Carol Verret Consulting 
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FAT, DUMB AND HAPPY – 
The Seasonal Boom and 
Bust Cycle

 Carol Verret / August 2000
.
Most everyone in the industry benefits from summer tourism, with the possible exception of some southern locations and winter resorts.  Preliminary numbers indicate that tourism exceeded expectations this summer as the economy continues to boom and travelers may have complained but paid the increased prices for gas and airline tickets.   Congratulations to all of you who saw rates and revenue increasing and exceeding projections!

However, a rising tide floats all boats and some of your boats will be beached come the end of September.   The answers to the following three questions will give you an indication of how well you are really doing and where you will be positioned in the fourth quarter:
 

1.  What is your sales staff doing with their time?  If your sales staff is busy servicing incoming customers and groups how much of their time is being spent prospecting for new business for the fourth quarter and next year.  I have a client whose Director of Sales when asked when the last time was that she was out making sales calls, responded that she is so busy chasing rooming lists, revising contracts and servicing business in house that it’s difficult to get out or make prospecting calls on the phone.   No one said it had to be easy but it is up to the GM or whomever else monitors sales department activity to ensure that the operation is sufficiently supporting sales and servicing incoming business.  Only by reassuring the sales department that their client’s will be taken care of will they go out on the road and it is up to their supervisor to give them the ‘push’ in the right direction.
2.  What is your current market penetration and yield in relation to your competitive set? When everyone is running full most nights except perhaps Sunday (the rising tide), it is difficult not to look good.  Your market share penetration may have increased slightly but this may only be a Band-Aid and not a cure if your market share was ailing prior to the summer season.  If your market share has increased by a smaller percentage than that of your competitive set, you may have a problem.   If your penetration was below 100% prior to June, what steps have you taken to fix it?  Another important thing to consider, are you giving priority to the customers that will still be there to support you during the off-season, albeit at a lower rate than you might be able to drive from the leisure sector?   This leads to the yield management side of the equation where you absolutely need to control your rate and inventory by market segment.  Have you designated a set number of rooms to market segments that may be lower rated but will continue to use you the rest of the year?
3.  What percentage of your staff is seasonal and will leave prior to the end of your busy season – how many experienced and trained staff will be gone by the end of September?   Unemployment is extremely low and I hear the same lament from General Managers and Corporate Executives – there are few employees available and the ones that are barely fog the mirror.  There are two solutions to this problem.  The first solution involves continuous recruiting, that is, always hiring and always looking out for a good recruit even when you have no openings.  Do you give your business card to every good waitress that serves you and to every attentive retail employee that sells you anything?   If they’re good and are interested hire them NOW.  Even though you don’t have an opening now, you will soon and it’s worth a few extra weeks of payroll to have good well-trained staff.

With reference to the ‘fog the mirror’ issue, whose fault is that?  YOURS, THAT’S WHO!  Generations X and Y are different from the others in that theirs is the first generation not to know unemployment.  Their motivations may be different but once you understand them you can motivate them and you need to motivate them to retain them.  Studies show that these employees remain at jobs that engage them, where they feel that they have input, that their efforts are appreciated working with people that they like and respect. (American Management Association, Generations at Work, 1999) 

First of all you have to provide training that gives them the tools to do their jobs.  It is a chicken and egg question – should you invest in training them when they are just going to leave in six months or will they leave in six months if you don’t train them?    Lack of training is rarely cited by the employee in an exit interview (its hard to know the value of what you didn’t receive when you don’t know what it looks like), but job satisfaction is increased by knowing how to do the job that you are asked to perform.  Think about it.  Furthermore, can you estimate how many guests you may have lost or will lose over untrained and unresponsive staff?  This is one of the factors driving our customers to alternate distribution channels such as those available on the Internet.  What are your franchise guest service scores telling you?

These are some questions to ponder while you are so busy servicing incoming guests and enjoying watching the revenue roll in.  

I am having an enjoyable summer.  I expect this fall, when the tourists leave, one or more of these three issues may come back to haunt you.  That certainly occurred last year when my phone lit up around September.

In the spirit of mellow camaraderie induced by sipping gin and tonics on my patio, I’d like to offer you, my readers, a complimentary 30-minute consultation.  Please respond via email carol.verret@worldnet.att.net so we can schedule a telephone appointment." 

Carol Verret and Associates Consulting and Training offers training and consulting services to the hospitality industry in the areas of sales and customer service.   For a complete description of their services, log onto the web site at http://www.carolverret.com/   

© 2000 all rights reserved 


 
Contact:
Carol Verret
  3140 S. Peoria St, PMB 436
  Aurora, CO 80014
Web Site: http://www.carolverret.com/
Email: carol.verret@worldnet.att.net
Also See: Surf's Up - Ride the Wave or Miss the Boat -The Effective Use of Technology in Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / July 2000 
Measuring Effectiveness of  Hotel Sales Departments / Carol Verret / June 2000
Hotel Sales Training - The Need for Immediate Results / Carol Verret/ May 2000



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