Kalibri Labs to launch strategy certification program

In a strategic collaboration, Kalibri Labs and industry associations including AAHOA, HFTP and HSMAI are set to launch the first commercial strategy certification program. The curriculum will provide practical tools and techniques to hotel operators looking to operate profitably in a marketplace with rising costs, emphasizing the importance of growing asset value as a measure of success and introducing the concept of profit contribution as a critical component in commercial decision-making.

Traditional approaches to commercial techniques have typically focused on maximizing revenue. However, the commercial strategy certification program will underscore the added significance of growing asset value by focusing on profit contribution. This shift in perspective aims to ensure hotel professionals consider the bottom line in commercial spending decisions, such as those around advertising, sales deployment, digital campaigns and loyalty initiatives.

Recognizing the need for a comprehensive and multidisciplinary curriculum, the program will be developed and implemented with guidance from an advisory board of industry thought leaders, academics and experienced practitioners. The curriculum will encompass many topics from calculation of asset value to tradeoff analysis and assessing actions related to a hotel's business mix.

"In working on the certification with one of my co-authors on the book [Demystifying the Digital Market & Guide to Commercial Strategy], Dave Roberts from the faculty of Cornell's Hotel School, we recognize that a rigorous certification will define a standard of excellence and convey the necessary skills and knowledge to advance the emerging discipline of commercial strategy throughout the industry," Kalibri Labs CEO and co-founder Cindy Estis Green said in a statement. "It is a critical toolkit to manage effectively with the high costs of operating in today's marketplace."

The participating organizations will target various roles, including on-property and above-property general managers, financial and accounting managers, hotel owners, asset managers and commercial teams consisting of revenue, sales, marketing and digital leaders to gain deeper expertise in this new approach. 

Several industry figures have voiced their support for the program. "This is a sea change in the hotel industry, and we want to be part of it," HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe said. "We recognize the significant transformation in how hotels go to market and are committed to contributing to this evolution."

Bob Gilbert, president and CEO of HSMAI, also expressed enthusiasm. "Commercial strategy certification is a vehicle to sustaining a healthy hotel ecosystem in the decades to come. Leadership in revenue management, sales, marketing and digital have already started to come together in integrated planning and decision making, and the commercial strategy framework will facilitate this process."

"Hoteliers at various levels must grasp the vital importance of evaluating performance based on profit contribution," AAHOA Chairman Bharat Patel said. "At present, the burden of debt service has doubled, while labor costs have surged since the pandemic. Consequently, owners are scrutinizing every dollar. A primary avenue to improve asset value lies in growing a hotel's profit contribution. The main controllable element for a hotel lies in managing customer acquisition expenses by being selective about the business mix pursued."

Upon successful certification, each team can adapt its own commercial strategy playbook according to its specific portfolio and organizational structure. The commercial strategy certification program is projected to launch by the end of 2023.