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You can’t microwave marketing experience

David M. Brudney, ISHC, July 3, 2012

I watched the video interview with great interest.

“They have to build integrated marketing communication plans that optimize digital marketing, public relations, direct sales and all of the online efforts,” said Maureen Callahan, V.P. Marketing, Destination Hotels & Resorts.

NYU’s Dr. Lalia Rach was asking fellow HSMAI Americas board member Callahan about the evolving role of today’s hotel marketing directors. “Directors of marketing today are consummate multitaskers . . . They must have good financial acumen and very good analytical skills . . . They need to know how to communicate with hotel owners, asset managers and other stakeholders,” Callahan said.

And almost as an afterthought Callahan added, “They must be leaders, coaches and mentors to their staffs.”

“Wow,” I said to myself.  “That’s quite an evolution for hotel marketing directors.”  I was reminded of that line from those classic Virginia Slims cigarette commercials, “You’ve come a long way, baby!”

After all, the first generation of hotel marketing directors from the late 1970s and even into the 1990s (myself included) - - had all they could handle managing direct sales while planning advertising budgets, creating packages and developing collateral.

Callahan is a consummate professional, a client, colleague and friend, but I had to take exception with her remarks.

My consulting practice affords me the opportunity to go inside hotel sales and marketing departments throughout the U.S. and outside of it where I am able to observe firsthand the leadership, marketing, analytical and coaching/mentoring skills of today’s hotel directors of marketing.

I find few that fit the profile Callahan described.  Mostly, I find department heads who wear two hats: director of marketing and director of sales.  One thing I’ve found over the years is that good sales producers, good sales directors do not necessarily make good directors of marketing.  It is the exception when someone gifted in sales is able to leverage that ability in becoming successful in the marketing position.

In fact, of the more than 50,000 U.S. properties representing nearly 5-million guestrooms (, the vast majority has just one person responsible for sales and marketing and in the smaller hotels it’s typically the GM.

I find that most U.S. hotels lack the sophisticated resources - - market intelligence, technology support, brand corporate and regional oversight, professional training, and mentoring - - resources provided by many of the major brands and bigger, well-established independent properties.

I find very few sales and marketing directors who possess the skills required to build integrated marketing communication plans, accurately interpret financial and analytical documents and data including price shopping reports, manage online channels and social media platforms, plus that ability to communicate effectively with owners, asset managers and other stakeholders.

“The only source of knowledge is experience” – Albert Einstein

I find also:
  • far too many sales and marketing directors lacking firing line, in-the-trenches experience, who are still learning on the job and very fearful of making mistakes;
  • a new breed of revenue managers taking on more of the sales and marketing directors’ responsibilities and decision making; and
  • GMs unwilling or unsure of placing total sales and marketing ownership on the shoulders of those sales and marketing directors.
That’s truly a ton of expertise Callahan described.  I question seriously how deep the talent pool is to fill those hotel marketing director positions today.  Do we have candidates among the legion of sales managers today?  Are we, as an industry, attracting that type of talent - - talent that will put in those long hours and work for standard industry compensation packages?

In most hotels today those critical sales and marketing tasks are being assigned to a wide variety of individuals: GMs, sales directors, revenue managers, tech savvy sales, catering and conference service managers, or they are simply outsourced to third parties.  Making those decisions on who best to take ownership, how to do it and when could not be more critical or timely.

Booking group room nights is king for so many hotels, especially with group demand returning and opportunities for recovering lost revenues in recent years.  Directors need to make sure hotel sales teams have developed those acquired skills necessary to capture that business now while optimizing room rate and total spend.

If we recruit from industries outside hospitality - - marketing professionals with expertise in digital marketing, social media and packaging with all the financial acumen and analytical skills in the world - - will they be hoteliers first or simply pure marketers?

I’m concerned that these recruited-from-outside directors of marketing may not be bringing that same passion for hospitality necessary; may never have stood at the front desk on an oversold night; may never have learned housekeeping’s challenges in preparing late checked out guestrooms for new arrivals; may never have met with an event planner wanting to renegotiate a contract.  Of even more concern is marketing directors promoted or hired before either experiencing or mastering:
  • bidding on a convention before the association’s board or site selection committee;
  • working a trade show (booths, aisles and floor); and
  • sandwiching a half-dozen quality sales calls between prospect breakfast and lunch appointments - - during a sales trip in a new city

Help is available

The good news is there are qualified outside resources available today for GMs, operators, owners and asset managers to help make sure sales and marketing direction and management is in good hands.  Help also exists with making better-informed, cost-effective decisions.  These resources will assess the sales and marketing operation, evaluate skills and performance, and provide immediate experienced, hands-on, coaching and mentoring - - and implementation when and if appropriate - - for sales and marketing directors and staffs.

These unique professionals bring with them years of experience consulting with brands and independents, both large and small properties, and both major and secondary markets.  They bring knowledge of current industry standard of care, best and worst practices, e-marketing, diagnostic skills, and considerable coaching and mentoring expertise.

For more information on available resources, and how the assessments and follow up coaching/mentoring work, just send me an email at


David M. Brudney is a charter member of International Society of Hospitality Consultants

David Brudney & Associates – - 760-476-0830 -

David M. Brudney, ISHC, is a veteran hospitality sales and marketing professional concluding his fourth decade of service to the hospitality industry.  Brudney advises lodging owners, lenders, asset managers and operators on hotel sales and marketing “best practices” and conducts reviews of hospitality (as well as other industry) sales and marketing operations throughout the U.S. and overseas.  The principal of David Brudney & Associates of Carlsbad, CA, a sales and marketing consulting firm specializing in the hospitality industry since 1979, Brudney is a frequent lecturer, instructor and speaker.  He is a charter member of International Society of Hospitality Consultants.  Previously, Brudney held hospitality sales and marketing positions with Hyatt, Westin and Marriott.


David M. Brudney, ISHC, Principal 
David Brudney & Associates 
Carlsbad, CA 
760-476-0830 Fax 760-476-0860 
(c) 760-994-9266
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Also See: 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

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