Guest writer Jackie Douglas, President, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) shares her insights and practices which the hospitality industry has learnt from COVID.
The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International’s (HSMAI) Marketing Advisory Board in Australia & Asia Pacific spent time recently discussing the top issues facing hotels and the professionals leading sales and marketing efforts. Surprisingly, the issues themselves have changed since our last “scouting” exercise conducted in November 2020 and the context has shifted to the “new abnormal.”
In November, we talked a lot about functional changes in the organisation. The teams were focussing on things like automation, digitization, cleaning data, rethinking who our customers are, developing “out of the box” creative partnerships with goods/services we never would have thought of previously and the need to shorten the lead-time to launch campaigns when the COVID restrictions are changing day-to-day.
In November 2020, the consensus was that the pandemic had forced us to focus on efficiencies and measuring performance to enable us to use our budget more wisely. We are not duplicating work and we’re much better at sharing skills across functional areas.
There was also a hint of what was to come in regards to our commercial staff, that when asked to rank issues in order of importance, the leaders noted the concern about workload and quality of life and that morale and motivation would be important to recovering from the 2020 COVID shock.
The issues were all around the leaders dealing with functional issues, the rapid changes and a high workload.
We were all dealing in a highly challenging time and where the old “Normal” was a crisis every 1-2 years, now we are in constant crisis mode.
The constant nature of the crisis was wearing everyone out, especially in November when it became clear that this pandemic wasn’t over and wouldn’t be for a long time. The thought of keeping up the pace for another year was concerning everyone.
What’s happening now? (6 months later)
In early June 2021, we spoke to the Pacific regional Commercial, Sales & Marketing leaders and found that the focus had changed a lot.
Now we are accepting COVID as the “new normal”
We’re much more agile, leaner and faster to respond. When the restrictions change, or markets close or open, we know what to do, there is no panic, we just get on with it. Everyone knows their role and we all collaborate and adapt to make the best of the situation.
As a result of the pandemic, now we are:
- Much more resilient
- More agile
- More open to new ideas
- Have less fear of failure: which drives more innovation
- More familiar with the Profit & Loss numbers
The consensus is that the pandemic forced hoteliers to be more agile, innovative, and learn how to do more with fewer people. The best part: it’s working! Increased focus on profitability
With our traditional measures being less relevant today due to the variances in supply and business changes, focus on profitability measures such as ProPAR (Profit per Available Room), channel profitability, and acquisition costs have moved to the forefront.
Revenue leaders are becoming commercial strategists as they work with and understand the key measures that will drive the entire strategy across all commercial disciplines.
What can hoteliers do now?
As you are thinking about your own KPIs, ask yourself a few key questions:
- With profitability as an increasingly key metric, how strong is your and your team’s business acumen?
- What metrics will help you price where you should?
- What metrics will help you know if what you’re doing is working?
- What new data can provide more relevant insights during the recovery than in a typical environment?
While it is hard to appreciate the opportunities at hand in the midst of the serious crisis facing hotels, there are a few.
- Innovation in Optimization: Experiment with new ways to optimize function space, restaurants, and ancillary services; Diversify your revenue; Expand revenue optimization principles and techniques into non-room revenue-producing areas
- Talent Development: Support those on your team who are still working by giving them the tools to build their resilience and take care of their mental health, and help them prioritize and learn to “no” to requests that distract them from their focus on revenue optimization; Build your pipeline by through the next generation of revenue professionals – connect with a university-level hospitality program to speak to classes, offer internships when safe and practical, and provide faculty with special projects to give their students real-world experience
And most of all, thinking creatively, break down silos, and better position yourself, your team, and your company to thrive post-Covid. There is a strong need for cross-skilling your team to ensure they are ahead of the competition.
Tim Wiersma, CRME, chair of the HSMAI Americas Revenue advisory board and President & CEO of Revenue Generation, Inc., summed it up. “Any remaining silos that exist between sales, marketing and revenue will fall,” he said. “New industry-standard KPIs will become more prominent in the industry. Technology will play an even bigger role in the future.”
About HSMAI and Jackie Douglas
Jackie Douglas is the President of Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI).
HSMAI is a 90-year old, non-profit association and is the industry’s leading advocate for intelligent, sustainable hotel revenue growth. HSMAI is an individual membership organisation comprising more than 7,000 members globally with a presence in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, Brazil and the Middle East.