By Frances Moffett, HSMAI Editorial Content Director
Over the years, the roles of many professionals in the hospitality industry have evolved, and this has become much more apparent since the beginning of the pandemic. The way individuals are working has changed, along with the methods used to encourage talent to stick around. One of the top challenges impacting hotel sales, identified by the HSMAI Sales Advisory Board, is keeping sellers motivated, and one area the advisory board has been exploring is how the lack of authority among sales professionals may be affecting career satisfaction.
In addition, of continuing importance is the need for cross-training, ensuring sales professionals are well-versed in key marketing and revenue management issues. Recently, the advisory board explored ways to help build authority at work and encourage interdepartmental learning.
On Building Authority
Pat Kobela, CHA, regional director of sales at Chartwell Hotels, led the advisory board discussion. She said, “Oftentimes, various departments provide input about a piece of business, but no concrete answer is given, which leaves the sales manager or director of sales hanging. Someone has to make the ‘executive decision,’ and many times, they are taken to task for it afterwards. During the short-staffed times we are experiencing now, there is no time for that. [We must] review what could have gone better [in those scenarios] and how to improve as a group. The more we know, the better prepared we are to execute.”
Additional ideas from the group on building authority include the following:
- Ensure communication will assist staff with business decisions and allow them to feel empowered to make decisions. Mentorship is key at all levels.
- Constant communication and transparency between departments allows everyone to understand the operations and goals, leading to better collaboration and solutions. When the sales department is part of that and they understand the reasoning behind decisions, the SM/DOS can make better decisions. Be a generalist, with the understanding of a specialist, and know how and when to apply concepts.
- Autonomy is important since some staff may be out of the office due to sickness and decisions need to be made in a timely manner.
- Get back to the basics to ensure team members have a strong foundation to operate from.
- Schedule regular technical training on systems to increase familiarity. The use of technology and mastering the systems potentially allows for easier execution by fewer personnel. Answer the question before it is asked and write it down so everyone can see. The more in-tune the staff is with what is appropriate, the better the decision-making will be.
- Set up training on how to collaborate and work across the team. Consider bringing in a consultant to lead it.
- Promote training on resilience and making difficult decisions.
On Encouraging Interdepartmental Learning
- Many branded properties budget to do programs, usually in the spring and the fall. Take advantage of those.
- Launch a regular lunch-and-learn series with systems.
- Have vendors host a quarterly download on how to use their tool.
- Encourage HSMAI certifications for those who want to expand their skill sets.
- Host weekly team leader calls across departments to limit the silos and help everyone understand the perspectives of those outside their department.
- Build out individual development plans with employees that include cross-training goals.
- Offer shadowing with individual development that interests staff or helps them learn different aspects of the business.
“There is nothing better than a smart salesperson and sales team who can take an inquiry and shape it into a well-rounded piece of business for all departments at the property or ‘sell’ it to a client for a better fit,” Kobela says. “A good SM/DOS should look at all sides when taking a piece of business. Revenue management has become the basis for many decisions, which is appropriate, but at the same time, if there is a compromise to be considered, it can still benefit the hotel as a whole. This is typically how new ideas come around. Then we, as a hotel team, are able to take that new idea or concept and market it both internally among the staff and externally to the universe.”