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David M. Brudney, April 29, 2013 "42", the new movie about Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947, moved me so much that I put aside writing my promised follow up piece (Face-to-Face Will Never Become Obsolete) on doing business face-to-face. Jackie was the agent of change in baseball and beyond the game in the civil rights movement, the advent of corporate America diversity, as well as the landscape of our very own hospitality industry. Scenes from "42" brought back memories of my early experiences traveling through the South in the early '60s as a guide in the tour bus business. I dropped out of college and went to work for Greyhound Highway Tours.My first big trip was escorting a 40-day journey billed as the Spring Flower Tour of the South that took us across the Southwest, through the heart of the Deep South, finishing in Washington, D.C. during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. What an educational experience for a college dropout, born and raised in Northern California, whose only knowledge of life in the South was from books, magazines and movies.  
Watching “42” reminded me of those things I saw with my own eyes when traveling the South: public drinking fountains and restrooms marked “Colored” that you see in the movie, riding in city buses with African-Americans sitting in the back and going to a movie theater and seeing the “Colored” sign pointing to balcony-only seating.
 
And I cringed during the part of “42” when a Philadelphia hotel GM met the Brooklyn Dodgers team bus and stopped them from checking in.  As long as Jackie was on that bus, the entire team would be turned away.
 
Changes in the hospitality industry
 
I left “42” thinking also about the progress and changes in the hospitality industry and how business in general has evolved from when it began for me a half century ago.

I thought of the Penn State School of Hospitality Management students to whom I spoke last fall (Key Lessons Shared with Future Hoteliers at Penn State). I wondered if those students - - and other new generations of hoteliers - - will see “42” and recognize and appreciate how much the country and the hospitality industry has since changed.
 
Those too young to have lived it and those curious enough to learn more about that era need only watch the current AMC series “Mad Men.” Business entertainment was very different from today. The three-Martini, three-hour lunches with wine and desserts were standards, especially when making sales calls on clients and prospects in New York. I never smoked, but I carried with me at all times a gold-plated lighter so I could always light up my guests at breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Hard to imagine today, but back then we mimeographed for document duplication, reservations came through telex machines, and IBM Selectric typewriters were the latest in technology.
 
My time in hotel sales came before the hotel business became the business of hotels. Complimentary rooms, meals and other favors were given to clients indiscriminately. There were no hotel asset managers “watching the store,” and owners were primarily absentee landlords. The GMs were kings.

But there was much progress to be made. When I began my hotel career as a sales representative in the mid-1960s, the clients and prospects were all white men aged 45 to 65. Minorities were nowhere to be found. Women in the business were mostly secretaries. The emergence of non-white, female, younger clients and prospects didn’t occur until the late ‘70s and well into the ‘80s.

I have a photo on my wall taken at the 1969 national sales meeting of what is today Westin Hotels. Two Asian men and two white women stood out among a sea of white male sales professionals.
 
How far we’ve come
 
It was a time before the dawn of vertical marketing. Today hoteliers target previously overlooked and underserviced niche markets, special interests groups and more diverse clientele. Major hotel chains create specific websites now for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community - - unfathomable in the ‘70s.

No doubt hotels have advanced, becoming more adaptive to guest tastes and preferences, while those running them initiated greater guest engagement and improved guest-friendly facilities and services. Along the way we’ve also become more cost conscious and bottom-line driven - - deservedly so, it hates me to add.

Last January I attended my first Professional Convention Management Association convention in decades and was taken by the change in attending members from my first PCMA in ’69. Hundreds and hundreds of women and minorities, aged 25 to 45, passed in front of me enroute to general sessions, hybrid and other breakout sessions.

It was a welcomed sight after decades navigating that sea of older white males.

Let’s all agree there’s still more to be done with both clients and hotels. And I’m sure Jackie Robinson would agree hotels and corporate America need more diversity, most especially at the corporate level.


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David Brudney & Associates – www.DavidBrudney.com - 760-476-0830 - david@davidbrudney.com


David M. Brudney (David@DavidBrudney.com, 760-476-0830) has become a charter member of Laguna Strategic Advisors (lagunastrategicadvisors.com) and was a founding member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ishc.com). Brudney is a veteran sales-and-marketing professional concluding his fifth decade of service to the hospitality industry. Brudney advises lodging owners, lenders, asset managers and operators about hotel sales and marketing best practices and standards of care, and conducts reviews of sales-and-marketing operations throughout the world. Brudney is a professional speaker, teacher, mentor and sales trainer. Previously, Brudney held sales and marketing positions with Hyatt, Westin and Marriott.


David M. Brudney (David@DavidBrudney.com, 760-476-0830) has become a charter member of Laguna Strategic Advisors (lagunastrategicadvisors.com) and was a founding member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ishc.com). Brudney is a veteran sales-and-marketing professional concluding his fifth decade of service to the hospitality industry. Brudney advises lodging owners, lenders, asset managers and operators about hotel sales and marketing best practices and standards of care, and conducts reviews of sales-and-marketing operations throughout the world. Brudney is a professional speaker, teacher, mentor and sales trainer. Previously, Brudney held sales and marketing positions with Hyatt, Westin and Marriott.

Contact: 

David M. Brudney, Principal
David Brudney & Associates
Carlsbad, CA USA
(T) 760-476-0830 (F) 760-476-0860
David@DavidBrudney.com www.DavidBrudney.com
 
www.lagunastrategicadvisors.com Also See: Face-to-Face Will Never Become Obsolete / David Brudney / March 2013

Key Lessons Shared with Future Hoteliers at Penn State / David Brudney / January 2013

Even Smaller Hotels Must Plan Their Work and Work Their Plan / David Brudney / September 2012

You can’t microwave marketing experience / David Brudney / July 2012

Collaborative Selling Necessary with Meeting Demand Returning / David Brudney / May 2012

PCMA's Successful Experiment With Hybrid Meetings / David Brudney / March 2012

Mike Leven Bullish on Las Vegas Group Demand / David Brudney / December 2011

Optimistic Forecast Bodes Well for U.S. Hoteliers / David Brudney / October 2011

Paid Search Producing Positive Results for Hoteliers / David Brudney / August 2011

It’s Time to Revisit the Art of "Check-Building" and "Add-Ons" / David Brudney / July 2011

Potential Business Lost by Hotel Sales Department Interruptions and Lack of Focus / David Brudney / June 2011

That Commitment to Excellence is Harry Mullikin’s Legacy / David Brudney / May 2011

Hybrid Meetings: An Idea Whose Time Has Come / David Brudney / April 2011

Next Gen Hotel Sales Pros Hungry for Storytelling / David Brudney / March 2011

Upselling Works Best Upclose and Personal / David Brudney / February 2011

Adapting to Change: Hotel Sales Professionals New Year’s Checklist / David Brudney / January 2011

Hotel Sales Professionals: Would You Buy What You Are Selling? / David Brudney / December 2010

Meeting Planner Voices Concern over Demand Return / David Brudney / October 2010

Value of Face-to-Face Meetings Resonates Even More Today / David Brudney / September 2010
Expect Hotels to Pare Back on Perks in 2011 While Implementing Modest Increases in Room Rates / David Brudney / September 2010
Good News for Meetings-Driven Resorts: Site Inspections and Bigger Group Bookings are Back! / David Brudney / August 2010
Kimpton Is Bullish on Fourth Quarter 2010 / David M. Brudney / June 2010
Landmark Decision by Arbitration Panel on Aviara Resort / David M. Brudney / April 2010
Group Business Comeback in the Cards / David M. Brudney / March 2010
Applying Five Tenets of Hotel Sales and Marketing in These Tough Times / David M. Brudney / January 2010