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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, May 30, 2008

The Importance of Meaningful Sales Team Job Descriptions


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"Should you fail to pilot your own ship, don't be surprised at what inappropriate port you find yourself docked."
                                                        Tom Robbins {American Author}

My last two columns have discussed decisions to be made if your hotel needs a professional totally dedicated to the selling of property services and potential sources on where to recruit from.

A further critical element that needs to be part of the process is exactly what is expected from your sales professional.   I have had a number of readers email me questions the past few weeks that relate to that point exactly – either they have just begin a new job and do not know where to begin or they are interviewing for a hotel sales position and their interview was uncomfortable because there was not a clear plan for what they would be doing.

Job descriptions aid in the hiring process by defining the specific criteria needed to effectively fill a position. Not only do they assure the proper criteria are being considered, but they aid in keeping all interviews as objective as possible. They provide the necessary criteria on which to structure the interview itself and assure all applicants of being evaluated fairly and equally. They may also provide legal protection to the property and interviewer alike by defining the specific skills required by an applicant to qualify for the job.

It is the responsibility of the general manager and sales director (if applicable) to develop job descriptions for every position in the sales office.

Today, regardless of the size of a property, many sales department heads have the title of "Director of Sales."  This can help position your sales representative as an equal when competing with other hotels.  It is prudent to be certain that your sales staff is trained well enough to be able to compete, as a title alone does not make up for inadequately prepared person. Additional sales personnel (except clerical) may use the title of Sales Manager. This gives greater dignity to both positions and makes each more effective in dealing with their clients.  A job description also clarifies the functions of each position.

The size of the Sales Department is dependent on the size of the hotel; however, at the least, the Director of Sales should be given whatever some administrative assistance if at all possible to maintain an effective program, such as correspondence, computer or function book entries, answering the telephone, messages, filing, etc. This assures that the sales representative is spending the majority of time "selling" and bringing in revenue to the property.  A properly written job description for a sales administrative assistant would define these functions.

The following pages provide sample job descriptions for a Director of Sales and a Sales Manager (or Sales Representative). Please remember that your may vary in needs and specific duties and that these are offered as starting points and suggestions only.  We have found that there are many properties that have titles that do not actually tie into the functions or duties of the person. We urge prudence and caution in titles – make them meaningful!
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Position Description

Title:  Director of Sales and Marketing
Reports to:  General Manager

Position Summary: 
Identifies, develops, and maintains property sales and marketing objectives, plans, and programs in accordance with the hotel's mission statement. Oversees the Sales Managers, Catering Managers and support staff as appropriate.

Tasks and Competencies:
Assists hotel management by acting as "first contact" with all outside creative talent (i.e., photographers, graphic artists, printers) to insure that the target market and image positioning is clearly communicated to all involved in the creation of collateral sales materials and advertising campaign strategies. 

  • Maintains high visibility in the surrounding community and in the hospitality community as appropriate within the brand or ownership group.
  • Maintains efficient sales office procedures for productive use of staff time and insures the maintenance of accurate and updated account files and follow-up procedures.
  • Monitors and directs sales leads to outside sales managers, provides motivation, support, encouragement, and direction to all members of the sales department. Makes face-to- face sales calls.
  • Assists in the creation of the Marketing and Sales plans.
  • Maintains all sales systems, such as sales records and reports, conference calendar, traces of history and potentials, logs of groups not previously accommodated and mailing lists.
  • Develops design of new programs and campaigns, designed to develop additional sales from the various market segments.
  • Ensures the prompt and systematic servicing of all business accounts (i.e., tracing, booking, contracting, communicating with hotel departments, and following up with group for feedback and future bookings).
  • Identifies and analyzes competition, both locally and regionally.
  • Works with brand and management company team to insure optimum results in cooperative sales, marketing and advertisement campaigns
  • Must be service oriented to potential guests and fellow hotel staff members
Pre-Requisites:
  • Education:  College degree in business management, hotel management, or marketing preferable.  Successful hospitality or sales careers can enhance this.
  • Communication: Must be able to speak, read, write, and understand the primary language(s) used in the workplace and by guests who frequently visit the workplace.
  • Experience: Previous hotel-related experience, sales management experience in hotel or service industry, experience in budgeting and business planning.
  • Physical: Requires manual dexterity, grasping, writing, standing, sitting, walking, repetitive motions, visual acuity, hearing, writing, and excellent speaking ability.
  • Technological:  Must be competent in computer skills (word processing, spreadsheets, data base).  Background in automated sales office systems is helpful. 
  • A track record of successful customer service 
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Position Description

Title:  Sales Manager
Reports to:  Director of Sales or General Manager

Position Summary: 

  • Identifies, develops and maintains property sales objectives, sales plans, and programs in accordance with the hotel's mission statement. 
  • Outside sales calls are a priority in this position. 
  • Must have a vehicle to use for outside sales calls that is in good condition, insured, and the person must have a current driver's license.
Tasks and Competencies:
  • Maintains high visibility in the surrounding community and in the hospitality community as appropriate.
  • Maintains efficient sales office procedures and insures the maintenance of accurate and updated account files and follow-up procedures.
  • Directs sales leads to outside sales reps, provides motivation, support, encouragement, and direction to all members of the sales department. Makes face-to- face sales calls.
  • Maintains all sales systems, such as sales records and reports, conference calendar, traces of history and potentials, logs of groups not previously accommodated and mailing lists.
  • Designs new programs and sales campaigns, to develop additional sales from the various market niches.
  • Ensures the prompt and systematic servicing of all business accounts (i.e., tracing, booking, contracting, communicating with hotel departments, and following up with group for feedback and future bookings).
  • Identifies and analyzes competition, both locally and regionally.
  • Follows the Sales and Marketing plans
  • Must be service oriented to potential guests and fellow hotel staff members
Pre-Requisites:
  • Education:  College degree in business management, hotel management, or marketing preferable.  Successful hospitality or sales careers can enhance this.
  • Communication: Must be able to speak, read, write, and understand the primary language(s) used in the workplace and by guests who frequently visit the workplace.
  • Experience: Previous hotel-related experience, sales management experience in hotel or service industry, experience in budgeting and business planning.
  • Physical: Requires manual dexterity, grasping, writing, standing, sitting, walking, repetitive motions, visual acuity, hearing, writing, and excellent speaking ability.
  • Technological:  Must be competent in computer skills (word processing, spreadsheets, data base). Background in automated sales office systems is helpful.
  • A track record of successful customer service

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Job descriptions are only a part of the recruitment and interview process, but are critical to setting expectations and preparing for accountability of all parties.

The next column will discuss ideas on choosing the right candidate in: Factors for successful interviewing potential hotel sales candidates


Feel free to share an idea or to contact me regarding consulting and speaking engagements at johnjhogan@yahoo.com anytime and remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense. 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication 

All rights reserved by John Hogan.   This column may be included in an upcoming book on hotel management.

John 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.  He holds a number of industry certifications 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 ongoing involvement in the Certified Hotel Owner program.  He has conducted an estimated 3,100 workshops and seminars in his career.  He served as senior vice president for a client in a specialty hotel brand for six years.

He has published more than 350 articles & columns on the hotel industry and is co-author (with Howard Feiertag, CHA CMP) of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES, which is available from a range of industry sources and AMAZON.com.  He resides in Phoenix, Arizona and is finalizing his 2nd book based on his dissertation –     The Top 100 People of All Time Who Most Dramatically Affected the Hotel Industry.

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Contact:

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

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Also See: 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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