Recently, HSMAI (Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International) conducted an informal survey of its membership to better understand how property leadership and property sales teams communicate with one another. While the results were not necessarily surprising, they were overwhelmingly consistent. Salespeople want more information from property leadership and from ownership, and this can be easily addressed.
In the survey, HSMAI asked the following question of its salesperson members: “If you owned your hotel, what knowledge or information would you want your sales team to have?” A sampling of answers reveals the following:
· “More notice when it comes to need times. It is harder to produce revenue in the month for the month. If you know the 3rd quarter is looking bad tell us in the 1st quarter!”
· “I believe that knowledge is power. If I owned my hotel I would share the knowledge on all levels. I encourage my team to learn our revenue strategies and to ask questions if they don't understand. To challenge myself and our DORM so that we can understand where we as a team are not all on the same page. Team work, being positive and assisting each other to see different perspectives are very important in being successful. I would also challenge them to be creative and when discussing a concern to present the solution they believe will work best.”
· “I would make certain that the entire sales team knew it was their job not just to book business, but to book PROFITABLE business. I would also make sure they were taught how to do so.”
While these are just a few examples of the survey responses, they are highly representative of the common thread of the feedback received. It would be very easy to look at the examples above and say to ourselves “that’s ridiculous, I do that with my hotel” or “that’s not a problem here.” Reality, however, may very well look different.
Start with the basics; as a property owner or manager, it is incumbent upon you to go to your Sales team and initiate a conversation about communication. If you are waiting for the Sales team to come to you on this subject, it will never happen. Sit down with your team, find out what’s important to them, tell them that you want to be more inclusive in the interest of supporting their efforts, and let them take over the conversation from there. If everyone is honest with one another, each “side” will end up with a far greater understanding of what the other needs in order to better fulfill their responsibilities. This is the easy part.
The far more difficult piece of this equation is fulfilling your commitment to keep this communication going on a regular basis. The best solution here is not a “check off the box, I met with my Sales team” conversation; rather, the ideal outcome is the creation of an ongoing communication mechanism from which both management and Sales can comfortably and constructively communicate with one another on issues that directly affect the performance of your asset(s). Once again, the responsibility for this lies with you as the property leader.
Just as the examples provided above may seem incredibly basic, we must accept the fact that the concerns voiced by these examples are absolutely genuine. If we are honest and objective with ourselves as property leadership, we know that this gap in communication likely exists in our hotels. Fortunately, it is completely within our control to address this issue as it occurs and to thereby create an even more effective Sales organization.