HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board’s Tips for Driving Hotel Revenues in 2023

Paula Zeller, Divisional Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Remington Hotels, HSMAI Sales Advisory Board Member 

With costs rising and flow more difficult to achieve, sales teams must exceed revenue expectations for hotels and/or ownership to achieve acceptable profit levels. The HSMAI Sales Advisory Board got together to discuss how to meet those revenue expectations.  

Five ways to adjust your mix of business in 2023 

  1. Shift to retail.  
  2. Group up. 
  3. Mix the discount business differently such as AAA and advance purchase.  
  4. Continuously analyze the business including running P&L for groups to make sure they are profitable.  
  5. Look for ways to capture direct channel business because it’s more profitable.  

Five ideas to manage group inventory differently 

  1. Increase the frequency of benchmarking the market to see what concessions and group rates competitors are giving.  
  2. Capitalize on the opportunities for higher rate of business in the shorter term, rather than relying on pace reports as we have in the past.   
  3. Learn the art of walking business – move groups to another hotel if another piece of group business comes in that is a better pattern, has more F&B and a higher priced ADR. 
  4. Move groups within property as needed and get ingenious about space.   
  5. Change the convention service manager position to remote so that they can manage several hotels.  

Five tips to grow budget/revenue 

  1. Stay agile, look at lead times and the business that’s out there.  
  2. If one segment, such as retail, is at a peak, look at other segments like groups to make-up revenue.  
  3. Provide the sales teams with the right tools on how to educate the client to close business.  
  4. Look to mid-size hotels that have been good for smaller meetings.  
  5. Review your processes and ask, “Is how we have to do this? Is there a technology that now exists that will make people more efficient?”  

Check out 7 Hospitality Sales Tips to Conquer Your Revenue Goals for more tips.  

10 Ways to Operationalize Sustainable, Regenerative, and Locally Immersive Travel Experiences

By Hilary Feutz, CHDM, Director of Digital & Communications Strategy at Terranea Resort, HSMAI Rising Marketing Leader Council Member 

As we move forward from the pandemic, sustainability and regenerative tourism must be a priority. It’s no longer just a question of being sustainable and doing as little harm as possible during travel but looking forward to how we can eliminate and reverse the harm to create a positive impact. Jonathon Day of Purdue University via The New York Times explains, “Sustainable tourism is sort of a low bar at the end of the day. It’s just not making a mess of the place. Regenerative tourism says let’s make it better for future generations. 

Travel industry-led studies are proving that going green leads to better loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing, as well as higher customer satisfaction. Booking.com’s recent travel survey showed that 53% of travelers are starting to look for more sustainable ways to reduce their environmental and social footprint. Travelers are carefully considering where they put their dollars, to spend with intention and leave the world a better place than what they were born into. 

Here are ten ideas HSMAI Rising Leader Council Members shared to operationalize green practices:  

  1. Form a voluntary employee green team! Have monthly meetings to brainstorm and discuss relevant topics, which helps to create internal ambassadors at all levels who can advance key initiatives, like decreasing food waste in the employee cafeterias.  
  2. Include carbon offsets in booking and highlight LEED-certified properties. Add a filter option on search results, where you can filter for green emissions or energy-efficient properties.  
  3. Swap dispensers for single-use products, like shampoo, conditioner, and soap bars. This can help reduce not only costs, but also the amount of plastic and bottled containers.  
  4. Reduce paper usage.  Rather than printing receipts for guests and sliding them under the doors, email receipts or have them available on an app; use QR codes to offer digitally, information that was once printed.  
  5. Reduce water and energy usage with on-demand housekeeping. Consider transitioning to housekeeping every couple of days unless requested daily.   
  6. Purchase a farm….no really. One property bought a farm, to focus on farm-to-table dining and reduce that carbon footprint. Or partner with a local farm to supply flowers on property and educational programming like a kid’s camp.  
  7. Go local with experiences. Two examples include properties having a local experience page to connect guests with community vendors, or service-oriented activities like a beach cleanup.  
  8. Connect with local or global charitable organizations.  
  9. Offer eco-friendly products. One example is giving out complimentary reef-safe sunscreen.  
  10. Evaluate your brand standards. Making a change on a company-wide level has a big impact and conveys a consistent green message to consumers across property collateral and websites. 



The Future of Retailing – Challenges and Opportunities

Lauri Mussa, Director of Reservations and Channel Management, Rosewood Hotel Group, HSMAI Global Distribution Advisory Board Member  

What is retailing?  

Is retailing the unbundling of rooms? Is it selling meeting space? Is it selling food and beverage? Is it your transfer? Is it collaboration with a partnership? Is it, in five years that the gen Zs and the millennials are going to want to buy their travel in one spot? What does that mean to the hospitality industry? 

Retailing is all those different things, and in hospitality, we are leading down the path of a broad definition. HSMAI’s Global Distribution Advisory Board got together to discuss all things retailing. Read on for the innovations, obstacles, and future of retailing.  

Challenges to Implementing a Retail Strategy 

  1. The industry needs more data, especially to consider if this is a good financial decision.  
  2. There is a danger of losing yourself when trying to retail incremental things when we cannot say that we’ve done a great job at retailing our primary products.  
  3. It can be technologically complex and costly.  
  4. Making sure of what you have, testing and learning what constitutes value. 
  5. Operational challenges in fulfilling offerings, from the communication when it sells on the website to get to the operations team, to take something through to the room, to go to the transportation team, etc. It can be incredibly difficult to bring that all together and to make it a great experience for the guests.  

Opportunities for Implementing Retailing  

  1. Put a booking widget on a website as a test to see if people will buy rental cars or flights from your website.  
  2. Develop a retailing insights program and expand product offerings. 
  3. Gain incremental revenue by including a product link and taking the commission of the top line.  
  4. Build the platforms, the APIs, and the deep links into all your verticals.  
  5. Look for ease of implementation and low development costs – like a partner that provides the scripts and artwork.   

5 Predictions for The Future of Retailing in Hospitality 

  1. We need leadership from the top, driving through the message that this is the way of the future. 
  2. Hospitality is lagging behind other industries mostly because of technology and that will be a hard gap to close. 
  3. Staffing and resourcing will continue to be the biggest obstacles. 
  4. Booking.com and Expedia have the money and the resources. They’re going to be pushing the envelope, in terms of retailing and travel options. 
  5. Whether the battle is won or lost is in the ability to attract profit to our sites in the first place. 

Whatever the future holds, retailing is an exciting change for the industry. 

Curate Session Recap: The Leadership

The capstone of Curate was a panel assembled and moderated by Bob Gilbert, President & CEO, HSMAI.

The session explored the leadership needed to integrate commercial into an organization and included the following panelists.

  • Rhett Hirko, Senior Vice President Revenue Optimization and Distribution, Preferred Hotels & Resorts
  • Stephanie Glanzer, Chief Sales Officer and SVP, MGM Resorts
  • Eric Kreins, Assistant Managing Director of Sales, Hilton Worldwide Sales
  • Andrew Rubinacci, EVP Commercial & Revenue Strategy, Aimbridge Hotels
  • Ed Skapinok, Chief Commercial Officer, Appellation Hotels

Highlights from the session include:

  • Commercial can explain a lot of the things you do, from communication of purpose and messaging of who you are.
  • A commercial structure keeps everything focused and helps refine you marketing messaging, and speed to market is greatly enhanced.
  • The commercial framework helped build and execute an outstanding corporate culture – a matrixed, collaborative approach that fosters coherence of brand.
  • One brand went commercial over last couple of years. It was a shift that was necessitated by Covid. They made the shift to data-driven decisions and commercial has caused them to work more closely together.
  • For another, commercial is a new term. They found it important to not be siloed and they have found the benefit is efficiency has brought. Leaders have to believe it and practice it .
  • Commercial is an iterative process.
  • Commercial is more developed in Europe and means business, top line sales.
  • Commercial benefits the organization in prioritization, by everyone moving in same direction.
  • You must have the right teams to make it work to do what’s right for the organization.

For leaders in any organization, embracing the journey to becoming a commercial-centric organization requires leadership and commitment at the top of the organization or within a department. The implications to the individual disciplines may vary but at the end of the day, if done correctly, everyone will be “rowing in the same direction” and the integration will be seamless in the eyes of team members the impact will be felt in term of premium performance and customer satisfaction metrics.

Curate Session Recap: The Star

One highlight of Curate is learning from other industries. This year, Curate kicked-off with a reception and tour of The Star, the unique 91-acre campus that is the Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters and practice facility. Marta Gola, VP, Tour & Event Sales of Legends, welcomed the group and gave an overview of how the Star operates.

The next day the group heard from Chad Estis, EVP of Business Operations Dallas Cowboys; Legends and Peter Strebel, Chairman of Omni Hotels & Resorts. The session was moderated by Flo Lugli, Principal and Founder, Navesink Advisory Group, and HSMAI Americas Board Member.

The conversation focused on the genesis of the facility and how great brands feed off each other. The Cowboys, Omni Hotels, and Legends all work together to optimize profit and the customer experience. They shared how they accomplished this through building authentic relationships and partnerships. They both expressed that they believed the Star would not be there without relationships.

Peter Strebel shared, that “You have to have connections. I take calls from a friend of a friend. It may take years but invest in your connections in life.”

The final piece of advice that Chad Estis left the group with was to, “Think about how you add value, portray how you will bring value to any business relationship.”

Curate Session Recap: The Framework and Roadmap

Mike Moorman, ZS, returned to the stage in the afternoon to present and facilitate a working session: The Framework and Roadmap. Mike opened with sharing a few slides (found here) to prepare for the working session. He described that for many companies, a commercial effectiveness audit is a common starting point for commercial effectiveness initiatives.  

The audit has the following objectives:  

  • Common framework and language 
  • Shared understanding across leadership and key stakeholders 
  • Objective assessment of key prioritizes 
  • Cleans and compelling roadmap and business case 
  • Clear charter and accountabilities 

Mike reintroduced the 12 key drivers for the hospitality industry that he had identified. Then, he gave attendees the opportunity to start thinking about their organization’s position for each one.  

After the exercise many realized that the road to commercial effectiveness will be “a system and team sport,” as Mike put it, and not something they can accomplish alone.  

The final poll of the day demonstrated that the vast majority of the room felt the investment in commercial effectiveness would have a significant impact on their companies.  

If you’d like to recreate the experience, work through the templates found in his slides – available exclusively to HSMAI organizational members. 

Curate Session Recap: The Current State of Commercial

During the HSMAI Curate 2022 current state session, we heard from four industry leaders that have experimented with commercial in their organizations from creating new commercial roles, to deployment, data mining, and leadership. Read on for highlights or visit the slides for further information.

IHG Commercial Edge
Presented by Sharon Paine, VP Revenue Management & Stephanie Ochs, Head of Commercial Above Property Services, IHG

Situation – Due to turnover and loss of expertise, IHG focused on a couple of brands.

Objective/Strategy – They looked at sales, revenue management, marketing and saw gaps.

Solution – They developed commercial strategy vision combining revenue management, sales, digital marketing, supported by technology.

Results – Breaking down silos can’t be the end of it, the sum has to be greater than pieces in the end to have convergence – freeing up them to do what they do best, and they filled in the gaps at corporate level to drive quality low-cost revenue, as well as created a commercial strategist role.

Taking a Fresh Look at Commercial Strategy Deployment

Lynsey Kreitzer, Senior Vice President, Sales & Commercial Strategy, GF Hotels & Resorts

Presented by partner Jennifer Hill, Kalibri Lab

Situation – GF started with definition: a commercial strategy is a design of a coordinated set of actions across sales and marketing to take advantage of key opportunities for value creation.

Objective/Strategy – Commercial strategy applies a shared vision.

 Solution – Understanding commercial strategy deployment: what is the problem, who are the players, what are their responsibilities, what are the resources? They realized they needed to move beyond.

Results – Creating solutions with cutting-edge resources through tactical deployment across all channels, assessing results on a shared vision that becomes a shared reality.

Intelligent Commercial Strategy Through Smart Data Integration

Presented by Timothy Wiersma, President, Revenue Generation

Situation – There were too many reports, too many storylines and disjointed data. They were seeking a singles source of truth about marketing spend.

Objective/Strategy – Develop a common understanding of the role of legacy data and a common language to define priorities.

Solution – Mine the necessary raw data.

Results – A visual analytics platform that is transforming the way they use data to solve problems.

Commercial Strategy -A Lesson In Leadership

Lori Kiel, Chief Commercial Officer, Kessler Collection

Situation – Commercial strategy is evolving, and the infrastructure is still developing.

Objective/Strategy – Commercial strategy had to live at the top where strategy is being formed. Take strategies back to their disciplines. Leaders need to stay in air traffic control to best lead commercial strategy, not executing.

Solution – Embrace nomenclature – changing titles is not enough. Define the common goals of the three disciplines. Collaborate as one commercial team. Provide enrichment regularly showing example of what you want to happen and what is happening and offer the space for feedback.

Results – TBD

HSMAI Perspective: Why is commercial excellence important in the hospitality industry?

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

During the summer, I wrote that the evolution within the hospitality industry to break down silos between commercial disciplines – especially sales, marketing, revenue management, and distribution – continues to accelerate…and there have been lots of questions about commercial strategy. 

Recently in Frisco, we met with representatives from our organizational members at our Curate Executive Insights Forum. We learned, collaborated, and delved into many of the questions around building a commercial centric organization. As we see from the polling of attendees, the need for commercial excellence in the hospitality industry is apparent and multifaceted.  

Curate came at a critical time for many companies. While 34% of people in the room considered their companies well on their way or as a commercial effectiveness leader, the majority had made some progress or were in the initial stages of defining priorities.  

While the majority of companies attending Curate are at the initial stages of their journey or have only made progress in some areas, all benefited from the case studies and leadership stories from industry experts, visiting the Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters, and hearing about the power of relationships from Dallas Cowboy EVP, Chad Estis.  

ZS’s Mike Moorman set the stage for the concept of commercial excellence (slides here) and presented a framework on 12 key drivers (slides here). Like the need for it, the implementation of commercial effectiveness is complex, and the drivers included everything from market insights to pricing strategy to cross-functional organization design and alignment.  

Curate was a thought-provoking day. We’ve captured some key insights in this month’s Executive Insights newsletter, exclusive content for you, associates of HSMAI organizational members. We look forward to continuing the conversation of the industry’s evolution towards commercial excellence.  

Thank you to Curate attendees for your contributions to the discussion and to our task team for helping set the content and agenda.  


Jamieson Asselta 

IDeaS Revenue Solutions  

Agnelo Fernandes 

Terranea Resort  

Christen Garb 


Kaaren Hamilton 


Jennifer Hill 

Kalibri Labs  

Lori Kiel 

Kessler Collection  

Marina MacDonald 

Red Roof  

Kelly McGuire 


Breffni Noone 

University of Pennsylvania  

Stephanie Ochs 


Sharon Paine 


Andrew Rubinacci 

Aimbridge Hospitality   

Ken Tutt 


John Washko 

Mohegan Sun   



Curate 2022: The Definition: Achieving Commercial Excellence

Mike Moorman, principal at ZS, kicked off HSMAI’s 2022 Curate Executive Insights Forum with a session focused on achieving commercial excellence leveraging his expertise across industries. His goal when working with organizations is to evolve their commercial functions to become increasingly impactful in their markets.  

Why commercial excellence?  

Mike explained that B2B commercial effectiveness has its roots in sales force effectiveness. Sales Strategy, Sales Force Design, Customer Engagement Process, People and Skills, and Motivation are all key drivers – these leading practices are priorities for success on commercial journey. 

An organization can’t reach the pinnacle in all the drivers, but the idea is to drive growth and business outcomes in the areas that are most important to you. You must ask, what combination of drivers can you focus on to achieve your objectives?  

Investments in commercial effectiveness can have significant ROI– if you improve the optimization commercial functions, you can increase organic growth +5% in revenue. 

Ideas on organizational implementation 

Traditionally there is a paradigm of a department doing its part and then handing off to the next department – like a baton transfer. It is one of the sources of the biggest rifts – especially between marketing and sales departments. The better sport to have in mind is three-legged race – in marketing and sales there is more of a joint ownership mentality, collaborative, input, partnering. Ask yourself, which you are – a baton transfer or three-legged race? 

Organizations are all over the map in structure and there are many paths to commercial excellence. Trends include: 

  • Naming a Chief Commercial Officer or Chief Revenue Officer 
  • Opening commercial centers of excellence 
  • Changing culture, processes, & shared metrics 

What is forcing organizations to work better together across functions? 

  • Omni channels and orchestration 
  • Closed loop leads management 
  • Digitized sales forces 
  • Solutions and/or value-based selling 
  • Strategic account management 
  • B2B to C information about our customer’s customers 

Mike shared that there are two ways to get to commercial excellence – evolution or revolution. Evolution is incremental, a year over year continuous improvement plan. Transformational is a larger scale strategy and/or capabilities change.  

Current effectiveness is just one consideration when determining priorities, roadmap, and business case. Other factors include expected impact and investment and difficulty plus interdependency.  

Mike had one final piece of advice for embarking on the commercial effectiveness journey, “Be careful not to try to boil the ocean.”  

Take a look at his slides for more.  

21 Takeaways from the HSMAI Sales Leader Forum

The action-packed HSMAI Sales Leader Forum last week in Frisco, Texas, included strategic conversations, thought leader keynotes, and collaborative roundtables. Read on for key takeaways from the event that highlighted important trends and provided critical insights and best practices.

On the Recovery

  1. We’ve reached a new high much quicker than other downturns driven by transient travelers, though central business districts in urban areas lag in recovery.
  2. ADR growth is slowing as consumers start pushing back against high growth rates and STR is predicting a mild recession for the second half of next year.
  3. There is an optimistic outlook as group travel is coming back and the rise in “bleisure” travel.
  4. Customers’ expectations have changed. We are driving ADR but customers are wondering where is the service for this rate increase?

How to Attract and Retain Talent

  1. It’s on us to talk about how awesome hospitality is and the benefits of the industry like living, working, and traveling all over the globe.
  2. Sales talent is everywhere, not exclusively at hospitality schools.
  3. Leaders should start and end their days talking to top talent. Many are so focused on who is quiet quitting, they are not focused on retaining top talent.
  4. Talent based leaders accept people for who they are (and aren’t).

On Commercial

  1. Commercial leaders should be collaborative, analytical, and competitive. If you wait for a unicorn of someone who is an expert in both sales and revenue strategy, you’ll still be looking in five years.
  2. We used to live in siloes, now you must have a full commercial view and use many data points to make targeted and strategic marketing decisions.
  3. Cross discipline training will result in more commercial leaders.

Improving Efficiency and Technology

  1. The future is digital. Traditional lead generation will soon be obsolete, and sales organizations need to keep up.
  2. The fastest way to great outcomes is building trusted relationships – internal and external.
  3. You need clean data and staff processes. Then automate everything you can. “Get the bots to do the things you hate, so you can get back to the things you love.” Kelly McGuire, ZS.
  4. Ask yourself, can you make it easier? Can you make it faster?
  5. The most efficient sales are the rebook, so service delivery is more important than ever.
  6. When posting on social media, have a goal in mind, include a call to action, and use emojis and hashtags. #HotelDigitalMarketingEssentials class starts next week! 😎

We’ll leave you with this life advice from Roger Dow, recipient of HSMAI’s Lifetime Achievement in Sales Award:

  1. Hand write notes
  2. Take risks
  3. Act as if…[you have the job you want]
  4. Slow down

And remember, “Everything in life is about sales.”

Stay tuned for session video recording coming soon.

HSMAI Sales Leader Forum 2022