HSMAI Holds First Lodging Chief Marketing Officer Roundtable

  • 02.19.10
The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) hosted its first Lodging Chief Marketing Officer Roundtable in conjunction with American Express on Feb. 1 in New York City.

The invitation-only event engaged participants in an intimate forum about “the new normal in lodging.”

“The discussion was invaluable and participants shared perspectives on the various recovery scenarios and the short-term and long-term impact of the global economy in their businesses,” said Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHA, president and CEO of HSMAI. “Attendees also had rich dialogue regarding the new normal in media including the role and balance of print and digital.”

Lalia Rach, dean of the Tisch Center for Hospitality Tourism and Sports Management at New York University moderated the roundtable discussion. Participants included leading lodging CMOs, industry economists, educators and business leaders.

Jeffrey Garten, professor at Yale School of Management and expert on global business strategy, kicked off the event with a keynote speech summarizing how the global economy and consumer behavior have changed and forecasting emerging economic trends that will likely impact hospitality and travel.

“Economic strength is moving more rapidly to developing countries, where consumer preferences will be formed. Globalization has been a major feature of the background in which your businesses operate, and it will continue,” Garten said. “Global trade is the leading edge to broader exchanges and will impact travel trends.”

Following Garten’s keynote, which was provided in partnership with Leading Authorities, Rach interviewed Jud Linville, president & CEO of American Express, to identify his perspectives on “the new normal” as well as its implications on his strategic outlook, American Express brands and the travel industry.

“We are seeing some spending come back from the depressed levels of last year,” said Linville. “We need to help remove friction and help consumers feel more comfortable. They are very attentive now to how and where they spend.”

Later in the day, a group of industry thought leaders discussed implications of “the new normal” in print, online and other mediums brands use to connect with consumers. David Atkins, president of Digital DNA Infusion; Rob Torres, managing director of travel at Google; Ed Kelly, president of American Express Publishing; and Christopher Frank, vice president of marketing at Global Market Place Insights, spoke about the evolution of dominant media strategies and hypothesized about which strategies would be implemented in the next 18 months.

In concluding remarks, Rach summarized the underlying realities of the new normal as the ‘death’ of conventional wisdom, those standards and assumptions, which in prior economic downturns provided a sense of stability and grounding now are more likely to cause distortion.

 “While it is not new that marketing executives are expected to do more with less, the similarity to the past quickly fades as CMOs are grappling with an ever-evolving digital revolution that has forever changed the consumer, placing a premium on accessibility and collaboration,” said Rach. “The challenge is determining what standards maintain value and which are causing commoditization and stagnation.” 

Rach advised that engagement generally viewed as a B2C activity must expand as a new normal of business to include more constant and consistent interaction of leaders as they grapple with global and local change.


HSMAI is the hospitality industry source for knowledge, community, and recognition for leaders committed to professional development, sales growth, revenue optimization, marketing, and branding. With a strong focus on education, HSMAI has become the industry champion in identifying and communicating trends in the hospitality industry, and bringing together customers and members at annual events, including HSMAI's Affordable Meetings®. Founded in 1927, HSMAI is an individual membership organization comprising more than 7,000 members worldwide, with 40 chapters in the Americas Region.

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