|Peruse the help-wanted ads for a hotel director of sales position, and one thing immediately becomes clear: They're expected to do it all. These days, employers are looking for candidates who can develop advertising, marketing and business plans; prepare budgets; hire and manage a sales staff; analyze sales and marketing statistics; promote properties; and, of course, sell.|
What the director of sales does varies by property size, type and scope, says Bob Gilbert, president and CEO of Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI). At smaller properties, the director of sales focuses on direct sales and contact with key accounts. At a bigger hotel, the director of sales is responsible for multiple sales reps that have their own market segments. At a 700-plus-room luxury resort, you have everything from the first two types, plus overseeing an ad agency and a PR firm. There's a larger staff to supervise, and the director must understand a broad base of sales and marketing competencies.
Linda Hwong, director of sales and marketing at the Marriott Metro Center in Washington, D.C., and a member of HSMAI's Hotel Director of Sales and Marketing advisory board, adds, It's like being an octopus, where you have eight different arms. They're all doing something different, but it all feeds to the same source.
The director of sales position has grown in scope and responsibility, largely driven by technological advances that have made computer skills rival people skills in importance.
There's been a lot of evolution over the last 20 years, Gilbert says. It used to be the director of sales was there to facilitate leads, including working with current and prospective customers in the local market. It has become almost a science that has to deal with all types of businesses in an effort to maximize profitability.
Old School in a New World
The marketing aspect of the director of sales position in particular has evolved rapidly over the last several years with the advent of the Internet and the use of hotel Web sites as a sales and booking tool. Add to that the importance of search engine rankings and travel sites such as Travelocity and Priceline, and the need for the director of sales to be fluent in the latest technology is obvious.
All of those things have impacted the role of a director of sales and marketing. In a certain way, everything is much more transparent, Hwong says. The customer can now access your information from various points, and so managing those channels has become part of your day-to-day role. It's made your role a more complex as a result.
The technology has been great, she adds. It's helped us to work much more efficiently, and the information that we have available to us just is incredible. It's managing that is now the difficult thing.
According to Gilbert, Technology, if used properly, is an enabler. Five years ago, what was happening on the Internet drove the industry crazy, but consumers loved it. Technology is here to stay. Consumers will find more and more portals to research and buy travel.
But even in these modern times, simply understanding Internet search engines, databases and Web sites does not make an effective sales director. Effective ones know that the old-school skills of promotion, negotiation and closing the deal still matter, as do old-fashioned management skills.
Those skills are equally important, if not more important than ever, says David Renker, director of sales and marketing, Destination Hotels and Resorts. We need directors of sales and directors of sales and marketing to meet with the customer and really help connect "develop a relationship with somebody and connect and help convince them that the product we have is the best product. And that requires good relationship skills. I hate to use a term that's always been used, but it's all about the relationship. We spent a great deal of time talking about relationships. We still feel that's a critical part of the equation.
Hwong says on a property, it's about leading a team. It's making sure they have all the tools and resources they need to do the job. You rely upon your soft skills "managing people and leading them, she explains. By the time you get customer calls, sometimes it's some sort of an issue that needs to be resolved, so more of that soft skill is required.
Time is Money
As the need for a wider knowledge base and skill set grows, so do the demands on director of sales time.
One thing [directors of sales] all have in common: time poverty, Gilbert says. There are so many disparate demands on their time.
Renker agrees, pointing out that their time is so crunched, they are unable to develop the necessary personal relationships with clients.
Compensation also has increased with the responsibilities of the position. According to national surveys conducted by HVS Executive Search, a division of consulting organization HVS International, the average salary for a director of sales is $68,269.98. For a director of sales and marketing, the average salary is $70,344.30.
Compensation has been driven up, Gilbert says. More qualified people are earning bigger bucks. Growing compensation packages could attract more candidates to a career as a hotel director of sales and marketing. But what are hiring managers looking for? Renker suggests that to be successful in the position, candidates must be able to prioritize the most important thing in their day and make sure that the customer comes first.
Things that I look for before I hire somebody is somebody that has the ability to multitask very effectively, Renker says. And at the same time, have the key ability to be able to dig in and understand how the marketing and technology channels work, because there's a lot of detail to it, and you have to delve into some of the detail. You know, in the old days, you really didn't have to do that, but now you have to understand how you access e-mail, databases, what messages you want to put in there, what works, what doesn't work, there's a lot of detail to it.
Gilbert stresses that for some a career in sales and marketing will always going to be rewarding because it is continually changing. It may be harder work because it forces you to be on top of all the latest trends. It carries a tremendous amount of responsibility because you're one of the key revenue drivers for a business unit or an entire enterprise, he explains. But it can be extremely rewarding in terms of the relationships and the successes that you'll see. n
Click here for an exclusive interview with David Fine, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Broadmoor
Thursday, March 08, 2012 by Microsoft OEM Software
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