Hotel Online Special Report

Hotel Common Sense
Everyone Should Know What
the Sales Department Does


by John Hogan, MBA CHA MHS, September  2004
Nothing ever comes to one that is worth having
except as a result of hard work.
Booker T. Washington 
We all want to be treated like a VIP – it is in our nature. When we think of a favorite restaurant, most of us will likely recall a place where the food is good, the value is fair and the service is memorable. We like to go to a place where they use our name (remember the theme song from CHEERS?) and where we are made to feel “special.”

Guests choose hotels in a similar fashion. They choose a specific hotel because it was great the last time they were there or they choose a brand because of consistency and they feel truly welcomed.

It may be the primary responsibility of a sales manager or perhaps general manager to “sell” in a formal method the services of a hotel, but the entire staff must know what is involved.

The entire staff must know what was promised to a guest, whether it is a group meeting staying for a week using meeting space and banquets or an individual guest staying only overnight.

While this sounds elementary, there are so many unnecessary problems that hotel staff and guests face because of the lack of effective communication. Hotel owners and managers need a strong sense of priority to honor the commitments made by the sales team. If that guest is satisfied with the ways the hotel has met its’ commitments (ranging from parking to group blocks to extending check-out), then the hotel manager or sales person now has an excellent opportunity to get a repeat booking immediately. For this to happen, though, the operation team must communicate what happened during the guests’ stay- good, bad or ugly.

Effective and complete communication between sales and operations is essential for long-term success. This means that the GM or sales team should meet at least quarterly with operational departments. These meetings need not be long – under 30 minutes – but should include the following with line staff, such as cooks, wait staff, housekeepers, desk staff, accounting, engineers, etc.;

  1. How groups and individuals book at the hotel
  2. How much time and effort it takes to get groups
  3. How future and repeat business depends on service
  4. How the operations staff’s responsiveness is essential to total guest satisfaction (remembering the indifference factor discussed in the last chapter)
  5. How the market is competitive
  6. How each staff member makes a difference in sales and service
Improved compensation and benefits depend on profitability and satisfied guests.

The sales team has to “sell” internally to the rest of the hotel staff as well as to potential guests.

Think Tank 
Questions of the day

These questions are offered to stimulate discussion about the way we do business. There is not necessarily only one “correct” answer – the reason for this section of the column is to promote an awareness of how we might all improve our operations. Consider using these or similar questions at staff meetings encourage your team to THINK!

1. When was the last time “Sales” was discussed at a general staff meeting in a positive way?
2. Are there any financial or other incentives offered to any staff members for referring or delivering business to your hotel?
3. How much of your current business is repeat customers? If you don’t know, is there a good reason? (A reason could be roadside properties that have almost exclusively one night business )
4. Does your staff know why groups are in your hotel? This knowledge can tremendously help their service attentiveness.

Feel free to share an idea and contact me at 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 or of Best Western International.

John Hogan, MBA CHA MHS is the Director of Education & Cultural Diversity for Best Western International, the world’s largest hotel chain.  Best Western International has more than 4,200 hotels in more than 80 countries and is one of the worlds most established and recognized hotel brands, founded in 1946 in California.

He serves on several industry boards that deal with education and/or cultural diversity including the Hospitality Industry Diversity Institute, the AH&LA Multicultural Advisory Council, the AAHOA Education and eCommerce Committee and is the Best Western liaison to the NAACP and the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association with his ongoing involvement in the Certified Hotel Owner program.

He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts and an MBA from the University of Northern Washington. His professional experience includes over 30 years in hotel operations, food & beverage, sales & marketing, training, management development and asset management on both a single and multi-property basis. He is a Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA), a Master Hotel Supplier (MHS) and is a past recipient of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging Journalism. He has served as President of both city and state hotel associations.

John’s background includes teaching college level courses as an adjunct professor for 20 years, while managing with Sheraton, Hilton, Omni and independents hotels.  Prior to joining Best Western International in spring of 2000, 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 has conducted an estimated 3,000 workshops and seminars in his career to date.

He has published more than 175 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 on from HSMAI and other industry sources. 

He resides in Phoenix, Arizona and is finalizing work on his Ph. D. which includes a 2nd book – The Top 100 People who Dramatically Affected the Hotel Industry.


John J. Hogan, MBA CHA MHS
Director, Education & Cultural Diversity 
Best Western International

6201 N. 24th Parkway, 
Phoenix, AZ 85016-2023 
Phone 602-957-5810; fax 602-957-5815

"...we all need a regular dose of common sense "

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