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The 2024 expanded board, led by incoming Chairman Kostas Ioannidis, has identified a list of five priority discussion points for H2 and beyond, kick-starting conversations with an upcoming roundtable on the future of the RFP process on May 29th

London, UK – May 23, 2024: HSMAI Europe’s Sales Advisory Board has revealed the hot topics shaping the future of the hospitality sales industry and is calling on fellow members to be part of upcoming discussions addressing each.

The new expanded 2024 board, steered by incoming Chairman Kostas Ioannidis, Sales Director, Global Sales – Europe at IHG Hotels & Resorts, has pinpointed five focal points that it believes are critical to driving innovation and maintaining competitiveness, with topics ranging from the future of the Request for Proposal (RFP) process to the impact of global events on the sector. 

Its hit list of topics to tackle is the result of close collaboration between all HSMAI Sales Advisory Board members since its new line-up was announced at the start of 2024, with discussions accelerated at its first in-person meeting in Stockholm on February 28th

With board members voting ‘The Future of the RFP Process’ as focal point to address in its H1 report, a virtual roundtable on the subject will take place on Wednesday May 29th (15:00 to 16:40 CET). After sharing his thoughts on the RFP process evolution, Kostas will moderate a high-level discussion between senior executives in hospitality sales, taking recent Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) insights into consideration.

He will be supported by HSMAI Sales Advisory Board members including Evert Schuele, Vice President Sales & Marketing at Hurtigruten; Anant Vithlani, Vice President Sales at Strawberry (formerly Nordic Choice Hotels); Kerstin Gibert, Regional Director of Sales Germany, Premier Inn; Jostein Brustad, Vice President Sales, Thon Hotels; Jane Griffiths, Global Sales Director, Clermont Hotel Group; Lisa Schulz, Director Transportation – Global Sales EMEA at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts; and Annie Kristi Korsmo, Director of Sales, Nordic Hotels & Resorts.

HSMAI and the Sales Advisory Board are not only inviting members to register their interest in roundtable participation and supporting other upcoming discussions but urging senior hospitality sales professionals within the association to consider joining the board to play a pivotal role in determining the sector’s future direction.

“At the HSMAI Sales Advisory Europe we aim to intrigue thought and discussion on these key topics, leveraging the collective expertise of the association’s membership and partners. Our goal is also to engage other key industry bodies towards mutually beneficial solutions for our ever-changing industry.”

Ioannidis, Sales Director, Global Sales Europe, at IHG Hotels & Resorts and Sales Advisory Board Chair for HSMAI Europe

The HSMAI Sales Advisory Board Top 5

The board’s H1 2024 report identifies five priority topics to tackle:

  1. The Future of the RFP Process

The RFP process is undergoing significant evolution and the Sales Advisory aims to provide in-depth analysis and guidance on this topic, leveraging support from advisory members and external experts and sources, including the GBTA. Key discussion areas include enhancing efficiency through technology, improving response accuracy, and promoting industry-wide solutions, while strategic recommendations for the hotel industry emphasise innovative pricing models, predictive analytics, and personalisation, including the use of AI in RFP responses. The Advisory stresses the importance of a precise approach to RFPs, utilising software tools like QorusDocs and PandaDoc to streamline the process. Emphasising that innovation is critical, the hotel industry is urged to adopt new technologies and customer-centric pricing to meet evolving guest expectations. They also advocate for decisive and strategic action in rate management and pricing models.

  1. Seller Education

The Advisory is committed to enhancing seller education through targeted initiatives. The goal is to align educational efforts with regional needs, similar to the successful HSMAI Sales Leader Forum held in Oslo in December 2023. There will be a focus on practical training, with programmes focusing on practical skills, industry trends, and innovative sales techniques, ensuring sales professionals are well-equipped to meet evolving market demands.

  1. Creativity in Sales Versus ‘Dry’ Digital/Data-Driven Sales

Balancing creativity with data-driven strategies is essential for modern sales teams. The Advisory emphasises the importance of innovative thinking alongside foundational sales tactics. There is a need for sales professionals to think outside of the box to stand out in a competitive market. This includes finding innovative solutions to client needs and integrating creativity into everyday sales practices Discussions will highlight the need for sales teams to manage their commercial responsibilities effectively, enabling them to serve as trusted advisors to their clients while balancing operational demands.

  1. Customer Expectations, Trends, and Insights

Understanding and meeting customer expectations is paramount, and the Advisory is dedicated to providing comprehensive insights into customer requirements and trends. One proposed initiative is to create an annual customer trends paper, incorporating elements such as podcasts with industry veterans, client interviews, and collaborations with research organisations like STR. Analysing the customer journey is crucial and the Advisory plans to collaborate with other HSMAI Europe Advisory Boards, including Marketing and Revenue, to produce cohesive and comprehensive insights from an international perspective.

  1. Global Events/Geopolitical Impact and Progress Management

While not an immediate focus, the impact of global events and geopolitical factors on the hospitality industry is acknowledged as a significant area for future exploration. The Advisory recognises the importance of understanding and managing the effects of global events and although current efforts are directed away from crisis management, there is potential for future white papers or reports to address these impacts comprehensively.

“These topics, identified and developed by the HSMAI Europe Sales Advisory Board, are essential for driving progress and innovation in the hospitality sales industry. By facilitating discussions around these critical industry issues, the Advisory aims to equip sales professionals with the knowledge and tools they need to excel in an ever-changing market landscape.”

Ioannidis, Sales Director, Global Sales Europe, at IHG Hotels & Resorts and Sales Advisory Board Chair for HSMAI Europe

“I’d like to congratulate Kostas and the Sales Advisory Board on making strong headway with 2024 initiatives in a short space of time. Their efforts in championing hospitality sales excellence will undoubtedly drive the industry forward and I hope, inspire other leaders to join the discussion and the board.”

Ingunn Hofseth, President & CEO of HSMAI Europe

HSMAI Europe’s Sales Advisory is also hosting several Sales Leader Forums in key cities across Europe in 2024. These half-day events bring together off-property sales leaders and others to learn about important trends, critical insights, and best practices – and their impact on hotel teams. Attendees include national and global sales directors, strategic and key account directors, area directors and regional directors of sales.

For more information on HSMAI Europe Advisory Board opportunities, membership, initiatives, and events, email

About HSMAI Europe

HSMAI – Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International – is a global organisation founded in the US in 1927. HSMAI Region Europe is the European arm of the organisation. HSMAI Europe aims to be a key influencer, pioneer and the go-to industry resource for professional development, commercial strategies and sustainability in the hospitality, travel and tourism industry.

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