A KPIs Guide for the Commercial Strategist

The lines continue to blur between commercial disciplines in hospitality, but most organizations struggle with how to adapt to this new environment. Silos still exist between departments for many reasons: 

  • legacy staffing models, 
  • strained resources, 
  • inflexible technology, 
  • insufficient talent development, and 
  • lack of agreement upon the measure that will define their success. 

For hotel companies looking to create organizational structures centered on an overarching commercial strategy, identifying those measures of success — beyond profitability — can be a place to start. 

While metrics are not a strategy, they are essential for setting and monitoring objectives and are a key component of a strong and effective strategy. 

HSMAI’s Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization Advisory Boards have been talking a lot about KPIs — Key Performance Indicators — all while the question “What is success?” continues to elude their disciplines in practice throughout the industry. 

One such conversation was at a breakout session at the 2022 HSMAI ROC in Orlando. Ninety percent of the revenue leaders in attendance declared that RevPAR is not the leading indicator which they consider to measure success. However, there was little consensus about what could/should take its place. 

HSMAI’s KPI workgroup — composed of industry thought-leaders across the commercial disciplines — has concluded that today’s successful leaders focus on total revenue and its relation to profit. This suggests that our “headline KPI” should be TrevPAR or GOPPAR versus RevPAR. 

As one committee member summarized the dilemma, “If you are going to live behind the idea of optimizing total revenue, then RevPAR itself does not serve the commercial leader and with profit being the ultimate outcome, RevPAR cannot be the endgame.”  

So what is a commercial leader to do? 

HSMAI’s cross-discipline KPI workgroup created the resources included in this special report to assist you as you develop and align your commercial strategies, distinguishing who should use what measures and when. 

In this special report you’ll find the KPIs glossary and index: 

  • The 60+ KPIs are broken down into digestible units by assigning disciplines and personas to create increased relevance for all stakeholders, including Commercial Leaders, Directors of Finance, Owners, and General Managers. 
  • The glossary and index are available for HSMAI members to access in an AirTable format, allowing you and your organization to process the KPIs meaningfully and set expectations by discipline. Get your interactive copy at:  https://airtable.com/shrSUrTBdK0WcYTMS. 

As HSMAI’s cross-discipline work focused on commercial strategy continues in 2023, we look forward to going beyond the KPIs themselves and creating models that can be utilized to identify your organization’s maturity in commercial strategy. 

In the meantime, we encourage you to skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. 

HSMAI’s 2022 KPI Workgroup 

  • Co-Chairs 
    • Amy Infante, CEO & Visionary, GitGo
    • Lori Kiel, CHDM, Chief Commercial Officer, Kessler Collection 
  • Richard Black, VP of Sales, Sojern 
  • Denise Chapman, Director of Marketing, Hotel Del Coronado 
  • Steven Gottlieb, Senior Vice President Sales & Revenue Management, Graduate Hotels 
  • Matthew Guglielmetti, Decision Analytics Manager, ZS 
  • James Harris, CRME, VP Business Development, Revenue Analytics 
  • John Jimenez, CHDM, VP of E-commerce, Noble Investment Group 
  • Jonathan Kaplan, Vice President, Americas Sales, IHG Hotels & Resorts 
  • Monika Morrobel, CRME, CHDM, Senior Corporate Director of Commercial Strategy, Kessler Collection 
  • Jill Moulton, Sr Director Revenue Policy & Planning, Marriott International 
  • David Warman, Chief Client Officer, IDeaS Revenue Solutions  

Hanging On to ADR While Capturing Demand

Danielle Wurtzell, Regional Director of Revenue Strategy, Remington Hotels, HSMAI Rising Revenue Optimization Leader Council Member 

As corporate travel rebounds, and costs continue to increase for both hotels and clients, how can we capture the returning demand without sacrificing ADR we’ve worked so hard to rebuild? The HSMAI Revenue Optimization Rising Leader Council talked about this relevant topic recently. This is what we are seeing as trends in the RFP negotiations and how we are preserving relationships while not backing down from higher rates.  

RFP Trends We are Seeing from Clients 

  1. Return of amenities, are your services intact?  
  2. Request for flexible cancellation policies.  
  3. Guaranteed rates.  

How We are Negotiating to Hold Onto ADR 

  1. Being transparent in price increases.  
  2. Leveraging food and beverage offerings. 
  3. Using loyalty programs as a bargaining tool.  
  4. Dynamic rather than static pricing.  
  5. Adjusting occupancy rate goals to optimize labor costs.  
  6. Leveraging backyard accounts.  

Hospitality Marketing in the Cookie-Less Future

Isaac Gerstenzang, Vice President Digital Marketing & CRM, Atlantis Paradise Island, HSMAI Marketing Advisory Board Member 

It’s no secret that the cookie-less world is coming. And while it may still be a few years off, the impact it will have on hospitality marketing is already being felt. The HSMAI Marketing Advisory Board recently met to discuss the looming cookie-less world.  

Three key takeaways from our discussion:  

  1. Explore technology such as CAPI and fingerprinting.  
  1. Content will be paramount – including copy, photos and video.  
  1. Build a good brand technology stack and CRM and find partners that have cookie-less solutions.  

Cookies to Cookie-Less 

Cookies have been the backbone of online advertising for years, providing a seemingly endless stream of data that has allowed marketers to target ads with great precision. But the days of cookies are numbered, thanks to a combination of new privacy regulations (like GDPR) and companies and technologies to manage cookies that are making it harder and harder for marketers to track consumers online. 

The result is a cookie-less world in which hospitality marketers will no longer be able to rely on cookies to track consumers and deliver targeted ads. This new world will require a new approach to marketing, one that is focused on building relationships with consumers instead of simply driving conversions based off of digital habits. 

CAPI and Fingerprinting 

One solution that has been introduced by META is their  Conversions API (CAPI). CAPI is a way for marketers to track the performance of their marketing campaigns without the use of cookies. Instead, it uses a combination of data points to create a unique record of each person. This is important because it means that marketers can still track the performance of their campaigns, even if they are unable to use cookies. 

Another solution that is being explored is fingerprinting. This is a way of tracking consumers by combining user data based on device characteristics and behavior. However, it is important to note that neither of these solutions is perfect. They both have their own challenges and limitations. The cookie-less world will have a major impact on hospitality marketing. It is important for marketers to start exploring new solutions now, before it is too late. 

Content will be king in the cookie-less world, as marketers will need to find new ways to deliver value engage with consumers in a personalized way through their first party data that they collected through a robust CRM program. And while the loss of cookies may seem like a death nail for hospitality marketing, it doesn’t have to be. By investing in the right CRM Strategies, technologies and partnering with the right agencies, hospitality marketers can succeed in the cookie-less world. 

Further reader:  


5 Key Tactics HSMAI’s Rising Leaders use to Gain Buy-In from Senior Leadership

Rachel Martin, Director of Sales, Graduate Hotels, HSMAI Sales Rising Leader Council  

It can be difficult to gain the support of senior leadership for initiatives, especially if you’re in a large organization or not in a management position. The HSMAI Sales Rising Leader Council met to share their thoughts on employee engagement and gaining buy-in. 

Five Key Tactics:  

  1. Transparency is key and goes both ways. Be upfront about your career goals with your manager. RLC members also appreciated tactics like CEO fireside chats and regular all hands meetings.  
  2. Employee surveys are a great tool for leadership to get a pulse on how the employees are doing and offer leadership opportunities for work on cross functional committees.  
  3. Take Initiative! If you see a gap, take on the extra work or submit an idea for a project to tackle it. It’s not just about your promotion or recognition, but advancing the company.  
  4. Ask, if you have a question on where the company is going. Chances are you’re not the only one with the question and it shows your interest in helping the company reach it’s goals.  
  5. Cultivate Authentic Confidence: What steps can you take to improve your confidence without coming across as disingenuous? These seven strategies can elevate you without feeling inauthentic.

Revenues vs Profit: Where should our focus as Revenue Leaders truly be?

Matt Acker, Corporate Manager of Revenue Strategy at Concord Hospitality Enterprises, HSMAI Revenue Optimization Rising Leader Council Member 

In the hospitality industry, there is always a delicate balance that revenue leaders must maintain between top-line revenue and bottom-line profit. While it is important to maximize revenue, if this is done at the expense of profit margins, the hotel will not be sustainable in the long run. So, the question the HSMAI Revenue Optimization Rising Leader Council recently grappled with was: where should our focus as revenue leaders be? 

The answer, of course, is that it depends. Every hotel is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, here are some great ideas from our discussion.  

Key Takeaways:  

  1. Find the middle ground. It’s not necessarily one or the other, how can we maximize gross revenue without sacrificing the bottom line?  
  2. Make sure you understand operations, P&L, and financials to help guide decisions.  
  3. Influence profit through accurate occupancy forecasting – which leads to appropriate staffing levels.  
  4. Train customer service staff on guest recovery solutions that don’t give away the house.  
  5. Revenue manage the space for groups, which often is sold at a flat rate.  

Ultimately, don’t get stuck focusing solely on the rooms. It’s up to us as revenue leaders to branch out into other areas to impact both the top and bottom lines.  

HSMAI Rising Leader Council Insights: Exploring Hotel Loyalty Programs by Generation

Katie Horner, Digital Marketing Manager, Red Roof Inn, HSMAI Rising Marketing Leader Council 

The HSMAI Rising Marketing Leader Council recently met to discuss how loyalty programs evolve to meet the needs of today’s consumers. 

It is no secret that different generations have different priorities when it comes to their loyalty programs. For example, Boomers tend to value perks like free breakfast and room upgrades, while younger travelers are often looking for something more adventurous, such as exclusive access to events or experiences. However, there are some things that we discussed that cut across the generations.  

All Generations Appreciate:  

  1. Convenience and ease of use. 
  2. Long lasting perks.   
  3. Quick sign-up process.  

For brands and hotels without loyalty programs we also discussed how recognition and personalization are so important to all guests. For example, when checking into a property, does the front desk staff know your status, if you’ve been there before?  

Top Trends in Loyalty Programs:   

  1. Convenient to use.  
  2. Gamified content.  
  3. App based programs.  
  4. Reaching generations where they are at, whether that’s a phone line or on TikTok. 
  5. Tiers of loyalty to keep people engaged.  


HSMAI Perspective: The Second Annual State of Talent Report

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

The HSMAI Foundation is excited to announce the release of the 2nd Annual State of Talent report! This report dives into eight talent-related trends we have identified as key considerations for attracting new talent, developing emerging talent, and engaging existing talent. Within each trend, we offer resources so you can learn more and actionable advice to leverage within your company. At our recent Foundation Board and America’s Board meetings, these talent trends were reinforced repeatedly.

The HSMAI Foundation turned our focus to the need for talent in 2018, when talent shortages were looming. We have spent the last four years watching our industry grapple with talent challenges while surviving the worst disruption in travel in nearly 100 years. Talent shortages continue to drive decisions as hotel commercial teams meet and surpass 2019 figures.

This report highlights eight positive trends that are impacting sales, marketing, and revenue optimization departments and the talent that makes them tick. Each one is a tribute to those who figured it out and kept moving forward in the belief that people need to travel, to see unfamiliar places, visit friends and family, and to explore and experience what life has to offer.

The eight trends highlighted in the report are:

  1. Mental health, safety, and wellbeing are essential.
  2. Corporate culture and values matter.
  3. Commercial strategy accelerates.
  4. Collaboration is crucial.
  5. New talent pipelines require nurturing.
  6. Development reskilling and upskilling gain importance.
  7. Marketing professionals help in recruitment and retention.
  8. Flexible work is here to stay.

We believe the State of Talent report is a must-read for companies looking to attract, develop, and retain top talent. We hope you find this report valuable and look forward to continued dialogue.

Looking Ahead: HSMAI Leadership Share Their Best Ideas for Talent Management

Recently the HSMAI Americas Board and HSMAI Foundation Board members shared perspectives on talent management. From the discussions, it’s clear that as we move into 2023 practices to attract, develop, and engage talent across commercial functions are going to continue to evolve. Below are some of the highlights for how leaders are handling talent management in the coming year.


The talent pipeline continues to need nurturing. Here are five keys shared:

  • Shorten and streamline the recruitment, interview, and hiring process.
  • Lean into university partnerships.
  • Internship programs have come back and continue to be an effective pipeline.
  • Have marketing teams help HR brand and sell during the recruitment process.
  • Embrace remote or flexible work.


Leaders repeatedly mentioned investment in developing their current talent. These are the top three tips recommended:

  • Invest in training and tools for professional development and certification opportunities <LINK> and celebrate program completion.
  • Build up cross training, job shadowing, mentoring programs, and job rotation programs.
  • Break down technology and data silos to allow people to work more effectively.


Engaging existing talent was another focus of our leaders for 2023. Five points you can use with your teams are:

  • Identify, recognize, and develop high performers.
  • Continue to invest in DEI and ESG programs.
  • Encourage innovation and experimentation.
  • Invest in your technology stack to allow more efficient work.
  • Restore work-life balance, joy, and a sense of meaning and accomplishment.

For a deeper dive, read about the top eight talent trends in the HSMAI Foundation’s new special report: The State of Hotel Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization Talent.

HSMAI Rising Leader Insight: Rethinking Customer Segmentation

Emma Scher, Personalize.AI Customer Success Lead, ZS, HSMAI Revenue Optimization Rising Leader Council Member

There are a variety of ways to segment customers, but the most common method is to look at business, transient, group, and package or discount travelers. However, this approach doesn’t take full advantage of the data about the customer that is readily available, and as a result, it can be quite limiting. Additionally, this method doesn’t consider the different channels that customers book through, preferences for products or the customer’s elasticity. The HSMAI Rising Leader Council discussed moving beyond traditional customer segmentations.

Top 4 Tips:

  • Use data to move towards bottom-up segmentation rather than the current top down.
  • There are many applications for segmentation:
    1. Forecasting
    2. Benchmarking against competition
    3. Targeted marketing
    4. Product recommendations
  • Ensure insights and data is actionable at the hotel level; prioritize analysis that can lead to specific changes.
  • Create agility in the data to adjust the level of granularity based on the application.

Go Deeper

Hotels can no longer afford to segment their customers in the old way. They must be agile and adapt to the changing landscape to stay ahead of the competition.

The data that is collected on customers is extremely valuable, but it isn’t useful if it isn’t actionable. Using a few segments can make management and actioning easier, however can lead to loss of visibility into some trends. Therefore, consider analyzing trends and booking patterns more granularly by source or rate code to understand trends that don’t fall within traditional segment bounds. The more you can learn about customer behavior, the more effectively you can market to them!

It is also important to create agility in reporting to allow for users to change the level of granularity depending on the application. This will allow users to respond to changes in the market quickly and efficiently while scaling the story to an appropriate level.

Let’s Get Phygital! 5 Ways to Leverage Phygital Interactions to Engage your Guests

Megan Allen, Marketing Manager, Evolution Hospitality, HSMAI Marketing Rising Leader Council Member

As hoteliers work to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of technology, they are turning to new and innovative ways to engage with their consumers and guests. One such way is to use phygital interaction. The HSMAI Marketing Rising Leaders Council recently met to discuss all things phygital.

What is Phygital?

Phygital is defined as a hybrid of physical and digital interactions. This can be seen in anything from using QR codes for loyalty programs at the front desk to implementing Zingle – a cell phone communication tool, to iPads in every room.

Five Ways to Use Phygital

So, how can hoteliers use phygital interaction to their advantage? Here are five ways:

  1. Virtual tours. By providing a virtual walk through of your hotel, guests can get a feel for the property without needing to visit. This is especially useful for groups and events that require customization.
  2. Virtual check-in kiosks. With virtual check-in kiosks, guests can check in to their room without having to go through the traditional check-in process. This is a great way to save time for your staff and enhance the guest experience for those seeking phygital interaction.
  3. iPads in every room. By providing iPads in every room, guests have a convenient way to access hotel information and services, such as room service, WiFi code, the TV, and more.
  4. QR code. Use a QR code so guests can easily access information about hotel amenities or view the on-property restaurant menu from the convenience of their phone.
  5. Target marketing ads via geolocation. Leverage the power of technology to target guests based on their physical location or send them a push notification via mobile app to offer them a discount the next time they’re in the area.

Ultimately, phygital interaction is a powerful tool that hotels can use to engage with consumers and guests to create a more immersive and interactive experience.