The Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) is the premier organization of hotel sales and marketing leaders in the Philippine tourism industry. It is committed to equip its members with tools, insights and expertise to fuel sales, increase market agility, and optimize revenue. It builds partnerships with other tourism stakeholders on projects and programs that advance sustainable hotel revenue growth. Its roster of members counts 126 hotel and resort properties nationwide as of 2021.
HSMA was organized in 1979 from the gatherings of the directors of sales and marketing of the top hotels in Metro Manila. The first set of officers were Melvin Cruz (+) of the Hyatt Hotel as president with Rose Hilario-Libongco of Hotel Intercontinental Manila, Aurora Patricio-Paredes of Manila Hilton, Michael Cuisia of The Manila Hotel and Peter Litgeib of The Manila Mandarin as charter officers.
Hotel luminaries who have held the reins of the HSMA presidency include Maggie Garcia (+), Leny Fabul, Ofri Canlas, Chiqui Recio-Ang (+), Lyn Tamparong, Gami Holazo, Roberto Laygo, Marita Marcos, Margie Munsayac, and Christine Ann Ibarreta (+). Rose Libongco is the longest serving president of the HSMA as she was elected for multiple terms from 1982 until 2010 during some of the industry’s most turbulent times, politically and environmentally.
HSMA’s Virtus Awards
It was during the presidency of Margie Munsayac, current Chair, when the Virtus Awards was launched in 2015 to recognize excellence among sales and marketing practitioners in the hotels and resorts industry. The late Christine Ann Ibarreta raised the idea of having an award-giving body in 2014 similar to the Adrian Awards that the HSMAI (USA) annually organizes. She then proceeded to meet with Jennifer Pochedly of the HSMAI Los Angeles, and upon her return, excitedly met with the HSMA Board. After several deliberations her proposal was approved. For almost a year, the Virtus Awards Committee, chaired by Rose Libongco, conceptualized and organized for the first Virtus Awards.
HSMA’s Pandemic Pivot
In 2020, HSMA found itself in unchartered territory with the coronavirus pandemic that significantly impacted tourism activities globally. But HSMA took one of the most proactive roles in keeping travel and tourism vital in economic recovery with member properties tapped by the government to serve as institutional isolation centers. It also lobbied for the approval of the PhP10 Billion credit facility for micro and small tourism stakeholders under the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill.
HSMA also persisted in forging pathways to help its members weather the effects of the pandemic and build a sustainable and inclusive recovery. HSMA partnered with Philippine Airlines in providing accommodation, at special rates, to their customers – balikbayans and returning overseas Filipinos – arriving on a daily basis. This project has helped member properties secure the much needed guest occupancy during the pandemic. HSMA has also been facilitating bulk room requirements of OWWA for its members who have been arriving in thousands on a regular basis.
HSMA’s proposal to DOT to prioritize hoteliers in the country’s vaccination program due to their exposure to quarantined guests paved the way for them to be classified under the A1.4 category of economic front-liners.
HSMA also pressed on with a myriad of trademark events – HSMA’s tent-pole event, the Virtus Awards, the September Online Sales (SOS) promotions with member properties offering hotel accommodations and F&B packages at 60%-70% off, and an online travel show, GPSTV, that reignited the interest for local tourism.
With the pandemic becoming a thing of the past, HSMA members have adapted to dynamic changes in travel, recreation and celebration trends. A deep familiarity and thorough understanding of the business enabled HSMA members to quickly recognize springboard opportunities and game-changing pivot points to ensure long-term business survival.
Truly, HSMA has come a long way in influence and dedication to the Philippine tourism cause. It continues to be a trailblazer in the hospitality sector, helping the Department of Tourism change the way of doing business in the country’s tourism industry.