By: David M. Brudney
Member of Laguna Strategic Advisors
- Given 2015 healthy performance signs, 2016 forecasted, owners and asset managers have concerns over dollars might being left on the table;
- Independent-conducted sales audits can validate owners’ expectations;
- Many of the biggest brands that manage owners’ hotels are reluctant to have independent-conducted sales audits.
I spent some time over the Labor Day Weekend reviewing some of the published articles I’ve authored over the past three decades – – yes, at home the entire weekend after far too much traveling in August. I came across one piece that caught my eye, written back in 2001 (A very good time for that sales audit).
Given the industry experiencing occupancy, a.d.r. and RevPAR growth along with a strong return of group demand – – and continued growth for all four metrics forecasted for 2016 – – now is an even better time for owners, asset managers and operators to authorize independent sales audits- – I prefer to call them sales “reviews” or sales “assessments”.
Owners and asset managers, in particular, are concerned about “leaving dollars on the table” during this renewed strong demand period, and whether or not group sales departments are optimizing fully group room nights, revenues, and total spend, especially now that all should be enjoying what looks like a true sellers’ market.
But new management contracts have empowered management companies – – in particular, the biggest brands that manage a particular hotel for an owner – – to dictate the level of both access and interaction given to the owners. Hence, there is now a strong reluctance for the owner to engage an independent consultant to conduct sales audits, and other reviews and examinations of hotel operations.
Branded managed hotels’ position has evolved to “That’s what you (the owner) are paying us to do.” They claim they already conduct their own internal sales audits.
Granted, litigation between owner and management companies over the past several years most likely has contributed to this change. 14-years ago, when I wrote that article, and was busy conducting multiple sales audits, there was much more openness, transparency, collaborative relationships, between the two parties.
My independent, fresh-set-of-eyes, no hidden agenda reviews were mostly welcomed by management companies, with an attitude of “If we learn something from this audit that will help us become more efficient, more productive, we’re all for it.”
Today, especially, I find much more receptiveness for independent-conducted sales audits with both franchisee-managed hotels and most large independent hotels, resorts and conference centers.
What does a professional consultant bring to the table?
Professional hospitality sales and marketing consultants bring a great deal of experience and expertise from years of conducting sales audits, providing advisory, monitoring, implementation, and mentoring services for both large brands and independents in the U.S. and abroad.
Many have opined on what constitutes standard of care in hospitality sales and marketing, appearing as expert and rebuttal witnesses in disputes between hotel owners and management companies.
To find independent professional hospitality sales and marketing consultants, visit websites for International Society of Hospitality Consultants www.ishc.com and Laguna Strategic Advisors www.lagunastrategicadvisors.com.
What are the elements of the sales audit?
Here are some of the elements contained in a professional independent-conducted sales audit:
- Thorough review of marketing plans, strategy and tactics, and all sales initiatives;
- Direction, leadership, vision of GM and DOSM;
- Booking pace, conversion ratio;
- Proper sales team deployment and account load;
- Sales team and individual booking goals;
- Prospect and client relationship building;
- Outside sales calls; trade shows, client/prospect events;
- Proper RFP and inquiry response time;
- 3rd party, CVB/DMO lead generation;
- Lost business reports;
- If applicable, brand support and oversight.