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Neil L. Salerno, CHME, CHA

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


Some People Welcome It, Some dread it

Many Effective Hotel People Thrive on Change

By: Neil Salerno         

With great respect for Stephen Covey, his best selling book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” has been my mantra for many years. It’s truly an amazing book. Respectfully, I submit “Welcome Change” as another habit which I believe effective people share. Truly effective people continually seek opportunities to improve their lot in business, and in life, through change.

Being a long-time advocate of change, I have always encouraged people to question successful and some not-so-successful programs and procedures; then make changes to improve results for the future.

Without the willingness, more so, the eagerness to change, nothing improves. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you always got”. Improvement can only come through change. The status quo should never be good enough; no matter how good it is.

Great organizations like Google, EBay, and many others, are constantly “reinventing themselves”; making new and exciting changes to improve their products. The great forward-thinking minds with these organizations have dedicated themselves to improving their services by never resting on their current successes.

There have been many Dramatic Changes in the Hotel Industry

Because of many talented people, the hotel industry has changed considerably over the past thirty or so years; woe-be-it to those who didn’t change with it.

Today, our industry is far more complicated and sophisticated than it was just a few years ago. Many bright young people are questioning the way things are done and contributing fresh new ideas to improve stale old procedures; the job of management is to embrace these new ideas and move forward. If we pay attention, we can learn a lot from them.  

Through the years, many positive changes came in the form of sales and marketing techniques, but the face of the industry has changed as well.

In my early years, the industry was very much like a big “boy’s club”. It was truly rare to see a woman in any kind of management or sales position. That changed considerably during the ‘70’s and 80’s. Thankfully, our industry discovered that someone’s sex has nothing to do with their talent or abilities and women discovered the many opportunities available in an industry with such explosive growth.

During the 80’s, the industry introduced the concept of “branding” with the development of hotels labeled and designed to serve specific market segments. This change helped to revitalize an overbuilt, under utilized, industry of the early 80’s. It literally opened many secondary and tertiary markets throughout this country and abroad. The many talented people, who visualized this movement, changed the face of our industry. This was revolutionary change.

Some of the most exciting changes came in the area of hotel sales and marketing. We’ve come a long way since the time when the largest part of the sales job was to make as many cold sales calls as possible every day. In those days, we didn’t know any other way to solicit business. It seemed like a good way to keep people busy and it did force sales people to make new contacts, but we always felt that there had to be a better way to get business; we just had no idea how.

It may be difficult for many of you to believe this, but a mere thirty years ago, many prospects had no idea why we were even calling on them. Of course, many of us sales people didn’t either. We finally learned that cold sales calls were a waste of valuable time; we learned to research prospective clients; account map client companies to find additional business contacts; and that our existing files were a huge resource for future business.

Before the day of the office computer, (no, dinosaurs weren’t walking the earth) most of us worked on the highly technical IBM Selectric typewriter (many of you have probably never seen one). Before the computer, we had no acceptable way to maintain data bases of current and possible clients, but we had paper files galore. Computers, fax machines, cell phones, and the Internet changed our lives and the way we conduct business.

There have obviously been many changes in the way we prospect and solicit business. Many of these changes belong to progress; people who were not satisfied with the status quo; people seeking to improve the way we do business; people who welcomed change.

Communicate with your hotel team

Communicating with your team stimulates an exchange of ideas and ideas create change. I love training new people because they question everything. Discard your natural human tendency to etch procedures in stone. Eliminate comments like “That’s the way we’ve always done it”. Help people to embrace change in their work lives by encouraging new ideas and experimentation. Create a change-friendly atmosphere and reap the benefits.

Creating a change-friendly atmosphere requires that leaders need to occasionally put aside their personal preferences in favor of new ideas and techniques emanating from the team. For some old-timers, this is very difficult.


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