The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and Knowland present The New Sales Team, a white paper that discusses how the evolving tactics of hotel sales teams are in turn changing the dynamic between hotel management companies and owner groups. The new sales team is focused on direct selling, fulfills multiple functions across a tiered organization, and does not rely on inbound leads.
Through interviews with industry leaders, the white paper examines how sales teams are moving from an overreliance on inbound leads to a renewed commitment to hunting and data-driven selling, and how this affects the type of data that sales teams, management companies, and ownership groups need and how they use that data.
Access the full white paper on HSMAI’s website.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the hospitality industry dramatically, decimating revenues, spurring furloughs and layoffs, and creating a level of uncertainty not seen since the Great Recession, sales teams — particularly those within hotel management companies (HMCs) working with owner groups — were already facing challenges before this crisis.
Overly reliant on a strong economy and the resulting abundance of inbound leads, many sales teams had become too large and were not implementing a proactive sales approach. “As sales teams are rebuilt, they are looking much different than pre-pandemic,” said Jeff Bzdawka, CEO of Knowland, a leading provider of data-as-a-service insights on meetings and events for hospitality. “Not only are they smaller, but as they start coming back, it’s not necessarily the same people returning. For example, individuals who may have been very good order takers are not being hired back as salespeople for obvious reasons. There’s a higher-level skill set required today.”
The pandemic has forced a reality check. With necessary personnel cuts based on hotel closures and an extended pause on travel and group for most segments and markets throughout much of 2020 and 2021, properties simply haven’t had enough business to support previously sized sales teams. Within individual properties that may have been operating fairly autonomously, there is now greater HMC oversight.
“We’re really challenging our teams to be creative and find efficiencies to take on more responsibilities,” said Sunny Brewer, senior director of revenue management for Ashford Inc., which provides advisory management services to two publicly traded REITs, Ashford Trust and Braemar Hotels & Resorts, and also includes property management company Remington Hotels. “We’re partnering with our managers to ensure, and develop to an extent, strategies both in the short and long term, and then making sure that they’re pulled through at a tactical level within each hotel.”
To do so, teams need to be able to get granular with the data they are parsing to source the business they want — groups that don’t have restrictions on meetings and are booking corporate events, for instance. “The data has to be very tailored to the audience and customer segment that is a good fit for the hotel and that market,” Brewer said.