A 12-Month Financial Journey as Told By a Director of Sales and Marketing
By Dawn Parisi Area Director of Sales & Marketing, Starwood Caribbean Hotels & Resorts | November 24, 2013
When I look at my calendar and reflect on where the year has gone I have a hard time believing we are starting the budget process for next year already. I feel that we just finished our budgets from last year. I ask myself where the year has gone. You shouldn't have to brush off the sales and marketing plan that your teams prepared last year for the current year. Hopefully you have been utilizing the plan during the entire year. I ponder over what we established as our property sales and marketing plans and initiatives, what we deemed as successful and what we found did not perform as optimally as we had anticipated. In order to start our plans for next year, we need to benchmark how we performed last year and currently year to date.
Part of the hotel evaluation process is to analyze what you have done in the past and look to the future at what you should have done. This is a wonderful time to immerse yourself in a whirlwind of travel and hospitality trends. This is also optimal when shopping the competition for not only what they are offering clients from a cost perspective, but sometimes more importantly what they are offering as value ads and/or concessions that you need to also evaluate for the next 12 months. Your sales team is one of the best resources to understand what the competition's trends are. As teams are typically talking and building/maintaining client relationships on a day-to-day basis, they have their finger on the pulse of the market. This aids in preparing sales/revenue leaders to be market leaders and not market followers.
At Starwood Hotels and Resorts, we start our intensive budget season in the late summer months and the process carried well into late November. This might seem to some as a very extensive budget process as it encapsulates four months. I however feel this is the perfect amount of time in order to prepare a well thought out plan that provides our next year's financial journey. There is a bevy of planning that goes into planning and contemplating what the overall macro and micro market strategy is. This high-level approach is typically the hotel's positioning statement and market overview. These two all-encompassing strategies take time and knowledge to articulate and to be able to communicate the hotel's message effectively to various stakeholders.
When a director of sales and marketing starts the budget season they must take a multitude of items and information into consideration that will address the strategic sales and marketing plan for the resort. When strategically preparing a sales and marketing plan, a director of sales and marketing needs to intricately review where the resort is currently within the direct competition and market. Be sure to ask yourself a few simple questions:
- How is the property preforming compared to your direct competition from revenue per available room (REVPAR)?
- Is the resort increasing or decreasing market share from a REVPAR perspective?
- How is the resort's direct competition preforming, and how is the overall market preforming?
- Has the market changed in the last 12 months from a supply demand perspective?
- Are there new demand generators that have entered or left the market in the last 12 months?
Once history is reviewed and the director of sales and marketing has a good understanding of last year's financial performance, the time has come to understand what the new 12 month journey will entail. That is much easier said than to actually determine what the next 12 months will reveal. We now task the director of sales and marketing and their close peer the director or revenue management to put on their "time machine" to foresee the future.
The sales leader is now ready to prepare the next 12 month strategic sales plan. Still in our "time machine" a director of sales and marketing needs to foresee and anticipate emerging trends, markets, and potential risks. In order to articulate the future a director of sales and marketing must understand the past. Review what feeder countries, cities, accounts, and partners contributed to the property the last 12 months. Comprehend what possible increases or decreases that ensued to be able to position marketing, staffing deployment and direct sales efforts to impact that business.