HB EXCLUSIVE: HSMAI Foundation Adopts New Vision, Launches Capital Campaign

MCLEAN, VA—The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Foundation has kicked off a campaign to be the hospitality industry’s employment brand.

The organization’s mission is to elevate the overall caliber and performance of sales, marketing and revenue management professionals in the global hospitality industry by driving initiatives that will attract new talent, develop emerging talent and engage existing talent.

“The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) founded the HSMAI Foundation as a nonprofit entity in 1983 to meet the industry’s call for insights in leadership, best practices and innovation to support sales, marketing and the just-emerging field of revenue management,” said Fran Brasseux, president, HSMAI Foundation. “In 2018, the foundation adopted its new mission.”

To move forward and succeed, the hospitality industry has had to shift with the changing times, whether it is executing technological advances, enhancing the guest experience or navigating a tight labor market. For sales, marketing and revenue optimization professionals in the industry, the need for flexibility is no different.

“By elevating the overall caliber and performance of our professionals, we can help meet and exceed financial goals,” said Agnelo Fernandes, chair, HSMAI Foundation/chief strategy officer and EVP, Terranea Resort. “Filling open positions with talented and innovative professionals in a tight labor market is an industry-wide challenge. From Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the talent shortage is always on the program, if not on the agenda.

The foundation’s efforts focus on expanding the pipeline of talent in sales, marketing and revenue optimization.

“Attracting new professionals has led us to explore partnerships with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring our Heroes; new partnerships to help better qualify interest with Aethos’ respected skill assessment psychometrics, and with International CHRIE to help better attract and educate hospitality talent,” said Fernandes.

Talent development is a top focus for the HSMAI Foundation. As of March, the U.S. unemployment rate was 3.8%—the lowest it’s been since 1969, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The nonprofit is also contending with the industry’s 70% turnover rate.

“It causes the backbone of our industry to suffer due to lost productivity, increased talent replacement costs, and lower profitability for owners,” said Brasseux. “The tight labor market is further impacted by the increasing number of travel and tourism jobs, which have increased by 3% or more for the last three years and are expected to continue to rise through 2028. The hospitality industry direct and indirect employment contribution globally will represent one in nine jobs by 2028; we knew we had to do something.”

The HSMAI Foundation took immediate action, brainstorming with its board of directors on best practices and opportunities to find qualified professionals and ways to target them.

“Our target groups include military spouses, re-entering talents, veterans, women, teachers, millennials, and current professionals who are working in other industries but seeking an exciting and fulfilling career change,” said Brasseux.

According to Fernandes, here’s how the organization will help improve the business performance of hospitality sales, marketing and revenue management professionals:

  • Industry leaders recognize that while the hospitality industry offers glamour, flexibility, portability and stability, it has not developed an employment brand that continually attracts rising stars to help drive top-line revenue.
  • Hospitality needs to better tell its story of career growth, continual training, and unlimited opportunity if it seeks to attract and retain top candidates consistently.
  • The foundation and its partners are building an employment brand for the industry that will focus on sales, marketing and revenue optimization career opportunities.

To bring these goals to life, HSMAI Foundation has launched its first-ever capital campaign, an industry-wide effort to raise funds in support of talent development.

“Together, we hope to raise $3 million to attract, develop and engage talent through program development, research and partnerships, marketing, communication and stakeholder support,” said Fernandes.

Brasseux outlined the upcoming initiatives for the HSMAI Foundation:

Employment Branding

  • Find ways to help the industry communicate its message that lucrative, engaging career paths in sales, marketing and revenue optimization offer travel, glamour, cutting-edge challenges and long-term growth opportunities.
  • Partner with Aethos Consulting Group on a new psychometric skill assessment tool.
  • Develop “Day in the Life Insights Series” to highlight what exactly sales, marketing and revenue optimization industry careers look like and require.

Attracting New Talent

  • Reach out to military spouses through a partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring our Heroes.
  • Work with International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (ICHRIE) to encourage focused research initiatives and faculty externships in sales, marketing and revenue optimization.

Developing and Engaging Talent

  • Create a Chief Human Resource Executive Roundtable to discuss attracting and developing best practices for filling the sales, marketing and revenue optimization talent pipeline.
  • Recognize excellence at the 2019 HSMAI Adrian Awards Event.
  • Explore new Mentorship Programs to encourage career growth in sales, marketing and revenue optimization.

“With the support of our first campaign capital support, we are initiating with AccorHotels a pilot program for military spouse fellowships in the Washington, DC area for this summer with expectations to expand to three to five more cities by the end of the year based on additional capital campaign support,” said Brasseux.

She added, “The HSMAI Foundation is uniquely positioned to continue to address these issues because we are globally positioned to find answers to evolving questions; uniquely capable of driving new ideas for growth; and connected to the right people and networks through HSMAI and industry leadership. We need industry support and input because we do better together.”

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