Particularly in this age of technology, with new software and hardware arriving on a regular basis to make our hospitality lives easier, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the basics of what we do. One important area that requires constant and close attention is the Sales organization of our hotels. We must ask ourselves: How comfortable am I with the strategy that my Sales team is implementing? How knowledgeable am I about who my Sales team is soliciting for business?
Please do not misunderstand; we are not advocating the stereotypical “what did you book today?” approach that many owners and managers have lived by. Instead, it is our responsibility as the leaders of our assets to be knowledgeable enough about what’s happening in our Sales organization to be able to support, challenge, or even dismantle that organization if necessary. Your contacts, relationships, and general market awareness as an Owner should all play a role in the day-to-day operations of your asset’s Sales organizations. The challenge is how to most effectively channel all of that experience into proactive and productive support for your property’s Sales team.
So what exactly is the role of Ownership in the strategic direction being taken by your Sales function? In a few words, it is support and awareness. Ownership needs to be well aware of the issues and opportunities facing the Sales team. This doesn’t mean that Ownership needs to sit in on Sales meetings, but it does mean that ownership needs to be cognizant of the needs and requirements of their Sales organization, so that they can properly support its efforts.
This knowledge can be communicated in a variety of ways. Whether via asset management, communication with brand management, or even direct contact with property leadership, Ownership should keep itself apprised of property and market factors which may be impacting the performance of the Sales organization. By doing so, Ownership can contribute to the Sales team by leveraging relationships and information that might otherwise not be readily available to the property team. This approach should take place in the form of a committed and connected team member (asset manager, member of the Ownership team etc.) being used as another resource to help to drive top line performance.
As an Owner, there are several key aspects of your hotels’ sales process that you may take a particular interest in:
a. Deployment: Where are our salespeople located in relation to targeted customers?
b. Tools: What are the materials, giveaways, etc. that our salespeople are equipped with in order to maximize their face-to-face time with customers?
c. Physical Product: What do our salespeople really know about our building and its capabilities? Above and beyond the number of guestrooms keys and square footage of meeting/banquet space, do our salespeople know about LEED/Green certification, two-pipe vs. four-pipe status, particulars of the Fire/Life Safety system, etc., etc.?
As Owners, you have hired the individuals or organizations that you feel are best-qualified to manage your asset(s) and maximize performance. In this respect, you have assigned great responsibility to these entities. This does not, however, mean that you cannot or should not take an active interest in the strategies and tactics being employed by your properties’ Sales organizations. As circumstances dictate, it is absolutely within Ownership’s right to challenge or question the brand or property teams to defend their strategies, to ensure a unified approach.
In so many cases, owners of hotels are business leaders in the very communities where their assets are located. As such, owners are in a unique position to support their hotel assets via the business, social, and personal relationships that they have already established in the marketplace. For owners NOT to maximize the potential return from such relationships would represent an enormous missed opportunity.