When it comes to relationship between a Sales Team in a Hotel and the General Manager/Executive Leadership team, there is and always has been a Disconnect at some level. If you think your Hotel Organization, of whatever size, does not have disconnect between these two parties, you are in denial.
What am I talking about here? In short, I am referring to the fact that the two sides are not on the same page. In fact, they are often working against each other. This is not a simple problem that can be identified and fixed quickly. Instead, it has to be a gradual discussion, admittance, and understanding by all parties in order to gain positive momentum which will lead to increased revenue’s and profit. That is the end goal right? Let’s face it; that is what we all want for each property we oversee.
Let me quickly add that I truly believe that this disconnection element I am referring to are not malicious or intentional. Instead, it is something that has just evolved over time in our industry and has probably innocently manifested itself to some level in your organization.
Back to my point about the two divisions not being on the same page: I will focus on the top 2 that I have experienced and witnessed. These just happen to be the ones that I also tried to correct or improve upon in my tenure in various roles as a hospitality professional who has worked in both Sales and Operations on a multi-unit level:
Let’s dig deeper into each one of these 2 topics.
Goals. This can be an array of items ranging from how many prospect calls or maintenance calls to make in a week, how many tentative contracts are established; the number of deals that are closed with signed contracts and so forth. Too often times, these goals are not established in the beginning and there are not clear expectations set for the Sales Manager. Other times, these goals may not be achievable. I.e. setting the bar too high on how many prospecting calls to make. The other area that becomes grey is the definition of each goal. Say for instance, what constitutes a prospect call? Is it an email, leaving a voice message for a prospect, or physically speaking to a prospect via phone or in person? If clear definitions and expectations are not set up or communicated properly, frustration on both sides builds up and sets in. The end result often leads to poor production and results. What areas of goal setting within your organization need improvement? Draw up a list and start with at least one item to discuss this week. This is a work in progress. For long term goal alignment and understanding between Sales and Operations, there must be culture of open communication.
Defining profitable Revenue. There are so many different philosophies in our industry when it comes to defining profitable revenue. The big problem is that within each hotel organization, there are also several differences of opinions when it comes to this topic. Whether we are talking about room revenue and the balance between ADR and Occupancy; revenue in the Food & Beverage Department; or meeting room rental, beliefs vary. Here again, too often there are not clear expectations set from the beginning and repeatedly I have witnessed internal philosophies that change frequently. I call it the “Flavor of the Month.” One month Executive Leadership is pushing ADR. The next month they are pushing Occupancy.
Granted, sometimes external variables such as new incoming supply will lead to redirection as to how to achieve RevPar goals. Overall, however, the playbook for defining Profitable Revenue must start at the top and trickle down to the sales team. Expectations should be in writing and clearly spelled out. They should also remain as consistent as possible and not change like the “Flavor of the Month.” This way, there is no finger pointing if and fact the revenue numbers fall short of expectations for any given time period. What is your company’s definition of profitable business? Does your sales team have a clear understanding of what he/she can book? Does your sales team have clear parameters as to what is expected of them when it comes to quoting rates/prices to a prospective client?
With just a brief article as this, I am simply touching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to setting clear goals and expectations with your sales team. Keep in mind that your parameters and expectations can change with your permission, but at that time, your sales team must be updated as to your new rules. The bottom line is this: If your sales team doesn’t have clear goals, expectations and open lines of communication with upper management, they will become frustrated. This frustration leads to lower productivity or bookings and eventually turnover.
Our industry has high turnover and the Sales Department in our field is not exempt from this statistic. Your clients or prospective clients don’t like it when you turn over a sales person. Clients want consistency and like it or not, they often choose your hotel because of the trust and rapport built with your Sales Person. Simply put, clients don’t understand turnover and quite frankly, they don’t care to understand. They want service and results from your hotel and your sales team.
The old saying goes that people don’t leave a job, they leave a boss. I am going to take this a step further with my own quote: “Hotel Sales People don’t leave a career, they leave a job and they leave that job due to a boss.” Ask yourself, how many of your former sales team members went on to totally different career? I would venture to say, this is a very low percentage. They probably secured another position in the Hotel business. This tells me that Sales Professionals in our field are choosing to stay in our industry, but continually search for a workplace in which clear goals and consistent expectations are mapped out ahead of time and more importantly, communicated as things change.
I will repeat myself in that I truly believe that this “disconnect” epidemic that I refer to is not intentional or malicious. You, as a leader, must break this pattern and take a different approach to how expectations are laid out in your organization.
Albert Einstein Said it best: “The Definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.”
In closing, please note that there are many other reasons why somebody leaves a job, whether that be voluntary or involuntary. I am not that naïve to believe that this widespread turnover in our field is
Strictly due to the “disconnect” theme’s mentioned in this article. My experience, however, leads me to believe that these themes are the leading causes.
A final note: If you are a Hotel Owner and you are constantly changing your expectation/message to your GM and the Sales Team, then Shame on you. Stop this practice today and see your revenue’s skyrocket! For more information on how Jay Hartz can help you improve your sales results and help you retain great sales people at your hotel, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website www.nextgenrevpar.com