Like most industries, hospitality took a hit during the economic downturn, but the Arizona travel industry started to recover in 2010 and pumped $18.3 billion in direct travel spending into Arizona’s economy in 2011.
Helping fuel that economic engine is the Arizona chapter of the he Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI).
“HSMAI’s mission is to provide hotel professionals and their partners with the tools, insights, and expertise to fuel sales, inspire marketing, and optimize revenue,” says Joanne Winter, executive director of HSMAI Arizona. “HSMAI is committed to growing business for hotels and their partners, and to be the industry’s leading advocate for intelligent, sustainable hotel revenue growth.”
HSMAI is not new to Arizona’s tourism scene. The Greater Phoenix Chapter was incorporated as a chapter in 1968 and merged with the Southern Arizona Chapter in 2005 to become the Arizona Chapter. The united force has worked well as the 250-member Arizona Chapter has grown to become the second-largest chapter in the U.S. and was honored in 2011 as International Chapter of the Year.
“Our chapter offers members a variety of benefits, including monthly education programs targeted specifically to the sales and marketing and revenue management professional, a variety of networking and fundraising events, leadership development training and community service volunteer opportunities,” Winter says. “The bottom line: We want HSMAI to provide our member companies with added and measurable value.”
That measurable value is exactly what HSMAI leaders say differentiates the nonprofit organization — whose core members are hotel sales and marketing professionals and their partners: CVBs, attractions, restaurants and suppliers to the industry — from other tourism-boosting organizations.
“We serve our members through a comprehensive online Knowledge Center and face-to-face and online educational programs and events,” says Bob Gilbert, CEO of HSMAI Americas. “Our HSMAI University produces between 30 and 40 webinars annually and administers four certification programs for industry professionals. We are the only nonprofit association dedicated to this educational mission with a hotel target audience.”
Like every other industry that is constantly evolving and growing, HSMAI has kept its finger on the pulse of the business to adapt and change with the economy and with the times.
“There is a lot of pressure to deliver increased member value for all not-for-profit associations,” says Fran Brasseux, executive vice president of HSMAI Americas. “HSMAI got out in front of that changing environment nearly two years ago and held numerous stakeholder focus groups to review our member value proposition, and our industry relevance. We listened, we asked questions, and we acted. We reset our mission statement and redesigned our logo. We wanted to ensure it represented not just who we are, but what we do.”
From those meetings came HSMAI’s mission statement: HSMAI is committed to helping hotels and their partners fuel sales, inspire marketing and optimize revenue.
“In line with the new mission, we laser focused our member e-newletter to increase its frequency and focus its content on three key areas – sales, marketing and revenue management,” Brasseux says, “and late last year we also completed a complete makeover and redesign of our hsmai.org website and the HSMAI Foundation Knowledge Center. The work is not done – it is on-going, and the member feedback is excellent, with membership growth, higher program participation and new partners.”
Gilbert says the Arizona Chapter has been producing educational programs for its members for more than 40 years.
“We believe that chapters can produce programs that leverage the interdependence of all those in a market that depend on the inbound corporate, leisure and group traveler,” he says. “Chapters can focus on very specific needs and emerging trends which will help the industry be better equipped to gain more market share and revenue. The hospitality business has been experiencing significant shifts in how hotel business in sourced and how consumers select destinations and hotels for all types of travel. HSMAI is committed to helping sales, marketing, and revenue management professionals stay abreast of the emerging changes and best practices that will enable their success.”
As HMSAI strengthens the knowledge base and performance of its members, the Arizona Chapter is also realizing that there is strength in number, joining forces with other industry groups to build on the state’s success in tourism.
“As a member of the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association (ALTA) and the Arizona Event Industry Alliance (EIA), HSMAI has the opportunity to work with other state-wide meeting, tourism and hospitality industry associations in giving the industry more strength and unity,” Winter says. “Working together, we all make a difference and have a bigger voice.”