HSMAI's Top 25 share tips on hospitality sales, marketing and revenue

(HSMAI Adrian Awards)

In February, the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International held the 60th Annual Adrian Awards at New York City, recognizing excellence in travel advertising, digital marketing and public relations, and the leaders behind the work.

The event also recognized The HSMAI Top 25: Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, Revenue Optimization. Here are some insights from the Top 25:

Justin Barnette, manager, marketing & communications USA, South African Tourism: “The better we know our consumers, the better we can innovate our approach to meet their changing expectations.”

DC Becker, principal & co-owner, Titan Group of New York: “True opportunity lies in how we can innovate our direct-sales approach to make sure that we are not relying solely on the methods we’ve used in the past.”

Josh Belkin, VP & general manager, North America, Hotels.com: “We need to ensure we’re present and presentable in the digital forums that today’s travelers are engaging in, to make sure two-way conversations are possible.”

Bree Brostko, managing director, Kindred Resorts & Hotels: “Our desire to engage in transformative travel and really experience destinations is in direct conflict with the mental distractions and time poverty that we all face.”

Bonnie Buckhiester, president, Buckhiester Management: “We must encourage risk-taking, embrace innovative thinkers, and be willing to pay competitive salaries for highly creative individuals at all levels.”

Lisa Checchio, VP, brand marketing and insights, Wyndham Hotel Group: “I look to creative progress in other industries to inspire new ways to design captivating hotel experiences for our guests.” 

Britton Cordill, director of marketing & e-commerce, Marriott International: “Fashion provides marketers a unique and real point of view of the customer’s preferences.”

Santiago Corrada, president/CEO, Visit Tampa Bay: “There are no limits to the creative genius that exists in our industry and I am always blown away by how these incredible creative ideas are nurtured and transformed to reality.” 

Chris Flatt, EVP of hotel sales & marketing, Wynn Las Vegas: “Our guests and customers have many choices and if we don’t stay ahead of our competition by finding creative new ways to serve them the way they want to be served, they will go somewhere else.”  

Isaac Gerstenzang, AVP corporate e-commerce, Two Roads Hospitality: “What you will start to see more of is the integration of online and offline world. How do we capture all of this great guest data and customer behaviors online and then use it to create authentic, personalized guest experiences offline at our properties?” 

Jennifer Hill, regional director, revenue & distribution, Highgate: “I’ve always approached the work with what I consider an ‘entrepreneurial’ viewpoint. This allows me to tackle challenges with an open mind and strategize more broadly.”

Daniel Hostettler, president and group managing director, Ocean House Management Collection: “Whenever I travel [or] dine out, I am always looking for inspiration [that] can be adapted to our product and guests.” 

Danny Hughes, SVP & commercial director, Hilton: "We leaders and corporate types pretend to have answers, but our team members out in the field are way ahead of us. Our teams and our clients are the true wells of creativity and brilliance; all you have to do is watch and listen."

Victoria Isley, chief sales & marketing officer, Bermuda Tourism Authority: “I don’t think we’ve been the biggest risk-takers in the destination marketing world or travel. However, when crisis strikes—whether it be natural disaster, political or otherwise—I believe that is when we reinvent and innovate.” 

Cherry Kam, director, marketing communications, Americas, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts: “The advancement of data-driven one-to-one marketing is maturing; we can expect to see more innovation that enables hyper-personalization across platforms and channels.”  

Lynn Kaniper, owner/president, Dana Communications: “Staying in close personal contact with my professional connections has allowed me to keep my finger on the pulse of what's happening right now—and what's to come.”
Leora Halpern Lanz, lecturer, Boston University School of Hospitality Administration: “Listening to the associates who have direct guest contact is key because they have their boots on the ground and come up with some of the greatest suggestions for continuous improvement.”

Michael Lau, regional director of revenue management, AccorHotels: “We will see more innovation in marketing focusing on improving brand.com/mobile sites to convert guests at the lowest cost.”

Lisa Ross, president and partner, rbb Communications: “I’ve found social media’s influence strongest at the points where inspiration for a trip is being sought and where consumers actively share experiences.” 

Ed Skapinok, VP of sales & marketing, Hostmark Hospitality Group: “The hospitality industry is very cyclical and we have gotten better at applying what we learn with each change in the cycle.”

Edgar Tapan, head of industry, travel, Google: “Curated media platforms drive me to dream big, open my eyes and yearn for more in the travel industry.” 
Paolo Torchio: VP digital & e-commerce, Two Roads Hospitality: “The guest journey now involves technology at every touchpoint, and with technology comes an opportunity to get a message, a price or a call to action in front of a future loyal guest.” 

Vicki Varela, managing director, Utah Office of Tourism, film & global branding: “Big data, analytics and artificial intelligence give us the tools to provide our visitors the refined information and offerings to meet their custom demands, then measure the success of everything.” 
Daniel Wise, founder & chief product architect, revcaster: “The groups that learn to leverage the increasing amount of data in ways that make decision-making more accessible, faster and easier will lead the pack.”

Patrick Campbell, director of advertising, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, was unavailable for comment.