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18th October 2021

HSMA Virtus Awards 2021- A call to action

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The Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) launched the Virtus Awards 2021 in a bid to retain its position as the premiere awards for the sales and marketing sector of the hotel industry.

The Covid-19 pandemic has  rendered billions of lost income to Philippine hotels aside from thousands of lost jobs and job opportunities. Over a year of the longest lockdown since March 2020, hotels have not reached even half of its pre-pandemic sales figures; but, that does not dissuade the HSMA board to diminish the recognition of the tireless efforts of each of their hotels’ sales and marketing teams.

Rose Libongco

“HMA remained bullish and positive throughout 2020 and initiated projects that kept many properties afloat and retained staff. For their valiant efforts, it is but fitting that these courageous hoteliers in sales and marketing be recognized,” stated Rose Libongco, Virtus Awards chairperso

“The Covid-19 pandemic has turned almost every business upside down, especially the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries. Through it all, the members of HSMA persevered and chased dwindling shares amidst the challenges of higher operating costs to abide by required protocols by IATF, DOT, and DTI despite diminished revenues due to restricted markets,” Libongco added.

Amidst the demoralizing scenario, an opportunity arose when early April of last year, the Inter-Agency Task Force for Covid 19 (IATF) issued a directive that all returning OFWs should quarantine themselves for 14 days in designated quarantine hotels. This has given hotels some breathing space in an otherwise bleak scenario made by the prolonged pandemic and the longest lockdown ever in any part of the world.

Gregory Banzon

When that is seen as a mandatory government decree, the need for  awareness of the OFW on which hotel can offer more for their needs became evident. The easing of travel restrictions later in the year, allowing some airline travel but subject to quarantine restrictions, also added more income-producing activity to the industry.

During the virtual launch, resource speaker Gregory Banzon, EVP and COO of the Century Pacific Food Inc., in a presentation he made, expressed that it’s important for the industry to look at awareness as a cue that consumers will need some guarantees to go back to participating in the hotel industry, resorts, and efforts to communicate the health and safety of people is paramount.

Banzon revealed, “As consumers go back over the past few months we started to see their confidence slowly recovering, even despite the second wave of lockdown.”

Still, the loss of income is huge but it enabled some hotels to strategize creatively their sale and marketing techniques employing hotel features that can encourage people  to look their way like health protocols, even the staff vaccination status.

Honoring the heroes of hospitality

Libongco revealed that The Virtus Awards is traditionally a four-category Awards, 

“Last year, however, to be able to address the COVID period, HSMA introduced the Champion of Resilience Awards,  recognizing the performance and strategies from the stories that each of their members had to go through to be able to cope up with the pandemic”

Margie Munsayac

According to Margie Munsayac, HSMA board chairman, they will not deviate from their standard individual categories but will lean on agile and responsible practices for operational resilience in business, a focus on pandemic response.

A rebranded category, the Resilience in Business Award, will meld into the traditional categories and last year’s Champion of Resilience award.

“The greatest quality of hotel sales and marketing professionals in mitigating economic profit is brought about where the prices and the marketing campaign, which is the team award, will also cover marketing campaigns that engage the public, customers, and effectively recollecting the business with his clients and customers his patronage may have been disrupted.”

A flagship product line was also conceptualized, the Survive, Neutralize, Adapt Programs (SNAP out of Covid 19) slogan to help the property to where it is now and where it is headed .

“This special award of Resilience in Business, will all depend on the tourism landscape for next year. And it will evolve into a year-on-year recognition reassessment. when even when we will be already transitioning by 2022,” Munsayac added.

Libongco called out to  the hotels to enlist their nominees

“The heads of sales and marketing departments should form a committee composed of the hotel’s executive team to choose their nominees and work together to accomplish the nomination form. Having a candidate puts your brand out there, and eventually emerging as a winner will speak volumes about your work ethics and service delivery to set you apart from the competition.

Libongco has this message to this year’s nominees:

“Please come out and be recognized. Rise above the difficulties because we were never promised an easy time. But we are gifted with wit, grit, time, talent and treasure. We are looking for the 7th Virtus Awardees. Come, claim your place.”

Deadline of nominations submission is on August 31 this year and judging will be online on September 25. The HSMA Virtuus 2021 awarding ceremony will be held on October 26.


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