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Neil L. Salerno, CHME, CHA

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Featured Article

"What the Heck is Hotel Revenue Management, Anyway?"

 

Before You Begin that Marketing Plan

Challenge Your Sales Team; 

Expect More and Get More...

by Neil L. Salerno, CHME , CHA

Back in, what some still refer to as, the good ole days, the hotel sales function seemed simpler than it is today. Sales people, today, have to know more and do more to be successful producers. Competition is at its keenest level since the late 80’s. The current travel market has compacted hotel segmentation, placing higher rated hotels into direct competition with many lower rated segments. Many luxury hotels are temporarily, we hope, directly competing with the mid-segment; and right on down the line. 

We would be hard-pressed to find a manager or hotel owner that is not lamenting over their current average rates as compared to what they were in 2000. RevPars appear to be climbing in some areas, but maintaining RevPar through occupancy, without significant rate increases, means further rate sacrifices and the resulting higher operating expenses.  

The most problematic aspect of our situation is what will the lasting effects be for the near and distant future? How long will it take for management to begin to settle in to current sales levels; how long will they continue to compete by sacrificing rate; and will we live with lower sales expectations because of our current market? Or worse, will some operators apply even more pressure on sales people without providing them with the tools to reach higher levels in tough times?

The true danger of lowering operational expenses and our sales expectations is that some people actually get used it. Left to their own devices, humans tend to settle into routine and create their own level of comfort. Lower expectations usually mean lower results.

Challenging the sales team, when done properly, creates excitement, raises everyone’s expectations, and leads the team to higher performance. Many experts agree that people are capable of rising to levels higher than, even they, may believe is possible, but they need the tools to do it. The keys are providing a clear vision of that higher performance level, refreshing techniques through sales training, and creating good sales habits through continued coaching. 

There are many training/coaching programs available, many of which are affordable and adaptable to your situation. Choose a program that is adaptable to  the various levels of experience within your team. 

Sometimes adding a coach is all that is needed. A hotel coach will help create new higher personal and team goals and provide the continued focus to reach those goals. A coach could give your sales team an outside perspective impossible to get from within. 

Some people believe that a better marketing plan will necessarily result in better sales. This may have been true during the good ole days, but the reality is that people create the plan and people will implement the plan. Unless these people are coached to raise their performance levels, the marketing plan will continue to be a showpiece while collecting dust on the shelf. My advice is to put your faith in people first. Prepare your team for higher achievements. 

Many training companies also provide coaching for the sales team leader to shore-up sales team and marketing management. For a small monthly fee, the team leader’s coach can help with the transition the team for the change to higher performance. Coaching can be by phone, email, and/or in person. General managers who want to stay instrumental within their sales departments often find that a coach can be an affordable way to stay current. 

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