A Very Good Time For That Sales Audit
By David M. Brudney, ISHC, September 2001
When is the best time for hotel owners, operators and lenders to contract
for an independent, comprehensive sales and marketing audit? The
answer? Anytime is the time. A good sales audit is appropriate
especially when hotels and resorts everywhere begin to experience the full
impact of a soft economy - - a sharp decline in business travel, a reduction
in attendance, rescheduling or cancellation of corporate meetings.
Along with the traditional “belt tightening,” operators need to make certain
nothing is being overlooked in sales and marketing.
Isn’t it the operator and/or management company’s responsibility to
audit sales and marketing and why does sales require an audit separate
from operations? Stakes are too high today and hospitality
sales and marketing has become much more sophisticated. Sales and
marketing expenditures average between 5 and 7 percent of total revenues
with many operators demanding a 20-to-1 ratio, revenues v. expenses.
Operators, by nature, tend to become too enamored with their press clippings
and over time can develop an unhealthy “know everything” attitude.
Given today ‘s competitive climate, vigilante consumerism, Internet shopping,
the cost of sales and the staff turnover factor, owners and operators are
served best by bringing in a professional consultant with a “fresh set
of eyes” to conduct a truly independent audit. This is not a job
for accountants and out of work general managers. Only hotel marketing
consulting specialists who’ve earned their stripes should be conducting
Owner concerns, questions driving need for audit. Here
are some examples of reasons why owners and operators have agreed to comprehensive
What can the consultant “uncover” from conducting the audit?
Owner and operator not in agreement over property’s positioning
Chain’s sales and marketing support programs and services fully optimized?
Yielding and revenue management systems in place and effective?
Data base management and mining resources in place and effective?
CRO and aligned GDS exceeding expectations in the delivery of room nights
Sales department deployed, equipped, funded, directed, productive and monitored
Thousands of future definite and tentative group room nights on the books,
verifiable and authentic?
Sales, catering, convention services and reservations departments meeting
all industry standards?
Would another brand help deliver new and better business, greater occupancy
and drive rates?
Audit Benefits. Perhaps the greatest benefit of all following
a comprehensive audit is the peace of mind owner and operator receive from
the consultant’s final report card and the attestation that the sales and
marketing operation is in good shape, in good hands and performing at a
very high level. Recommendations are made and many times the consultant
is engaged to facilitate specific implementation and monitoring.
Here are some further examples of how clients have benefited from sales
Sales staff too engaged in reactive selling.
Sales files marked “dead,” failure to follow up on general inquiries, lost
business, former hot prospects, turned over to new, dynamic outsourcing
firms to convert into fresh leads and actual definite business.
Sales staff improperly deployed.
Missed opportunities for cross-selling, rebooking and potential referrals.
Absence of a strong, effective public relations program.
Critical markets underdeveloped, e.g., SMERF (social, military, education,
religious, fraternal), leisure.
Who pays for these audits? Typically, it’s the owner.
I believe the operator should pay for the audit because it is in the operator’s
best interests to have periodic independent sales and marketing reviews.
Any good operator should welcome such an audit and adopt any and all specific
improvement recommendations that may be justified.
Lender for multi-million dollar application on a luxury mega-resort delayed
in opening, required independent attestation as to the veracity of half-a-million
future group room nights. Hotel passed with flying colors.
In consideration of a multi-million dollar refinancing loan on a mega-hotel,
lender required an independent evaluation of the hotel’s sales and marketing
operation. Hotel received outstanding rating.
Owner/operator of a large, chain-affiliated airport hotel used an independent
sales audit to trigger a major redeployment of the sales team and a new
commitment to group room nights growth. The hotel is experiencing
its third consecutive year of significant improvement in both rate and
Owner of a full-service, flagged, upscale hotel in a secondary market had
serious concerns about the brand’s ability to deliver higher-end business
and leisure guests and contracted for a full sales and marketing audit.
Sales staff received high marks, general manager was reassigned and a change
in flags is pending. In addition, the owner uses a brand new checklist
whenever visiting and reviewing the property.
This article appears in the September 15, 2001 issue of Lodging Hospitality
||David M. Brudney, ISHC is a veteran sales and marketing
professional with four decades of service to the hospitality industry.
He is the principal of David Brudney & Associates of Rancho Palos Verdes,
CA, a hospitality marketing consulting firm in business since 1979 and
a charter member of International Society of Hospitality Consultants.
Previously, Brudney held sales and marketing positions with Hyatt and Westin.