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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 23, 2008

For Hotels with Limited Service, Fewer than 100 Rooms -
How Do You Determine if You Need a Person Dedicated to Selling?

"It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn't".
Martin Van Buren (1782-1862, Eighth President of the USA)

Most hotels with more than 100 rooms are likely to have one or more people focused on property sales.  Depending on the meeting space or food & beverage options, there may be staff assigned to catering sales as well.  Many hotels, especially rooms’ only properties, have come to rely on their location or brand affiliation.

The question posed above, though is what the factors one needs to consider.  The numbers of rooms, competitive set, your brand or location are all ingredients, but they are not the only factors.

First, ask yourself honestly the following questions:

1. “How is my hotel performing compared to budget? To last year?” Answering these two questions every month will show your level of both planning and of analysis.  Planning, because the budgets should have had detailed forecasting that can be contrasted with the actual results.  Analysis, because the evaluation process will link last year, budget and this year’s performance and should provide a solid understanding of your hotel’s performance on its own merits.

2. The next question is “how is my hotel performing compared to the market?”  Smith Travel Research ( has long been the leader in assisting both individual hotels and entire companies better understand their market competitiveness.  Analyzing only your own hotel’s performance compared to itself does not show the real potential of performance.

3. Is the market changing? Are there more competitors entering the market (regardless of product segment)?   Is the economic environment changing in the community or feeder markets for your hotel?  These should all be part of the annual marketing plan for every hotel and reviewed regularly with action plans identified in the plan.

Second, if the above analysis shows that your hotel appears to be slipping in performance after the above analysis, there are a number of options.  These include comprehensive review of your revenue management strategies to make certain there are no fundamental errors in tactics or pricing.  Working with your brand sales teams if you are affiliated with a franchise or referral group should be a priority to determine if your hotel could better position itself within the brand promotions or contractual arrangements.

Third, if the actions taken in the first two steps do not show actual or anticipated results, it may be time to recognize that your hotel needs a competent and trained person whose primary function is selling the services of your hotel.

Possible Sources and Methods of Recruiting Qualified Individuals

When you have made the determination that there is a need and a position to be filled and a realistic job description complete, the next step is to recruit applicants. 

The following is a list of potential sources and methods.

  1. Promotion from within – this approach has both strengths and liabilities.  If you choose from within, be certain of the drive and sales capability of the candidate in the new role, not their current assignment
  2. Word of mouth via staff – WOM is always an excellent way to identify potentials
  3. Business Colleges and Community or Junior Colleges – there is no such thing as a “typical” student any more.  Many of these students are mid-career and offer maturity, a sense of commitment and drive
  4. Universities – hospitality, marketing and business programs are a potential, both while as students part time (with the right situation and candidate) or as graduates
  5. Night or continuing education schools – similar to #3, but sometimes more vocational in approach
  6. Church bulletins – often provides community tied people
  7. Resources-vendors-sales people – similar to #2 WOM – they know your hotel
  8. Customers referred by present employees – similar to #2 WOM – they know your hotel
  9. Fraternal organizations (Moose, Elk, etc.) – often provides community tied people
  10. Business groups (Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.) – often provides community tied people
  11. Professional associations (Hospitality Sales Management Association International)
  12. National Association for Professional Sales Women, and Sales and Marketing Executives
  13. Social groups, Welcome Wagon, etc. – often provides community tied people
  14. Convention & Visitors Bureau and/or Chamber of Commerce referral – local leadership and potential political savvy
  15. Retired Military – known for discipline and drive
  16. Recent relocations to your area (realtors) – often provides community tied people AND possibly insights to new business
  17. Classified local or regional advertising, including weeklies and special interest
  18. Internet job services – one of the fastest growing, but still needs refinement
  19. Career days in schools
  20. Other properties in town
  21. Other properties in brand or in management company
  22. Trade publications
  23. Search firms
  24. State employment agencies
  25. Temporary help agencies
Recruitment is a critical part of the task at hand, and the next two columns will address the need for The Importance of Meaningful Sales Team Job Descriptions and 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 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  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.


Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE

Also See: 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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