On Business Travel, Pricing and Talent

HSMAI recently held its Chief Sales Officer Virtual Executive Roundtable, a discussion that included participants from Accor, Best Western Hotels, Drury Hotels, Extended Stay America, Graduate Hotels, IHG, Loews Hotels & Co, MGM Resorts International, Omni Hotels & Resorts, Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Red Roof Inn, and Rosewood Hotel Group. During the roundtable, the group addressed several topics, including the return of business travel, communicating pricing to customers, and best practices for commercial talent today. Here’s how they responded to survey questions about these pressing issues.

Business Travel

What are you watching to monitor the return of the business travel segment?

  • Customer feedback and financial trends
  • Interest/volume by segment
  • Air lift
  • Measuring results for specific accounts from 2019
  • Evergreen contracts

What are you anticipating to be different in this year’s RFP process?

  • Dynamic pricing
  • Inflation
  • Inclusion of more properties
  • Rate increases and lots of negotiations
  • Less resistance to rate growth

Pricing

What is a best practice to articulate price increases to customers?

  • Outline operational cost variances year over year
  • Must demonstrate value and have competitive rate strategies
  • It can be difficult to negotiate with business travel customers; must be flexible

Talent Best Practices

What is a best practice for retaining and motivating your sales team?

  • Clearly defined goals and rapid rewards
  • Additional sales incentives, more SPIFFS, and contests
  • Career development and learning
  • Flexible schedules and remote work
  • Enhancing culture, compensation, and investment in the team
  • Providing travel opportunities

What is a best practice for developing your sales team?

  • Education and training outside of the industry
  • Assess each individual and develop their gaps
  • Talent review and career planning
  • Learning from each other via shadowing appointments and collaboration

Roundtable participants also discussed the tools they have used to cross-train their team and help them become more versatile in working with other markets. In addition to toolkits and shadowing, these executives have implemented a mentee program; hosted collaborative discussions with small focus groups; created a task force between hotel and global sales; and used learning courses outside of hotels.

HSMAI periodically hosts invitation-only peer-to-peer roundtables for qualifying sales, marketing, revenue, digital, distribution, and commercial executives from brands, hotel management companies, and ownership groups to discuss emerging issues and trends impacting them, their companies, and their teams.

To confirm your eligibility to participate or explore partnership opportunities for any of these roundtables, email bgilbert@hsmai.org.

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