Winning with the Web: Return to the Basics

By Mike Paton Senior Vice President, Signature Worldwide | June 15, 2010

"That's nothing," he'll say after Tiger stripes a drive 380 yards down the middle while protecting a six-stroke lead at the Masters. "Put that titanium rocket launcher in Arnold Palmer's hands 45 years ago, and he'd never have lost a tournament!"

Since my father-in-law hasn't lost an argument since 1953, I'm always quick to agree that advancements in technology have certainly helped "raise the bar" on performance in many sports. But every athlete has access to golf balls that fly farther or space-age tennis rackets. As a result, we agreed that today's champions excel by distinguishing themselves the same way they always have - through talent and hard work.

The idea that champions don't rely on technology alone is something we need to keep in mind in the hospitality industry. With so much business being conducted "online" today, you may be tempted to let technology do all the heavy lifting for your hotel. After all, you probably get plenty of transient reservations via brand websites or TPAs, and perhaps your sales staff can barely keep up with all of the electronic RFPs you receive.

Certainly, you and your sales team have had to change the way you work to accommodate the increased role technology plays in business today. But, like champion athletes, you must make sure not to rely too heavily on automation and just "go through the motions." And you shouldn't drastically change the way you work just because you're more frequently connecting with people online. Technology just creates additional ways to link buyers and sellers -- it's not meant to replace basic sales skills and old-fashioned hard work.

While this concept may seem simplistic, audits we've conducted with numerous customers have proven that implementing this idea at your hotel is much more difficult than you might think. We've found the vast majority of sales professionals respond ineffectively to inbound opportunities received electronically - via e-mail or web-based RFPs. Even sellers who normally excel at establishing relationships with prospects and building value in their hotel seem to behave more as passive "order-takers" when communicating with someone online.

Why? Perhaps because online communication seems to put the buyer in a position of authority, making all but the most talented sellers believe their job is to simply respond to the request. Maybe the average seller believes some purchasing manager interested in nothing but price and location is going to make the buying decision associated with every RFP. As a result, every question is carefully answered, and all documentation is attached, but there's no dialog. The sales manager prices the business aggressively, believing it's the only chance to win the bid. And then the RFP response is dutifully shipped off - almost always just before the deadline.

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Coming up in March 2018...

Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.