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April 6, 2017

Internal Disruptors

There is a lot of talk these days about the impact of Airbnb and OTAs on hotels. But what about internal disruptors that affect the booking engine of the hotel?  I’m referring to the meetings, activities, and even behaviors that keep the sales team away from securing business for the hotel.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not suggesting a ‘no meeting’ policy for the sales team.  They, like every employee, are valued members of the organization and need to be informed on what is happening within the hotel, the future direction, and the plan to get there.  They need to be involved in training, team building exercises, and town hall presentations just like every other member of the team.

What I’m referring to are meetings that are detailed operational meetings, especially those longer than 30 minutes.  Employees feel devalued by lengthy meetings that often veer off topic and cut into the time needed to get their work done.  The current management book craze uses phrases like ‘scrum’ meetings that are short, to the point, and are usually conducted with everyone standing.

The very nature of the hotel industry requires a lot of meetings because of the need to communicate so much information that is detailed and full of nuances that vary by customer.  It is important to evaluate the content carefully and determine if every member of the sales team really needs to participate, or creatively plan other ways to share pertinent information without the need for all of the team to be physically present.

Lobby duty and Saturday coverage for sales managers are two activities that also fall into the distraction category.  Rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach, why not consider each situation individually, factoring in the sales manager’s territory to determine when they need to be available for their clients.  For a sales manager, it is critical to be accessible when their clients want to buy.  This means that social catering sales managers may need to work weekends and have other days off during the week.  Weekend site inspections by meeting planners are often the norm for resort hotels and again, may require a change in schedule for group sales managers.

Rather than participate in lobby duty, why not institute a policy that 30 minutes before a site inspection, sales managers are in the lobby to greet all guests arriving at the hotel.  This will ensure that when the client does arrive, they have a personalized greeting from their sales manager.  While it is critical that they are part of the overall hotel team, it is even more important for the entire hotel to understand the potential financial impact of having a sales manager away from the ability to communicate with clients, especially during the traditional ‘prime selling time’ for their particular market.

Meetings and lobby duty are easily seen and adjusted, but what about the subtlest disruptors of behaviors that get in the way of getting things done?  Gossip, unnecessary bureaucracy, confusion, and silo mentality all distract employees from doing their jobs and lead to a loss of productivity.  Whether the whole team is engaged in these types of behaviors or there is just one individual who is a disruptor, the role of leadership is to get behind what is happening and resolve any and all issues as quickly as possible.  Clearly, this can occur in other areas of the hotel and not just the sales and marketing department, however, with the current and future financial livelihood of the hotel within their hands, distractions and disruptors in the sales department are usually very costly.

Leadership’s role is to not only review processes and procedures but also to look at people and behaviors.  Just like some procedures need to come under the microscope and be reviewed for their ongoing relevance, so too do members of the team who are not a good ‘fit’ for a collaborative and healthy culture need to be identified and potentially removed.  Disruptors come in all different forms.

When was the last time you really looked at what is getting in the way of booking more business?

Brief Bio of Jo-Anne Hill

Founded by industry expert Jo-Anne Hill, JH Hospitality leads hotels to dramatically improve revenue and profitability in creative ways. Her strategic thinking, skill, and practical approach to problem-solving come from hands-on experience at companies such as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Mandarin-Oriental Hotel Group, Dorchester Collection and Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts.

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