Addressing Key Challenges and Opportunities in the Hospitality Industry: Insights from the Chief Sales & Marketing Officers Roundtable
Facilitator & Author: Heidi Gempel
As sales and marketing leaders in the dynamic and competitive hospitality industry, staying ahead of current challenges and identifying new opportunities is essential for success. The recent Chief Sales & Marketing Officers Roundtable, organized by HSMAI Asia Pacific, provided a valuable platform for commercial, digital, marketing, and sales leaders across hotel brands in the Asia Pacific region to come together and tackle the industry’s pressing issues. The discussions centered around vital topics such as distribution, sustainability, online travel agencies (OTAs), as well as meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE). This article aims to highlight the key insights and recommendations generated during the event.
The Intersection of Sustainability and Sales & Marketing
Sustainability emerged as a major topic during the roundtable discussions, focusing on how sales teams can leverage and monetize sustainability efforts. The HSMAI Commercial Advisory members in the room concluded that there is a need for education within sales teams to foster a better understanding of sustainability and develop effective communication strategies to ensure accurate messaging with customers. The lines between sustainability and wellness were also noted to be increasingly blurred, presenting additional opportunities for hotels to align their offerings. The suggestion to conduct a study on customer behavior regarding sustainability was raised, aiming to understand its importance across different traveler segments. Defining sustainability and effectively marketing sustainability credentials were identified as ongoing challenges for marketing teams. HSMAI agreed to explore the inclusion of a sustainability section in the HSMAI CHDM Study Guide.
Navigating Distribution Challenges
The roundtable participants raised important questions regarding the leadership and execution of the distribution function within the commercial team. It was acknowledged that distribution is not uniformly defined within the industry, resulting in varied interpretations across different companies. A clear distinction between large and small brands in the distribution landscape was identified, highlighting the need for industry-wide guidance. HSMAI is actively working on an update to its publication on “Demystifying Distribution” to provide best practices and address these challenges.
Harnessing Attribute-Based Selling
To compete with OTAs until they develop similar technical capabilities, hoteliers should consider adopting attribute-based selling. This approach offers an opportunity to differentiate their offerings and enhance the booking experience. Hoteliers, including independent properties, can incorporate attribute-based selling capabilities into their technology stack or IT solutions. HSMAI aims to share knowledge and insights on this topic to benefit the industry.
Shifting Source Markets and Maximizing Revenue
The roundtable participants recognized the significant influence of changing source markets and length of stay (LOS) on hotels. While positive growth in business demand has led to improved occupancies and average daily rates (ADR) across all regions, it is crucial to adapt to the evolving market dynamics. The domestic market remains a primary demand driver, but emerging markets such as Mongolia and Central/Eastern Europe are also contributing to the increased demand, particularly in countries like Vietnam. Additionally, India has emerged as a prominent source market across all price segments. Despite the recovery of brand.com, caution was advised against completely relinquishing control back to OTAs, as they continue to present challenges in the business resurgence phase.
Capitalizing on Opportunities for Revenue Growth
Although corporate travel has decreased, there has been an uptick in the length of stay. This shift opens up new avenues for revenue growth, emphasizing the importance of optimizing restaurants and meeting spaces within hotel properties. The roundtable highlighted the significance of cultivating repeat guests, as a small percentage of customers contribute significantly to overall revenue. To achieve this, concerted efforts should be directed toward converting more guests into loyal, repeat visitors. Implementing and enhancing loyalty programs can play a pivotal role in achieving this objective. Furthermore, smaller independent boutique hotels and resorts are finding opportunities by catering to small incentives and group travel among friends.
The Chief Sales & Marketing Officers Roundtable organized by HSMAI Asia Pacific served as a crucial forum for sales and marketing leaders in the hospitality industry. By addressing key challenges related to distribution, sustainability, OTAs, and revenue growth, the roundtable discussions offered valuable insights and recommendations. It emphasized the need for continuous adaptation to shifting source markets, optimizing revenue opportunities through enhanced guest experiences, embracing sustainability, and navigating the evolving distribution landscape. As the industry moves forward, sales and marketing leaders must remain proactive in exploring new strategies and approaches to drive growth and maintain a competitive edge. Mark your calendars for the upcoming Roundtable in Singapore on October 24th, 2023, to continue this essential conversation and propel the industry towards a prosperous future.