Carol Verret Consulting 
and Training
Training Seminars

The General Manager’s Role in Sales -
Chief Marketing Officer of the Hotel

Carol Verret / April 2002
Chief Marketing Officer – I always liked the sound of that!  Some companies already have that position and most should, especially now that the economy is dictating a move away from accounting driven corporate cultures to sales driven cultures. 

Most hotels went on ‘auto pilot’ when the summer season approached and made certain that the revenue management systems were in place to maximize the revenues generated by peak demand.  This year, leisure travel should recover from its doldrums of the first quarter but spring travel is still forecasted to be down by at least 4% from last year. (TIA, HotelOnline, March 22,2002)  Although drive markets continue to feel the least pain, air travel, while increasing, is expected to be well below the previous two years and this year’s traveler is looking for value in all areas of their travel arrangements.

While the General Manager has always been the CEO of their hotel – to their staff and to their customers -- most have yet to truly use the power of the position effectively to promote sales and assume the role of CMO.  
General Managers who rose through the ranks on the operations side are now under increasing pressure from their corporate office to become actively involved in the sales effort.  GMs that assumed their positions during the ‘boom’ years excel at revenue management but are unsure how to support and monitor the sales effort.  Those that remember the last economic downturn have in many cases forgotten how to do that.

Attending Chamber of Commerce meetings is not enough!  The kinds of Chamber Meetings you attend are more important.  A General Manager once indicated to me that the sales department attended Business after Hours so he felt it was enough.  Wrong!   

I consulted with a hotel whose market share had dived dramatically over a period of about six months.  I requested from the GM all of the materials he had that pertained to his market and I was given a report that was presented at a Chamber luncheon on market shifts in the hospitality industry.  The report indicated that leisure travel in this particular market had declined dramatically due to the economic shifts in their primary feeder market that was Asia and specifically Japan.  However, several large new companies had moved into the area and the increase in corporate demand should have more than compensated for the decrease in leisure.  This GM had attended the luncheon, received the report but the information obviously didn’t pass it to sales as all of the sales efforts were still being directed at wholesalers and tour operators.  The moral of the story is to check the content of the call reports not just the number of calls.   

What is your Market IQ?  Market intelligence or Market IQ is something that the GM is in a unique position to gather.  Do you:  

  • Attend planning and zoning meetings
  • Schmooze the Economic Development people (they do use your hotel when they bring in prospective company’s executives, don’t they?)
  • Participate actively in industry associations
  • Browse the business section of your local paper every day – bankruptcies generate a lot of business
  • Visit your fellow GMs and make a mental note of who is doing business at their hotel that day    
  • Network with consultants (like me) and the business reporters of your local papers to get a broad overview of the market  
A part of developing your Market IQ is to truly appraise your property in relation to the competition.  Have you evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of their department heads and your buddy, the GM?   Ask a friend to stay at their hotel one weekend with a checklist from you to get a perspective on the guest experience at your competitors.  Remember, those of us not in the business think spending another night at a hotel is real treat!  Have that same friend spend a night in your hotel and fill out the same report.

When was the last time you picked up the phone and asked a guest or a corporate account contact “How well are we serving you?”  Do you know not only the names of your top accounts but have you had lunch with your top account contacts?  Do you have your own contacts at that account, one step above the contact of your sales department?

Your top accounts, contacts and guests think that you are the CEO of the hotel – you have the power to make anything right!  Use the power of your position to assist in the sales and marketing effort.  Become the CMO as well as the CEO!

This article includes excerpts from a seminar of the same name presented by Carol Verret to hotel companies and industry associations nationally.  Carol Verret Consulting and Training provides consulting and training services to the hospitality industry in the areas of sales and marketing and customer service.  For a more complete description of the company’s services, log onto the web site Your comments and feedback are always appreciated via email or phone (303) 618-4065.  

© 2001 all rights reserved 

Carol Verret
  3140 S. Peoria St, PMB 436
  Aurora, CO 80014
(303) 618-4065
Web Site:
Also See: 100% Market Share Penetration is Not Good Enough / Carol Verett / January 2002
The Key to REVPAR Recovery –  New Business Development / Carol Verett / December  2001
Trash the 2002 Marketing Plan - And Just Start Over / Carol Verett / September 2001
How to Use Consultants Effectively –  A View From the Other Side  / Carol Verret / August 2001
How Soft Is Your Hotel's Economic Landing?  / Carol Verret / Aprl 2001
The ‘Value Proposition’: Marketing Yourself to Prospective Employees / Carol Verret / January 2001
Generation Y:  Motivating and Training a New Generation of Employees / Carol Verret / November  2000
Why Customer Service Seminars Don't Work / Carol Verret / October 2000
Creating a Culture of Customer Service / Carol Verret Consulting and Training / Sept 2000 
FAT, DUMB AND HAPPY – The Seasonal Boom and  Bust Cycle / Carol Verret / August 2000
Surf's Up - Ride the Wave or Miss the Boat -The Effective Use of Technology in Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / July 2000 
Measuring Effectiveness of  Hotel Sales Departments / Carol Verret / June 2000
Hotel Sales Training - The Need for Immediate Results / Carol Verret/ May 2000

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