Industry Update
Opinion Article29 July 2021

HSMAI Perspective: Helping Students Help You

New insights from the HSMAI Foundation suggest how to encourage careers in hospitality sales, marketing, and revenue.

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

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A few months ago, I offered a cautionary outlook for the hospitality talent pipeline as the industry moves through recovery, noting that “hotel companies may not be sufficiently staffed with sales, marketing, and revenue professionals at the property and above-property levels to meet the return — now or in the years ahead.” That was based on insights we collected during a series of academic forums for hospitality deans, directors, and faculty that the HSMAI Foundation hosted this past spring.

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The Foundation’s mission is focused on talent and leadership development, meaning it’s not enough for us to diagnose a problem; we’re also looking for solutions. As part of those forums, we asked participants to rank various resources that would help hospitality students pursue careers in sales, marketing, and/or revenue — meaning any or all of those career paths for the deans and directors and the specific disciplines for those respective faculty. While each group participated in its own separate forums, there was a great deal of overlap for the top-ranked resources:

We also asked participants to rank a list of resources that would be helpful when it comes to developing and enhancing hospitality curriculums. Deans and directors as well as sales, marketing, and revenue faculty all agreed on the top three:

  • Digital assets — videos, interviews, podcasts, etc., especially in two-to-three-minute segments.
  • Case studies and supplemental materials — especially current issues that demonstrate industry innovation.
  • Faculty development opportunities — including certifications.

That said, the order varied slightly from group to group:

This is a lot of actional intelligence that all of us can use to continue developing the talent pipeline. Note how highly everyone ranks internships and career-planning resources, and how the disruption caused by the pandemic has created opportunities to rethink things. Here are a few possibilities:

Get creative with staffing solutions. Internships don’t have to be a summer-only program. Can your hotel or hotel company craft a semester-long internship for a student or group of students in partnership with a class at a local hospitality school?

Get creative with student roles.
How can students be productive for you? Where can they play a role? With telemarketing? Research? Lead review and proposal follow-up? Prospecting? Ecommerce and channel management assistance? Website content review and edits? The list goes on and on.

Get creative from here on out. Hospitality talent may not exist in the form it used to for the foreseeable future. How can you find a way to get someone with a predetermined passion for hospitality to join you now — and keep them with you?

This is just one part of the conversation around talent. Check out two additional new articles about where hotel companies are experiencing the staffing crisis and how the industry is closing the gender gap at the executive level. And look for additional resources from the HSMAI Foundation in the coming months.

Let’s keep talking about talent and leadership development, both for and with our students. The future of our industry depends on it.

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Robert A. Gilbert

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