dos that came out of the meeting, review any messages that need to go out to other departments or missing team members, and rate the meeting allowing team members to give feedback on the quality of the meeting and ways to improve. 

HSMAI members who attain the CHSL certification will gain professional recognition, career advancement opportunities, and the ability to contribute more effectively to their organizations’ success. For more information, visithsmaiacademy.org/certification-hotel-sales-leaderor contact Kathy Tindell atkathy.tindell@hsmai.org.  

HSMAI Top 25 Profile: Barbara Karasek

HSMAI honored the 2023 Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, Revenue Optimization and Distribution — recognizing leaders from hospitality, travel, and tourism organizations for their accomplishments. Barbara Karasek, CEO, Paradise Advertising and Marketing, Inc., is one of these honorees.

Purpose-driven with global influences, Barbara lived in eight countries and traveled to more than 20 countries while leading global marketing, entertainment, licensing, and operations for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, PGA TOUR, NASCAR, USOPC, and a prominent hip-hop clothing manufacturer. She has negotiated nearly $500 million in global marketing and partnership contracts. She graduated from Furman University where she played Division I volleyball, served as Team Captain, and holds many records and honors. She earned an M.A. from the University of South Florida and is Six Sigma Certified and completed Harvard Business School Strategic Marketing Management courses.

 Q&A with Barbara Karasek

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Dear younger self,

I want to share some advice with you that I wish someone had reinforced more when I was in your shoes. First and foremost, always remember the importance of purpose. Find what truly drives you and fuels your passion. When you align your work with a sense of purpose, it becomes more than just a job – it becomes a calling.

Stewardship is another key aspect to focus on. As you navigate through your career, remember that leadership is not just about personal success, but also about the responsibility to positively impact others and the world around you. Use your position to create meaningful change and contribute to the greater good.

Never compromise on your core values. In times of uncertainty or when faced with difficult decisions, let your values be your guiding light. Stay true to who you are and what you believe in, even if it means taking the road less traveled.

Read more about Barabara Karasek and all the 2023 Top 25 honorees in the full report.

The State of the Hospitality Student Pipeline: Insights from Industry Experts

In a recent series of interviews organized by the HSMAI Foundation and led by Lori Kiel, HSMAI Foundation Chair, HSMAI leaders and academic professionals discussed the hospitality student pipeline. The goal, aligned with the HSMAI Foundation mission, was to explore how the industry can better support academia to attract, engage, and develop the next generation of hospitality professionals. Key participants included Donna Quadri-Felitti, PhD, Director and Associate Professor, School of Hospitality Management at Penn State, and Kate Walsh, Dean and E. M. Statler Professor at School of Hotel Administration, Cornell College of Business 

Here are the main points from these enlightening discussions. 

Do Hospitality Programs Have an Enrollment Problem? 

The answer, it seems, depends on who you ask. Donna Quadri-Felitti highlighted several challenges impacting enrollment in hospitality programs: 

  1. Competition from Other Fields: Jobs in tech and real estate, among others, attract students who might otherwise consider hospitality.
  2. Misconceptions About Pay and Work-Life Balance: Many students hold misconceptions about the financial viability and lifestyle associated with hospitality careers.
  3. Changes in Industry Structure: Many sought-after employers no longer require staff to be on-property, altering the traditional career trajectory expectations.

Donna emphasized that the industry’s reputation can be revitalized by showcasing its complexity and the diverse skill sets required to manage significant assets, rather than reducing it to a “people business” alone. 

Kate Walsh, on the other hand, provided a contrasting perspective from Cornell. Walsh acknowledged that some schools are facing declining enrollment, but Cornell has been fortunate to have record applications. She attributed this success to their comprehensive program that spans operations, real estate, private equity, and technology.  

Industry’s Role in Driving Enrollment and Improving Reputation 

Quadri-Felitti suggested that the industry needs to visually and narratively shift away from traditional images, like the front desk, and begin to highlight the dynamic and multifaceted nature of hospitality. She stressed the importance of communicating the broad spectrum of skills necessary in the industry to parents and guidance counselors, making it clear that hospitality is much more than just working with people. 

Kate echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the need for industry engagement in classrooms, offering internships, and outlining explicit career pathways, including opportunities in corporate roles. She noted that competitive salaries and the chance to work with cutting-edge technology (e.g., machine learning, AI) are crucial in attracting students. 

Effective Models and Strategies 

Both academics agreed that some companies and schools are successfully navigating these challenges. Large, multinational brands often have the resources to create scalable initiatives and clear career paths, while smaller, independent hotels may lag. 

Quadri-Felitti highlighted the importance of real-time experience and faculty externships to keep curriculum relevant. She encouraged the industry to support faculty in spending time in the field to stay updated with current practices. Additionally, she called for the industry to help develop lesson plans and modules, providing comprehensive curriculum support to bridge the gap between academia and industry needs. 

Walsh noted that at Cornell, they have great data analytics around who top employers are, trends on salary, bonus, how long they stay for first and second jobs which helps guide students towards fulfilling career paths. 

Addressing the Talent Gap in Commercial Roles 

Both academics addressed the lack of interest in marketing, sales, and revenue management roles among students. Walsh suggested leveraging data and AI to make these roles more appealing. She recommended that industry leaders articulate their needs clearly and collaborate with academic institutions to integrate real-world applications into the curriculum. Sharing personal career journeys and practical challenges with students can also make these roles more relatable and attractive. 

Quadri-Felitti stressed the need to stop glamorizing roles in real estate and finance, highlighting the significant impact commercial professionals can have on business success. 

The interviews underscored the critical need for stronger collaboration between academia and the hospitality industry. By providing robust real-world experiences, reshaping the narrative around hospitality careers, and supporting faculty development, HSMAI members can attract and retain top talent. As Quadri-Felitti fittingly summarized, “We need to teach people how to learn,” emphasizing the importance of fostering lifelong learning and adaptability in the fast-moving world of hospitality. 

These insights provide a roadmap for how the hospitality industry can better support academia and, in turn, secure a bridge to our brightest future of talent in hospitality commercial functions. 

HSMAI Top 25 Profile: Nick Breedlove

HSMAI honored the2023 Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, Revenue Optimization and Distribution— recognizing leaders from hospitality, travel, and tourism organizations for their accomplishments. Nick Breedlove Executive Director, Jackson County NC Tourism Development Authority, is one of these honorees.  

Nick Breedlove, a distinguished leader in tourism, has significantly impacted the industry with his innovative strategies and expertise. Once the youngest elected Mayor in North Carolina, he later became the Executive Director of the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority in 2015. Under his leadership, the destination thrived, generating nearly $500 million annually in visitor spending. He has been honored with the ‘Tourism Office of the Year’ award by the Southeast Tourism Society and a national ‘Rising Star’ award in Tourism Research.  

Nick holds multiple certifications, including Travel Marketing Professional and Certified Destination Management Executive. He is also a certified expert in Crisis Management, Communications, and Recovery Strategy for DMOs. His commitment to diversity and inclusion is evident in his achievement as the first graduate to receive the Certified Diversity Travel Professional credential from Travel Unity. 

An influential thought leader, Nick is an alumnus of the N.C. Rural Center’s Economic Development Institute and serves on several boards, including the Blue Ridge Parkway Association and Western Carolina University’s Hospitality and Tourism program.  

WHAT INSPIRED THIS NOMINATION? “Nick’s innovative strategies and expertise have significantly impacted the tourism industry, making him a distinguished leader in the field.”  

Q&A WITH NICK BREEDLOVE  

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

 I would advise my younger self to embrace change and the unexpected, both in my personal and professional life. Recent years have underscored the importance of adaptability; resilience is rooted in accepting that change is not just inevitable, but also an opportunity for growth. It’s crucial to build a network of individuals who complement your strengths and weaknesses, forming an environment where everyone grows stronger together. Lastly – never stop learning!  

What keeps you inspired?  

The peers I have in the industry are a constant source of inspiration. Every day, I am astounded by the creativity and ingenuity of my colleagues, as well as their eagerness to assist and share knowledge collaboratively. 

Nominations will open in mid July for the 2024 HSMAI Top 25! 

Full Report of the Top 25

Leadership Essentials from the Hotel Sales Playbook

HSMAI Global recently launched itsCertified Hotel Sales Leader(CHSL) certification. This new program is designed to recognize the expertise of hotel sales leaders, emphasizing the most up-to-date sales and commercial principles, practices, and strategies.  

The CHSL certification is tailored for hospitality sales leaders who are proficient in leading high-performing teams, demonstrating overall commercial acumen, applying best practices in hotel sales to drive revenue growth, and more.   

Approved applicants willreceive a digital copy of the study guide,The Hotel Sales Playbook: Winning Strategies for Success,andcomplete an online examination covering essential functions of hospitality sales. Here we share excerpts from Chapter 2: Leadership Essentials, contributed by Ciara Feely and Amy Infante. 

Chapter 2: Leadership Essentials 

Cultivating Ownership Mentality 

At the heart of exceptional leadership lies the ability to instill an ownership mentality within the sales team. Encouraging team members to take ownership of their responsibilities fosters a sense of accountability and pride in their work. By viewing themselves as stakeholders in the organization’s success, sales professionals become more invested in achieving goals and delivering exceptional results. 

Start by building your and your team’s business acumen. As silos in hotel organizations continue to erode, and as sales professionals engage at a higher level with owners, asset managers, general 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. 

  • Sharpen the team’s understanding of the acronyms, jargon, and terminology used in and around the business of hotels. It will help strengthen their skills and build their reputations as knowledgeable team members. This book’s Glossary is a great place to start. It includes more than 300 terms every hotel sales professional needs to know to better communicate with their GMs, asset managers, owners, and colleagues in other commercial disciplines. 
  • Provide education and coaching to help the team understand how financial statements (P&Ls, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and more) are used to make business decisions. HSMAI’s Certified in Hospitality Business Acumen (CHBA) program is a highly effective online course on this topic. 

Another best practice for every sales team — whether reporting directly to the owner/operator, a management company, or a brand/chain — is to devote time to the exercise of putting themselves in the owners’ shoes. Consider facilitating a monthly or quarterly “ownership mentality” discussion with your team to talk about questions like: 

  • What keeps our stakeholders up at night? 
  • What risks are they taking to pay for our team and resources to support us? 
  • What expectations do they have for our team? 
  • Why are those expectations set that way? 
  • Why might sales not be their biggest priority? 
  • Why and when does the owner’s attention focus on sales? 
  • What is the owner’s level of sales acumen and why does that matter to us? 
  • Why is accurate, timely, consistent, and clear reporting so critical? 

The most effective way to cultivate an ownership mentality is to be transparent with the hotel’s goals, the “why” that is the root of those goals, and how the revenue and management teams agree the sales team can help reach those goals. Diving into these topics and making them a part of the blueprint for how a team conducts business can be a game-changer in the team’s willingness and ability to embrace a stronger ownership mentality. 

In Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek shares, “Passion alone can’t cut it. For passion to survive it needs structure. A why without how has little probability of success.” 

A Powerful Monthly Sales Meeting Agenda1 

Use this sample agenda as part of your strategy to build a culture of intentional communication and innovative collaboration. 

The purpose of time limits on the agenda is to ensure that there is enough time to resolve significant issues, go beyond simple updates, and enhance a culture of solving challenges together as a team. Adjust the recommended time limits for the size of your team, frequency of meetings, and other unique needs. 

Personal & Professional Celebrations (5 minutes) 

Each team member shares one personal and one professional update they want to celebrate. This builds comradery among the team and starts the meeting focused on a positive note no matter the noise, pressure, or stress occurring around the business. 

Scorecard Review (5 minutes) 

Review the team’s high-level scorecard of key performance indicators (KPIs).2 Quickly review results in a fact-based manner. Any underperforming KPIs can be discussed more in depth later in the meeting. 

Key Strategy Review (5 minutes) 

Review the 3-5 core strategies for the hotel and sales team and how they intersect with the entire organization. This is the opportunity to drive the “why” behind the strategy, as well as reiterate everyone’s role in the strategy. 

Customer and Employee Updates (5 minutes) 

Team members share updates on customers and/or employees. These updates will be diverse — from announcements of departures and promotions to new hires, customer moves, and customer sentiment alerts. 

Last Meeting’s To-Do List Review (5 minutes) 

Every meeting produces a series of next steps and to-dos. It is important that these are documented and then addressed in the following meeting to ensure tasks stay on track and there is accountability within the team. 

Issues Discussions (35 minutes) 

Designed to resolve issues, this is the longest portion of the meeting. When a team is moving quickly, the root cause of issues often becomes clouded. The issues discussion is for solving challenges and focusing on what the team in the room can control, so that the issues do not continue to bubble back to the surface. 

Conclusion (5 minutes) 

Recap the to-dos that came out of the meeting, review any messages that need to go out to other departments or missing team members, and rate the meeting allowing team members to give feedback on the quality of the meeting and ways to improve. 

HSMAI members who attain the CHSL certification will gain professional recognition, career advancement opportunities, and the ability to contribute more effectively to their organizations’ success. For more information, visithsmaiacademy.org/certification-hotel-sales-leaderor contact Kathy Tindell atkathy.tindell@hsmai.org.  

HSMAI Top 25 Profile: Anja Fiedler

HSMAI honored the2023 Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, Revenue Optimization and Distribution— recognizing leaders from hospitality, travel, and tourism organizations for their accomplishments. Anja Fiedler, Executive Director, Revenue Management Integration, Fairmont Hotels & Resort, is one of these honorees.  

 Anja has an extensive hospitality career spanning over two decades, managing and supporting properties ranging from 75 to 1048 rooms, Anja Fiedler has been a driving force in Revenue Management (RM). Her renowned for her expertise in fostering a robust RM culture within Accor and Fairmont, she has reshaped standards, trained teams, and focused on maximizing resources to propel top-line revenue and profitability, while keeping service delivery and employee impact in line of sight. She serves on the HSMAI Americas RM Advisory board, contributing to finding solutions to current industry challenges, and specifically supporting certification alignment with evolving trends. Anja joined the Accor and Fairmont Corporate office via Swissôtel New York and later Swissôtel Chicago, after working for InterContinental Hotels and Resorts in Berlin and New York City. She completed CRME and CHBA certifications and holds a degree in Hospitality Management from Emil Fischer Staatliche Fachschule Berlin, Germany.  

KEY ACCOMPLISHMENT: Fiedler has been key in orchestrating successful hotel openings and optimizing revenue management and distribution disciplines across Fairmont properties.  

WHAT INSPIRED THIS NOMINATION? “Anja’s dedication to excellence in revenue management and her ability to foster a culture of learning and growth have made her a respected leader in the industry.”  

Q&A WITH ANJA FIEDLER  

What advice would you give to your younger self?  

You will find your passion, it’s a journey. Don’t hesitate to take opportunities to do something you have not done before. Plan time in your day/month or year to focus on learning something new. Follow your curiosity, you may uncover interests you did not know you had. Find time to do the things you enjoy, and all of these little steps along the way will help you find a place in life that you appreciate.  

What keeps you inspired? 

 I enjoy helping others. Ideally teaching someone to help themselves, but also taking away a burden or providing support to someone in need, brainstorming with others for ideas, or mentoring someone to help them find their own solutions. Putting yourself into someone else’s shoes always gives a different perspective and appreciation for others around us 

Nominations will open in mid July for the 2024 HSMAI Top 25!