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Lessons from the Field
A Common Sense Approach to Success in the Hospitality Industry
By Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE, September 23, 2009

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Hotel Common Sense –

A Message to General Managers on Creating
Successful Sales Management for 2010


By Dr. John Hogan, CHE CHA MHS, September 23, 2009

In the past six weeks, we have heard government reports of economic optimism and we all hope we have hit the bottom. Headlines from The Business Insider on September 18, 2009, reported a concern that  “despite a few green shoots in the economy and a rocketing stock market, many large companies are still  struggling to avoid bankruptcy, and a new report by Audit Integrity identifies some high-profile names that have the highest probability of declaring bankruptcy among publicly traded firms."

These 10 major international companies include a wide range of businesses, including technology, auto rental, jet engines, communication, marketing, retailing, broadcasting and a major Nevada casino.   We have learned from the US auto and other business examples that a company can successfully reorganize using the bankruptcy laws, but there are consequences and challenges with that approach.

This is not a pessimistic column implying negative sentiments – it is actually just the opposite! 

Most hoteliers are likely finalizing their marketing plans and budgets for 2010 this month for ownership and/or Management Company review and approvals.   In my career, I recall this exercise provided a sense of accomplishment with the annual planning and realistically assessed our goals and potential. This autumn timing was I chose mid- September to facilitate a 90-minute teleconference/webinar on Effective Sales Management for Lorman Education Services

The full title of the program was a bit longer, as it addressed short and long-term planning, forecasting, and budgeting.    In my last column, I covered most of the questions that were reviewed at the end of the session, but there was one key question I deferred to this column because it so essential to ongoing success. 

The question is: Should people in sales ask for assistance from management, or is that considered a weakness?

I find this question is really at the heart of every hotel, be it a bed & breakfast or a major convention facility.

I frequently use quotes in my writings to support my positions and I located an exceptional one this question from Bob Durbin, former Executive Vice President for Sheraton Hotels.

"The General Manager is the #1 salesperson. 

S/he must take part in:

  • guidance and direction of the staff
  • personal involvement with guests and personnel 
  • meeting clients in the hotel
  • calling on at least one potential client daily”     
Durbin’s point is that the General Manager as the hotel CEO should be the ”cheerleader” and the most effective point of impressing a client.

In my career, I have been affiliated in various ways with a wide range of hotel types, brands and sizes.  I have seen some general managers who have chosen to work the front desk many days each week to save payroll and then wondered why their sales declined. I recall many owners of smaller properties (with or without a full time sales staff) effectively splitting their time between operations and sales.

In larger hotels, I have seen general managers pouring coffee in banquets and greeting people in the lobby at evening receptions or breakfast.  I have seen general managers participating in early morning DAILY sales team meetings to show support in challenging economies.

Finally, I would like to share something I observed a number of years ago at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. Opryland had to earn its reputation as a premier major convention hotel and Jack Vaughn was the opening general manager and remained in that position for more than 20 years by his choice.  He earned the reputation as an industry icon in many ways, but the one I will share is about his perspective as the GM as sales asset.

Jack would accompany association executives and the hotel sales manager on property tours, chatting with them about a range of topics.  What impressed me incredibly a time I observed was when he introduced a housekeeping associate who was cleaning plants in one of the lobbies.  He used both the association executive’s and the housekeeper’s names, as he advised the executive that this associate was one of the hundreds of people who would be taking excellent care of their annual meeting in two years.   Jack may or may not have known the associate’s name without looking at the name-tag, (they had more 1,000 staff at the time) but he made a clear and positive impression on both of those people.

Sales includes a number of steps:

1. Finding clients – this can be from a cold call, a phone inquiry, a walk in, a repeat client, a referral, an online response and more
2. Qualifying the prospect or potential sale – asking questions to see how and if your hotel’s service and product is a fit with the client’s needs and preferences.
3. Creating a sales plan – this includes the “how, what, when, why, where, how much” 
4. Executing the sales plan – timing varies with the clients’ needs; a major convention with name entertainment, extensive food and beverage and an offsite event are involved projects that require coordination and time while  renting a meeting room or arranging a block of ten rooms for an overnight is very basic
5. Handling potential objections from the prospect/client – this involves time and knowledge of what your facility is capable of providing and at what price and terms
6. Closing  the “deal”, which means active listening, responding to final questions and then asking for the sale
The most important “step” in successful sales is managing the customer relationship to build long term, repeat customers. This is a critical task for everyone in sales– for repeat business or referrals to others.

Neither Bob Durbin or Jack Vaughn meant that general managers should do the work of the sales team, but they understood the value of the input and occasional presence of the senior executive in sales.

What are you doing at your hotel ?


Feel free to share an idea for a column at johnjhogan@yahoo.com anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements …………. 
And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

Autographed copies of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES can be obtained from THE ROOMS CHRONICLE www.roomschronicle.com and other industry sources. 

All rights reserved by John Hogan and this column may be included in an upcoming book on hotel management.   The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication

John Hogan, a career hotelier and educator, is frequently invited to participate at franchise meetings, management company and hospitality association industry events.  He is a successful senior executive with a record of accomplishment in leading hospitality industry organizations at multiple levels, with demonstrated competencies as a strong leader, relationship builder, problem solver and mentor. He conducts mystery-shopping reviews of quality in operations and marketing, including repositioning of hotels.

Expertise and Research Interest
• Sales Management and training
• Turn-around and revenue management
• Professional Development & Customer Service
• Hospitality Leadership and Executive Education
• Making Cultural Diversity Real
• Accreditation & Developing Academic Hospitality programs

He writes weekly columns for a number of global online services and has published more than 400 articles & columns on the hotel industry.  He co-authored (with Howard Feiertag, CHA CMP) LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES, which is available from info@smartbizzonline.com, ROOMS CHRONICLE www.roomschronicle.com  and other industry sources.  He resides in Phoenix, Arizona and expects to publish in 2009 his 2nd book based on his dissertation – The Top 100 People of All Time Who Most Dramatically Affected the Hotel Industry.

Hogan’s professional experience includes over 35 years in hotel operations, food & beverage, sales & marketing, training, management development and asset management on both a single and multi-property basis, including service as Senior Vice President of Operations in a specialty hotel brand for six years.

He holds a number of industry certifications (CHA, CHE, MHS, ACI) and is a past recipient of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging Journalism, as well as operational and marketing awards from international brands.  He has served as President of both city and state hotel associations.

John’s background includes teaching college level courses as an adjunct professor at three different colleges and universities over a 20-year period, while managing with Sheraton, Hilton, Omni and independent hotels.  He was the principal in an independent training & consulting group for more than 12 years serving associations, management groups, convention & visitors’ bureaus, academic institutions and as an expert witness.  He joined Best Western International in spring of 2000, where over the next 8 years he created and developed a blended learning system as the Director of Education & Cultural Diversity for the world’s largest hotel chain. 

He has served on several industry boards that deal with education and/or cultural diversity and as brand liaison to the NAACP and the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association with his long-term involvement in the Certified Hotel Owner program.  He has conducted an estimated 3,200 workshops and classes in his career. 

Service to the Industry and Hospitality Education includes working with the Educational Institute Certification Commission of the AH&LA, the Hospitality Industry Diversity Institute, the AH&LA Multicultural Advisory Council, the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration, the Commission for Accreditation on Hospitality Management Programs, the AH&LA and AAHOA Education and Training Committees, the Council of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Educators (CHRIE), the International Hotel Show and the Certified Hotel Owner program for the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association.
 

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Contact:

Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE
johnjhogan@yahoo.com

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Also See: Hotel Common Sense - Understanding the Facts for Effective Hotel Sales Management / Dr John Hogan / September 2009
Hotel Common Sense - A Hotelier's Self - Assessment Quiz / Dr John Hogan / September 2009
"A Baker’s Dozen" of Strategies for Hotel Human Resource Managers & Directors / Dr. John Hogan / September 2009
A Baker's Dozen of Strategies in Maximizing Leads and Attendee Sales Potential at your Hospitality Trade Show Booth - part 2 of 2 / Dr John Hogan / August 2009
Increasing Traffic at your Hospitality Trade Show Booth / Dr John Hogan / August 2009
A Sales Self-evaluation test for General Managers / Dr John Hogan / August 2009
Hotel Common Sense – Effective Sales Management: Short and Long-term Planning, Forecasting, and  Expense Budgeting / Part 2 of 2 / Dr. John Hogan / August 2009
Hotel Common Sense – Effective Sales Management: Short and Long-term Planning, Forecasting, and  Expense Budgeting / Part 1 of 2 / Dr. John Hogan / August 2009
Hotel Common Sense -Recognizing There is More than One Approach to Ongoing Success in Building Revenues / Dr John Hogan / July 2009
Hotel Common Sense – A New Look at Awards and Recognition / Dr John Hogan / July 2009
Lessons on Brands and Discounting / Dr John Hogan / July 2009
Hotel Common Sense Using Business Social Networks Productively / Dr John Hogan / July 2009
A Common Sense Review Process for Capital Investments / Dr John Hogan / July 2009
Understanding Values: The Challenge to Identify and Keep Them During Tough Economic Times / Dr John Hogan / June 2009
Personal Stories of Delivering Hospitality and Pride / Dr John Hogan / June 2009
What is Your Definition of Leadership? / Dr John Hogan / June 2009
Examining Why Do We Really Do What We Do? / Dr John Hogan / June 2009
Delivering Hospitality and Pride / Dr John Hogan / May 2009
Act As if You Are Number Two / Dr John Hogan / May 2009
A Baker’s Dozen of Fundamentals for Retaining Quality Staff / Dr John Hogan / May 2009
Customer Relationship Management Requires a Blending of High Tech and High Touch for Optimal Results / Dr John Hogan / May 2009
Do You Know Where Your Customer Is? Or Knowing Where Your Business Originates / Dr John Hogan / April 2009
Understanding what we measure and making it count! Strategies for Hotel Controllers / Dr John Hogan / April 2009
“A Bakers Dozen” of Strategies for Hotel Controllers / Dr John Hogan / April 2009
A Different Appraisal of Our Biggest Challenges in 2009 / Dr John Hogan / April 2009
Reflections: Mentors and Friends - Vermont Hoteliers Borden and Louise Avery and their Son Allen / Dr John Hogan / March 2009
Remember to Embrace the Essentials in Sales; Revenue and net profits can often depend on how one of the most fundamental practices in sales- how incoming phone calls are handled / Dr. John Hogan / March 2009
Getting the Most Out of Your Hotel Franchise Investment; Working With Your Hotel Franchisor for Everyone’s Success / Dr. John Hogan / March 2009
Getting the Most Out of Your Hotel Franchise Investment; Evaluating the franchise business model as a potential franchisee / Dr. John Hogan / March 2009
Getting the Most Out of Your Hotel Franchise Investment / Dr. John Hogan / Dr. John Hogan / March 2009
Four Steps: How to Make More Sales Calls than Any Other Way Or Trade Shows Can Be Invaluable If. . . / Dr. John Hogan / February 2009
A Baker’s Dozen of Strategies for Hotel Chief Engineers / Dr. John Hogan / February 2009
"A Baker's Dozen" of Strategies for Hotel  Banquet Managers / Dr. John Hogan / February 2009
Making New Year's Sales and Marketing Resolutions Real and Practical / Dr. John Hogan / January 2009
Planning in a Challenging Economy - Probing Hotel Expenses / Dr. John Hogan / December 2008
Planning in a Challenging Economy - Fundamentals of Hotel Sales Planning / Dr. John Hogan / December 2008
A Message for Hoteliers: Giving Thanks - and Not Just One Day Each Year! / Dr John Hogan / November 2008
Hoteliers Must Remember the Lessons of Reasonable Care! / John Hogan / November 2008
Enthusiastic and Sincere Attitudes Will Pay Off For Hotel Salespeople / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / November 2008
Unleash the Potential! Recognize the True Value of Your Front Line Sales People / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / November 2008
Defining Hospitality - Readers Respond with their Insights / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / October 2008
Understanding the Value and Power of Breakfast / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / October 2008
A Bakers Dozen of Strategies for Hotel Restaurant Managers / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / October 2008
A Bakers Dozen of Strategies for Hotel Food and Beverage Directors / Hotel Common Sense / John Hoganv/ September 2008
My Definition of Hospitality. What’s Yours? / Dr. John Hogan / September 2008
Principles for Success as a Hotel Manager: 6 Observations on Finding and Employing Problem Solvers / Dr. John Hogan / September 2008
10 Hotel Sales Action Steps to Succeed in Today’s Competitive Marketplace / Dr. John Hogan / September 2008
10 Hotel Sales Mistakes to Avoid in Today’s Competitive Marketplace / Dr. John Hogan / August 2008
Ways to Identify and Build Repeat Guests / Dr John Hogan / August 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Maintaining Relationships Throughout the Organization / Dr John Hogan / August 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Part four: Communicating with Clarity and Candor / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Part three: Using your management style effectively / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Part Two: Motivating the Team / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager Part One: Understanding the Organization / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008 
Updating Hotel Marketing and Sales Strategies Mid Year NOW Is Essential / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
Don’t Underestimate the Impact of the Hotel Sales Office / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
Factors for Successful Interviewing Potential Hotel Sales Candidates / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
The Importance of Meaningful Sales Team Job Descriptions / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
For Hotels with Limited Service, Fewer than 100 Rooms - How Do You Determine if You Need a Person Dedicated to Selling / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
Extending Your Sales Team or Make Travel Agents A Regular Part of Your Sales Programs / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
Finding Business Leads Can Be Easier Than You Think / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
Understanding the Differences Between Marketing and Sales / Dr. John Hogan / April 2008
Identifying Your Customers / Lessons from the Field A Common Sense Approach to Success in the Hospitality Industry / Dr. John Hogan / April 2008
...

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