Lessons Learned from the Soccer Field. 10 Ways to Develop an Invincible Hotel Sales Team

Growing up in Alabama, football was a religion and we showed our devotion at the altar of the SEC (the Southeastern Conference, not the Securities & Exchange Commission).  You might worship in the church on Sunday, but Fridays and Saturdays were reserved for services conducted on the gridiron.  Football, however, took on new meaning for me more than a decade ago when my niece suited up at age 4 and played her first game of “bunch ball.” In this new “football,” there are cleats but no pads; shorts instead of pants and the ball is round.  Through the years, my respect for the game grew as I noted that there are no time-outs in soccer (except for a very short halftime…no marching bands or baton-twirlers) and the players remain on the field for both offensive and defensive series. Soccer is more finesse than power; more touches (feet, no hands) than tosses. As a result, soccer players have to be agile, swift and above all, well-conditioned.

A couple of weeks ago, after a particularly competitive game, it occurred to me that soccer has a whole lot in common with business. So I interviewed Spencer Ward, coach of the Colorado Real U16 girl’s Athletico team, to get his take. A native of the UK, Spencer started playing soccer there when he was 6, progressed to Academy Level soccer (we know it as semi-pro) and then to coaching both boy and girls teams while pursuing a successful commercial real estate career. And to my surprise, Spencer shared with me that he consciously developed his coaching style to reflect business strategies that he has learned and integrated over the years. “Most of the kids I coach will not make it to pro ranks as the competitive expectations are extremely high,” he said. “It’s important to me to teach concepts that they can use as they grow and mature, not only on the soccer field, but more importantly, in real life.”

The United States Youth Soccer Association celebrated its 37th Anniversary this year. According to its website, youth soccer grew from 100,000 players in 1974 to 1-million players in the early 90’s. Today, US Youth Soccer registers over 3.2-million players annually, ranging from ages 5-19. No doubt, many members of today’s hotel sales teams played soccer when they were younger. And if they had a coach like Spencer Ward, then they have been subliminally exposed to basic business principles as early as kindergarten.  How can we leverage those early coaching strategies to our benefit when assembling an invincible hotel sales team? I asked Spencer to collaborate on a list that will help give you a competitive advantage.

  1. 1.       Building a team. Spencer and I spent much more time discussing the importance of building a good team than we did discussing winning and losing. A team may be a group, but a group is not necessarily a team. According to Barbee Davis, “Teams normally have members with complementary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort which allows each member to maximize his/her strengths and minimize his/her weaknesses. Team members need to learn how to help one another, help other team members realize their true potential, and create an environment that allows everyone to go beyond their limitations.” Spencer emphasized the fact each team member brings a different dynamic to the group. “It’s the coach’s responsibility to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each individual, both physically and mentally, and then to place them in the right positions to succeed.” According to the position played, some players get the ball less often than others, yet each team member is vitally important to the execution of the play. A well-rounded team has bench strength acquired through targeted development of alternate players with an objective of seamless substitution.
  2. 2.       Practice.  Vince Lombardi, the revered Green Bay Packer coach, believed that “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” Spencer agrees. He says that “practice, along with training and fitness” are vital components in determining whether a team can compete at its highest level. And part of that responsibility lies with the team player himself. Spencer wants players that are “full time, full on, learning all the time.” Scheduled practices are just one element of preparation. The players themselves must also commit to maintain their fitness level, to take advantage of additional training opportunities and to devote time to practice outside the regular schedule. Planned practices enable a team to work on drills as well as mental and physical conditioning. Individual practices allow a player to focus more on improving his own individual performance, thereby becoming a more valuable asset to the team. How does this work with a hotel sales team? Provide practice and training sessions for them by incorporating continuing education and role-playing as part of your weekly sales meetings. And encourage them to pursue independent study through webinars and other online educational venues.                               
  3. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. A healthy dose of respect is essential. Spencer discussed how having respect for each other as well as for the competition, officials, coaches and parents creates a well-rounded, mentally strong player. “You don’t have to like someone you work with or for, but you have to respect them,” Spencer said with emphasis, noting that “professional etiquette” is high on his list of must-haves. And for Spencer, if the respect isn’t there, “then you need to move on.” Respecting others often leads to enhanced self-esteem, as the player learns how to be confident, worthy, successful, and admirable…without excessive arrogance.
  4. Communication. In soccer, Spencer wants his players to concentrate on building mental muscle as well as physical prowess. Soccer is more about finesse than power and communication among the players is essential for the perfect execution of a play. Hustling, energetic play is very important on both offense and defense.  Each player has a role: the defenders, the mids, and the strikers. Talking is easy; communication requires a higher skill level. Why? It includes listening. And most people are just better talkers than listeners (especially 16-year-old girls and salespeople). Remembering to communicate in the heat of battle can be darn near impossible. If the team understands that active listening is a vital part of communication, then you’re well on your way to success.
  5. Measurement. Some things stand out in a person’s mind and Paul Sistare’s focus on measurement is one of those for me. Paul’s message as president of the management company he led (and my former boss) was consistent, “If it can be measured, it can be achieved.”  Not everyone is comfortable with this type of scrutiny. Why measure? Numbers help us move from subjective analysis to objective analysis, defining performance and making reality more visible. It’s up to the coach to collect and interpret both team and individual stats relevant to the team’s performance.  With proper communication and mutual feedback, this knowledge helps individuals, teams, and the entire organization grow in the right direction. Additionally, it allows the coach to avert crisis management through the deployment of proactive instead of reactive strategies.
  6. Strategy. The formula for success includes both long-term and short-term strategies. All too frequently, however, short-term tactics hip-check long term strategies, resulting in…you guessed it…a perpetual state of crisis management (see #5). The objective of short-term strategies and tactics should always be compatible with the long-term vision. Listen to the coach, “In soccer, the kick on goal for a score is just the culmination of a play that started with the first move on the ball. It’s all about the development of the play.” A sound strategic foundation, and a commitment to it, is essential to meeting your objectives and achieving success. Making it up as you go along just won’t cut it in today’s competitive market.
  7. Risk-Taking. If you don’t take risks, then prepare to be average. And that’s okay for some people. Just not for members of an invincible team. In soccer, many of the most aggressive, risk-taking players frequently get yellow-carded. Some coaches actually incorporate it into their game plan. My niece, Amanda Dawson, is one of those players. I asked her how she felt about taking a risk. “I play at an equal or greater level of aggression than my opponent. And if that results in getting a yellow card, so be it. I’m willing to take that risk to get ahead in the game.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. The key here is in managing the risk in order to reduce the fear. People are innately either risk tolerant or risk-averse, but we face risk in some form or another every single day. Billy Shankly, the legendary Liverpool FC manager said, “If a player isn’t interfering with play or seeking to gain an advantage, then he should be!” Taking a risk requires mental toughness. A risk-taker must be able to shrug off mistakes, bad breaks, taunts  and lousy calls during the course of a game. Dwelling on them is a mental faux pas. Teach your players how to be brave, tough and aggressive and prepare yourself for the end result. If you’re not allowed to fail, then how do you know when you’re succeeding?
  8. Return on Investment. In competitive soccer, parents make a substantial financial investment and Spencer feels compelled to ensure that they are receiving a return. ROI is the extent to which the benefits exceed the costs and some elements of measurement are subjective.  I went to the experts (team parents) for clarification. “First and foremost, I want to know that Amanda is having fun while playing and that her passion for the game is fueled by her experiences on the field, “ says Mary Dawson. “Next, I measure how effectively she applies what she has learned from competing at this level to her everyday experiences. Ultimately, how she deals with inconsistent referee calls, team dynamics and the inevitable politics of the managing club reflects how Amanda will handle her school work, her personal life and, eventually, her professional life.” In Mary’s opinion, it’s paying off.  Sue Plummer commented on the risk vs. return as it relates to injury. “Though some parents whose kids are playing at the highest competitive level may see the investment going toward a potential college scholarship, they have to face the fact of injury and possibly the end of their child’s playing career.” Personally, Sue was most focused on the investment return directly impacting her daughter, Jenny. “Soccer keeps her fitter and she has developed a ferocious work ethic and discipline, mainly due to understanding that the most rewarding things are those that are the most challenging.”  Sue affirms the “life lessons” ROI, adding that Jenny has learned that “life is not always fair and I can only control what I do, not what others do.” Companies make financial investments in employees from the day they start the search to fill a position. Recruitment costs, base salary, taxes and benefits, office space and equipment, orientation and training all add up to significant dollars. If turnover is high, these dollars go right into the “red” column. Choosing the right person for the job has real fiscal implications. We measure the financial investment in our sales team in concrete ways like room night production and revenue growth. Still, the intangibles must be considered: Are they having fun? Is the team in demand (market value)? Are both personal and team objectives being achieved? Do they have the opportunity for professional and personal growth?
  9. 9.       Coaching. Each player is different and coaching styles must vary. There is no better tool for improving performance than understanding and ministering to an individual player’s needs. What makes a good coach? First and foremost, knowledge of the game, from basic skills to more advanced theory, plus the ability to clearly and effectively communicate that knowledge to the players. Next, staying up-to-date on the latest innovations. A great coach listens with an open mind to new ideas from peers to players and he motivates behind a positive attitude and enthusiasm for the game. The best coaches focus on performance goals, not outcome goals. According to Spencer, most coaching manifestos don’t even mention winning. And win or lose, a great coach acknowledges the successes as well as the failures. As a leader, a coach must be prepared to be a disciplinarian, setting up rules and taking action when the rules are compromised. Above all, the coach must set a good example. Inevitably, the players mirror the coach.
  10. Game Plan. Coaches start each season with a playbook, much like a hotel’s business plan. A playbook contains scripted plays designed by the coaches to maximize their team’s competitive advantage. The hotel’s playbook is its business plan which also includes the budget, marketing plan staffing guidelines and capital expenditure plan. Once the playbook is complete, a game plan is developed for each week’s opponent. Coaches reach into the playbook to extract the plays (strategies) that give them the best chance to win the game. In a hotel, segment strategies are like game plans. Each should have a clear message, measurable objectives, a focused plan of attack and realistic, achievable expectations tied to the hotel’s budget.

 

Is your sales team invincible? In today’s leaner workforce, we are all expected to do more with less…a time when “invincibles” really shine and their impact is felt company-wide. Don’t expect them to just show up on your doorstep, however. They are in high demand and must be pursued; once hired, nurtured. “Invincibles” are strong, positive, vocal…visionaries who can see the big picture and motivate others.  They are our future leaders. So to end, I turn once again to Billy Shankly, “I want to build a team that’s invincible, so that they have to send a team from bloody Mars to beat us!”  Amen, Billy.

Wanted: Revenue Manager with a Rock & Roll Heart. 5 Essential Traits

For years, hotels staffed in an orderly, traditional fashion:  General Manager, Director of Sales, Front Office Manager.  Almost two decades ago, the Revenue Manager burst onto the scene and, as distribution channels expanded and pricing became more complex and transparent, there was an exponential increase in the Revenue Manager’s value.  The early Revenue Managers sat in their dark,  back-room cubicles processing data, analyzing statistics, running a mountain of reports, finally emerging with the hotel’s rate strategy….which the General Manager and/or Director of Sales either accepted or rejected.  Give Revenue Manager‘s green eyeshades and they became boring Bob Cratchit clones. As I look around today, I see too many Bob Cratchit’s masquerading as Revenue Managers: hardworking, underpaid clerks. Nice enough, but not lighting up the world.

 I want a Rock & Roll Revenue Manager!  What is this new species, you ask?  It’s a person who still does all the clinical data stuff but who is also responsible for developing and engaging social media channels,  maintaining  key account relationships with the OTA’s,  enhancing the hotel’s website, influencing SEO. Someone who can successfully multi-task with an iPhone and an iPad while reclining on a cloud. Why Rock & Roll? It’s an attitude, a philosophy, a way of life. Mick Fleetwood said, “Rock and roll is passion, commitment and spirit.”  I want that in a Revenue Manager. Too much to ask? Let’s explore.

There are as many definitions of revenue management as there are Republican presidential candidates.  Technology advances have made monitoring the competitive set, adjusting on-line strategies, serving up inventory and rates, and evaluating results a whole lot quicker, easier and more accurate.   A hotel’s success today depends on a seamless strategy across all distribution channels including group.  Who best to handle this than the Revenue Manager?  We simply need to stop stereotyping this position.  Some hotels have approached this opportunity with an open mind and have combined their Director of Sales and Marketing positions with that of the Revenue Manager. All egos aside, others would not think of having the Revenue Manager report to anyone except the DOSM. After all, revenue generation is the DOSM’s ultimate responsibility. Others companies have elevated it to an Executive Committee position. What about you? Are you ready for a Rock & Roll Revenue Manager?

How do you know an R&RRM when you see one? Look for these 5 essential traits:

  1. They think their job is a lot of fun. You remember fun, don’t you?  Sometimes cranky bosses suck the fun right out of the workplace. An R&RRM is vibrant, enthusiastic and doesn’t let a ratty old pessimist spoil the day.  The R&RRM thrives on a fast-paced, competitive work environment and they’re in it to win it. In fact, for them, it’s a lot like a gambling junket to Vegas every single day. The R&RRM’s are playing the odds, and the old, dependable forecasting rules have changed. To them, fun at work is not a myth but their reality.
  2. They relish risk-taking. R&RRM’s embrace the philosophy of high risk = high reward. In the finance world, pursuing a riskier investment strategy generally results in a much higher return on your investment. With the wholesale rate reductions that occurred in our industry in 2007-2009, the hotel industry has a lot of ground to make up. Even with ADR in some markets recovering at a double-digit pace, rates are still not close to 2007 levels. R&RRM’s fully understand what we mean by “value proposition.”  They recognize that the lowest rate does not always reflect value in the guest’s mind (and it doesn’t do much for your profit line, either). R&RRM’s rarely develop strategy based on price point alone; in fact, they are generally the first in the marketplace to introduce a rate increase. And they are savvy enough to do it by market segment and by demand. Risky…you bet! And if you don’t have the stomach for it, then an R&RRM is not for you.
  3. They’re a little rebellious and like to go against the grain. R&RRM’s aren’t “yes” people and they aren’t here just to take orders. Be prepared for them to challenge the conventional way of thinking. They have done the research, watched the market and they are giving you the most comprehensive revenue enhancement advice you can get…usually with a little twist. This may not always be comfortable for conventional managers. Just remember, the title GM or DOSM doesn’t automatically make you Miss Cleo. If you want your Revenue Manager to perform at an optimal level, avoid knee-jerk negatives and ask questions to clarify how the recommendations were developed. Remember, this is what you hired them to do; otherwise, why bother filling the position with a Revenue Manager. Just hire an analyst.
  4. They exude confidence and are comfortable and articulate in a team environment.  They are not simply clerks, providing research for others to make important business decisions that impact the future of the hotel. R&RRM’s are integral partners with the entire revenue-generating team and are valued for their insight and advice. They can be counted on to provide creative, sometimes unusual, solutions for problem-solving though they may not always follow the usual structure when doing so.
  5. They embrace creativity and dream big. R&RRM’s have elevated visions of success because they know how to seize the moment (see #2). And they are arrogant enough to believe that their hotel should be the market leader. Therefore, they are always searching for the best niche, that subtle point-of-difference…anything that gives them an advantage. And they are intuitive enough to see it before their competitors because, let’s face it; most of the hotels in the comp set don’t have an R&RRM. 

Are you ready for a Rock & Roll Revenue Manager? Only you can decide. In today’s competitive environment, everyone is looking for an edge. I’ll take mine with a little moxie. “It’s only rock and roll but I like it.” Sing it, Mick!

And the Beat Goes On…Raise Your Rates Now!

Yesterday, Glenn Haussman’s column in Hotel Interactive, “Why Experts Are Begging You to Raise Rates,” added to the rhythmic drumbeat being heard throughout our industry.  I wrote an article on the same topic last week, citing research presented by hospitality heavy hitters from around the country.  Thanks, Glenn, for keeping the pressure on those who are risk averse when it comes to raising rates.  Revenue management principles remain the same yet many in our industry are too timid to move the rate quickly and efficiently when demand (both in the markets and at their hotels) supports the decision.  I see this especially prevalent with group business.  It’s time to stop emulating Jimmy Neutron (just because your friends are named Cliff, would you jump off them?) and become the leader in our comp set.  Sure, we may make a few mistakes, but the revenue stream improvement when we are right will more than make up for it.  Count me in!

If You’re Going To Panic, At Least Panic Constructively: Raising Rates in a Turbulent Market

Cathy Enz, I could kiss you! During the Cornell Hospitality Research Summit last month, Cathy, a Cornell professor, delivered results from her seven-year study of the hotel slump in the U.S. She found that hotels that held rate or priced above their comp set had predictably lower occupancies. But the real kicker: their bigger RevPAR gain more than made up the revenue loss. Bottom line: “Deep discounting doesn’t do much.”

Even the Wall Street Journal is weighing in. An article in October’s Money Hunt, “Raising Prices Pays Off for Some,” Emily Maltby highlights the conundrum facing everyone with a product to sell: Raise prices? Lower prices? Let them ride? In this article, only 12% of the small business owners surveyed were raising prices.  A whopping 88% were either lowering prices or holding firm. Research published in the McKinsey Quarterly reveals that rushing to lower prices, even if it attracts more buyers, generally doesn’t put a company ahead. And here I was thinking that the hotel industry was the only one with prices dropping faster than a cliff diver in Acapulco (though not nearly as gracefully).

Remember when you first heard the term “yield management”? Later, along with a little tweaking, yield management became “revenue management” and, lately, I’ve heard the term “revenue optimization” thrown around. Bottom line, isn’t it all about selling rooms at the right time, in the right place, to the right people, with the right length of stay, at the right price?    

I understand that this sounds all well and good in theory. But let’s face it—with staff cut-backs and everyone expected to do more with less, research, analysis and strategic planning may be taking a back seat to answering the phone and checking people in. It seems as if each market has a hotel who thinks they can steal business by lowering rate. When everyone else follows suit, they drop their rates once more. They continue with this strategy until the entire market finally fits Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. 

Some markets have been seeing recovery both in rate and occupancy though in the last couple of weeks, economic research firm e-forecating.com, in conjunction with STR, announced that the Hotel Industry Pulse Index dropped in September. Evangelos Simos, chief economist of e-forecasting.com is concerned. “September’s report gives us pause and provides questions to the sustainability of the U.S. hotel industry recover.” In other words, it ain’t over yet. 

So, if you’re going to panic, at least panic constructively. Step back, take a deep breath and consider these suggestions:      

Avoid thinking like Jimmy Neutron.  Jimmy: “But dad, all my friends are gonna be there!” Hugh:  “I know, son, but if all your friends were named Cliff, would you jump off them? I don’t think you would.”  In other words, just because hotels in our comp set are lowering their rates, it doesn’t mean we should lower ours, too. We have access to rate-shopping tools designed to monitor comp set pricing tactics.  Though handy, sometimes we become too reliant on the data alone, resulting in pricing decisions based on what the competition is doing, not necessarily what is best for us. Stop allowing the competition to control your strategies. Use Revenue Management 101 to move rates higher when it’s right for you.    

Value Rules!  Let’s take a look at a study recently conducted by Epsilon, a leading marketing services firm. Only a third of the people they surveyed were sure of where they wanted to stay when making a hotel reservation. The number one buying point for all of the customers they surveyed was price. Not that four-letter word RATE. PRICE. Providing value through creative packaging doesn’t mean you have to compromise on rate. The dictionary defines value as “the worth, importance or usefulness of something to somebody.” Create unique meeting packages, value-driven IBT packages and dynamic leisure packages comprised of items that are of significance to the market segment being targeted. When describing them, use benefit statements to reinforce their value.

Channel Management has never been more important. And you won’t hear me go on about dumping the OTA’s. Goodness knows we’ve heard enough about that lately. It’s all about where you distribute your inventory, its value on that channel and, think like an operator here, the profit represented by each booking. It’s the mix that matters. Keep in mind that the only part of revenue that you can take to the bank is the profit.  

We’re not in Kansas anymore. There’s no “waiting until we get back to normal.” This is it, Dorothy.  Refrain from depending on strategies that were working two years ago. Rate management has become a game of who blinks first. Make adjustments for shorter lead times, different arrival/departure days and more diverse booking channels. Booking windows are much shorter now with last minute deals as common as knockoffs in Chinatown. When making decisions, remember Wethern’s law: Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.

Reports of rate and occupancy improvement are welcome news but a sustained recovery is dependent on the decisions we make now. It’s time to stop cannibalizing the market and work together to recapture the pricing power that we abandoned in alarm over declining demand. Continuing to participate in mindless price wars is not helping your business which means it’s not really helping the economy either.

Seasonal Summer Resorts and the Winter Blues

“Summertime and the living is easy…” classic Gershwin lyrics from Porgy and Bess.  And for many of us with hotels and resorts in summer destination locations, the living just got a little more difficult.  Once the leaves start changing colors and the local weather forecaster suggests a sweater in the mornings, the temperature isn’t the only thing dipping.  So is demand.

What can we do to lessen the pain?  Let’s take a look at a study recently conducted by Epsilon, a leading marketing services firm, and reported in HotelMarketing.com.  Only a third of the people they surveyed were sure of where they wanted to stay when making a hotel reservation.  The number one buying point for all of the customers they surveyed was price.  Convenience of the location was second and, for those still uncertain, reputation came third.  These customers said that they are also highly influenced in their decision by friends and family, with information from travel review sites and brand websites contributing factors.

With this in mind, here a few suggestions for tackling the Winter Blues:

  1. Create value-driven packages for both group and transient market segments.  The customers surveyed said that price, not rate, drove their decision.  Many people (including myself) enjoy traveling in the off-season precisely because of the value.  Keeping this in mind, let’s look at examples:  Unique group packages.  This strategy actually works year-round but it is especially important in the off-season.  Meeting planners work with a budget and an all-inclusive package means no surprises to spoil a successful event when they are handed the final bill.  And I’m not talking about the usual, “everybody has the same,” group packages that perhaps you and everyone else in your comp set are offering.  Spice the packages  up a bit and be highly descriptive.  Consider conference dining and breaks.  It’s a lot more cost effective and enables you to provide more bang for your planner’s buck.  While you’re at it, take advantage of “affordable positioning” to target groups that might not even consider your area during peak season.  Dynamic value packages for the transient markets. There are a couple of ways to approach this:  loss leader pricing that includes an upgrade option or full on packaging.  At a condo hotel in Branson, the “Dinner and a Movie” package was a big hit with families. If you have an on-site golf course, what about unlimited golf every day?  Any cost is incremental and the value is outstanding.  Consider special incentives for state residents (or tri-state residents) to capture the drive market.  People who fly?  What about pre-loaded metro cards as part of their package?  A hotel in Ocala, Florida, utilized backyard marketing strategies and created a series of wine dinners that included an overnight stay.  These dinners became so popular that they filled all of the available seats within a few days of each announcement.  If your hotel has a brand affiliation, take advantage of off-season opportunities utilizing rewards from your loyalty program.  According to Epsilon, over 80% of the loyalty club members surveyed said that being member helps sway them in their decision to stay at the chain.
  2. Focus on your website and social media channels. Your website and Facebook business page are a gold mine for communicating with both past and potential guests.  Ensure that they reflect your hotel’s personality.  Wall postings and customized tabs can be used to post reasons to visit during the off-season and use lots of pictures.  Encourage guests who have stayed outside of peak season to post their experiences and get a dialogue started.  Customers have said that a convenient location is important to them.  Highlight your location by posting a map with nearby activities that may be overlooked in peak season:  museums and art galleries, concerts and fall festivals (corn maze, farmer’s markets).  Offer last-minute specials that are really special and limit the availability.  Base it on something amusing and unexpected, for example the rate equals the temperature of the day for the first 10 people who book with a special code or who call a special number.  Consider using a customized tab to communicate special offers to groups as well.
  3. Promote through e-mail. The Epsilonsurvey revealed that customers prefer email communication.  They are interested in hearing about sales or discounted offers (it’s about the value, remember?) and amenities at the hotel (again, the packaging opportunity).  Sweepstakes or contests designed around information adapted to their interests are also highly appealing.  Your Facebook business page is the perfect outlet for this.  An email promotion and/or a Facebook posting can drive traffic to a customized landing page with all of the details.
  4. Respond to postings on travel review sites. And not just the bad reviews.  Research by PhoCusWright reported in The Sun Herald, reinforces the fact that guest reviews are now one of the most dominant forms of social media when making travel choices.  In taking a more optimistic view, this is a great opportunity to establish a relationship with your guests.  Thank those who have taken the time to compliment the hotel and its staff.  Answering negative reviews quickly and professionally demonstrates that you are listening to the guest, reinforcing the fact that your guest is appreciated and valued.  In the Sun’s article, Amelie Hurst, a spokesperson for TripAdvisor, says that there is anecdotal support that a hotel’s response to a negative posting can have a greater impact on a traveler’s impression than the review itself.

Like these ideas and want more?  Get the scoop about Amanda Dennis and her 30 years of experience in sales and marketing strategies, revenue generation, e-commerce and social media at her website, www.ajdassoc.com.  Follow her blog by clicking on the “News” link or access it through Facebook and Twitter.  All you have to do is “like” her.  Prefer a phone call?  She can be reached at (720) 379-3058.

A Consultant?! Our Hotel Doesn’t Have the Money for a Consultant! Five Reasons Why a Consultant Is Your Best Investment

In today’s hospitality world of shrinking revenues and,  even more troubling, shrinking profits, a consultant may be seen as luxury…nice to have but not a real necessity.  With lay-offs, cut-backs, consolidations, and hiring freezes, how can you afford a consultant?   It’s easier than you think.  The investment you make in a consultant can pay you dividends in the long run.  Here are five reasons why a consultant may be the right choice for you now.

  1. You need a quick fix. A consultant can work with you to identify your biggest opportunities and develop plans for immediate impact.  Do you have a clear and well-defined plan for the transient market segments as well as the group segments?  Are you getting your fair share of business on-line, both from your own website as well as the TPI’s?  Are you using social media effectively?  How well are you managing on-line reviews from your customers?
  2. You’re not sure if your team is performing at an optimal level. Sometimes even the best teams can become stagnant.  A fresh set of eyes can result in an infusion of new ideas.  Give your team a partner to assist them in identifying the gaps and in developing solutions that revitalize your efforts both in sales and marketing and in operations.
  3. You need to fill a vital position. When business was good, you could afford to take your time in filling a position vital to the hotel’s performance.  Not so much anymore.  Though you may receive hundreds of resumes, it is still important to find the right fit for your hotel and your team.  A consultant can fill that void by assisting you in sourcing the right candidate while giving leadership and direction to your team during the search.  Productivity remains strong and the pressure to simply fill the position is replaced with a commitment to find the right person.
  4. Your strategies are not working. The market is suffering, competition is fierce and you just can’t seem to get market share to move in your favor.    Budgets have been slashed and each expense is reviewed with a magnifying glass.  Maybe now is the time to shake things up!  The most effective strategies today are those that combine sales and marketing strategies across all channels.  Still doing things the traditional way?  Break the mold of traditional thinking and try new ways of presenting your hotel to the customer.  A consultant with a proven track record in today’s market can guide you through this process.
  5. You’re in a transition stage. A stable asset is important to the potential sale of hotel and financial institutions have a vested interest in maintaining the value of a property especially when foreclosure is a possibility.  A consultant can help ensure that your asset continues to perform at the highest level possible during these troubled times.

The hospitality business has entered a new phase.  While others are waiting for things to get back to “normal” others are creating their own “new normal.”  Don’t be left behind.  Leave your traditional way of doing business for a moment and consider the advantages of resources you may have never thought about before.  This is an investment that yields both short-term and long-term gains