Lessons From the Field®: Common Sense Approaches in Hotel Sales It should take two to say NO
How do you decide if a piece of group business is a good or poor financial decision for the hotel? Is it better or worse to have the “bird in hand”, a discounted piece of business or to wait, in revenue management terms, for what could (but is not guaranteed to) be better?
In the mid-1980s, downtown Nashville was a very tough marketplace. While the city numbers were reasonably strong, but most of the group and higher rated markets were near the airport or the beautiful Opryland Hotel, Grand Old Opry and Opryland USA. The 300 rooms Sheraton Nashville would best be described as a “pleasant, business class, middle-aged hotel.” It had two restaurants, a quiet lounge and meeting space that could handle several hundred attendees.
This hotel had a change of owners and sales team. The new team, comprised of an assortment of sophisticated to “down-home” sales styles, decided to embrace a balance of revenue management with survivor tactics. They had a goal of X rooms for groups for each day of the year that was based on history, foreseeable changes in the marketplace and advanced bookings. They did not have the authority on their own to exceed the group targets, but they had both team and individual bonus potentials IF the rules were followed.
It wasn’t easy and it took several months for them to figure out a system that worked. The team of David Livingston, Charlotte Martin, Alton Kelly, Charlotte Scheffer and J.R. Davis discovered that requiring a second opinion on all potential bookings was not the administrative chore they feared. They found this second opinion usually lent an insight that was more profitable for the hotel and met the needs of the clients, while usually qualifying for their bonus potential.
The second opinion was invaluable because it regularly reminded the team of options, which could be considering other dates, creative meeting room set-ups or packaging with other companies. Each of these sales professionals continued their careers in sales, with each rising to the director (or higher) level with different chains and management groups.
The lessons learned included:
- team trust
- learning revenue management is multi-faceted
- better prospecting that led to better group sales
- creativity is very enriching and a growing experience
Sheraton Hotels with Worldwide Awards of Excellence in both Marketing and Public Relations acknowledged the team efforts for their innovative approaches in very challenging economic times several years in a row.
“What are you doing at your hotel, restaurant or hospitality business?
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Getting the Most out of Your Franchise Investment – Making Hospitality More Profitable
Part of the 2011 Keys To Success Workshop Series
KEYS TO SUCCESS is the umbrella title for our 2011 programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings focus on a variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including “HOW TO” articles, HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS®, Lessons from the Field®, Hotel Common Sense® and Principles for Success
Feel free to share an idea for a column at anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements … And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.
John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is Co-Founder of a consortium (www.HospitalityEducators.com) of successful corporate and academic professionals delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today.
www.HospitalityEducators.com is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability. Individuals wishing to contribute materials may send them Kathleen@HospitalityEducators.com. Special pricing is in effect for a limited time that also includes a complimentary copy of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD- A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES.
Consulting Expertise and Research Interest
- Sales Management and training
- Turn-around and revenue management
- Professional Development for the Organization and the Individual
- Customer Service
- Making Cultural Diversity Real
- Developing Academic Hospitality programs
- Medical Lodging Consulting
If you need assistance in any of these areas or simply an independent review or opinion on a hospitality challenge, contact me directly for a prompt response and very personalized attention.
Dr. John Hogan, CHE CHA CMHS
United States – Phoenix, Phone: 602-799-5375