What does a hotel sales manager do, exactly?
Are you looking for a hotel sales manager job description? In this post, we’ll outline the main functions of a hotel sales manager and why they are so critical to the success of a hotel property. When most people think about hotels, they think about booking a room for a night or two online. But behind the scenes, hotels employ a team of staff to help sell and market their hotel to a variety of potential customers. These often includes companies, associations, organizations, government officials and more.
Sales Manager Responsibilities
The Sales Manager is essentially responsible for increasing sales at the hotel by driving more business. They do this through sales and marketing. How they choose to sell and market their hotel varies by property, as they will often have different strategies. In the end though, the goal is to drive revenue by selling more hotel rooms to more customers. The Sales Manager will generally start by performing sales activities (often called traces in their hotel CRM). These activities range from cold emails and phone calls to in-person visits, tours of the hotel, scheduled check-ins, relationship building activities and more. The hotel Sales Manager is responsible for prospecting for new business, while maintaining and nurturing old customers and accounts. They set goals for their activities each week or month by which type of activity they will be doing. For example, they may set a goal to make 30 cold calls that week. Then, the manager will track their progress (how many calls they actually made) and the outcome of those calls. They track their results against their forecasted goal. Results in the hotel business are generally measured in revenue generated through room sales and other forms of revenue generation, but can also include sales activities, leads generated (tentative bookings), proposals generated (proposed bookings) and more. The Sales Manager starts by creating a list of goal activities. Then, they measure their actual results. Then, they measure the outcomes of those activities that actually took place. In this sense, the job of a hotel Sales Manager is similar to almost any sales job where they are both prospecting and nurturing existing business.
What do Sales Manager’s sell and to who, exactly?
Generally speaking, the goal of the Hotel Sales Manager is to sell more rooms. They are responsible for corporate/group business and also travel agent room sales. Normally, companies will book “room blocks”, which means a group of rooms for a number of people all at once. Say for example, there is a Coca Cola office 4 blocks away from the hotel. The Sales Manager will recognize that Coca Cola regularly has executives coming in from out of town for meetings at Coca Cola and so she reaches out. She sets activity reminders in her CRM to continue to follow up with the Coca Cola account, working hard to build a relationship over time. Eventually, if the Sales Manager is successful, Coca Cola will inquire about a group of out-of-town guests coming in for a business meeting, corporate training, etc. They’d like to send their guests to the manager’s hotel. At this time, the Sales Manager would negotiate a rate with Coca Cola and find out how many rooms are needed, for how many nights. They would then enter the “group room block” inside of the Property Management System/Reservation System or Hotel’s Group Sales CRM. A room block is just basically a word to describe a group of rooms that is being booked from one account (in this case, Coca Cola).
In order to maximize the potential business that they get from Coca Cola, the Sales Manager may then negotiate a preferred rate with Coke for the year. That rate would give Coca Cola a discount on rooms, provided they made a minimum number of bookings that year. The Sales Manager would then ensure that anytime Coca Cola needs rooms, they are given their preferred rate. Generally speaking, the Sales Manager will also be the main point of contact for Coca Cola anytime they would like to make a booking at the hotel. At this point, the Sales Manager builds a relationship with their contacts at Coke. This could include sending them special deals, calling or emailing to check in, personally ensuring they have a fantastic stay at the hotel, or an in-person visit. In this example, the Hotel Sales Manager had to prospect to find the Coca Cola account, then stay in touch with them to build a relationship, book the first room block sale with Coke, maintain the relationship and develop an annual agreement. This is one part of the Sales Manager’s job that can often be difficult. They are responsible for prospecting, sales and retention of their accounts, as well as some of the operational parts of actually processing the corporate booking.
As you can see, the manager will network and prospect for potential clients, manage large accounts, retain existing customers by building lasting relationships and oversee the hotel and marketing strategy (often alongside the Sales/Marketing Director). Depending on the size of the hotel (usually number of rooms and/or annual revenue), the hotel may have multiple people in a sales role for a single hotel. Other times, multiple hotels are sold by one or two Sales Managers who might not even work at the property, but instead from a satellite property or from a hospitality group’s head office. It isn’t uncommon for a single person to act as the Sales Manager for 3-5 hotels for example.
Salary and Work Environment
If you are employed as a hotel sales manager, you can expect to earn $60,000-$70,000 per year and salaries range from $40,000 to $150,000 per year depending on your experience. The average base salary for a Hotel Sales Manager in the USA is $44,473 at the time of this writing. Canadian Hotel Sales Managers can expect to earn $46,086 on average and in the UK they earn roughly $48,500. When bonuses are offered, they can be up to $10,000 per year. Additionally, some hotel managers can earn up to $14,600 in commissions each year as well. Although these are the average salaries we have found online, in our personal experience, the average sales manager is being paid closer to $60,000-$100,000 per year in salary within North America, so these statistics really serve as a guide only. Other factors that influence the salary that a manager can earn are the hotel itself, their employment background and the specific geographic market that they work in, as well as the owner/management and the hotel’s ownership structure.
Generally speaking, the manager within the hotel will divide up their week, spending a large portion of their time working in the hotel’s sales office, but also heading out into the field to meet people in person.
One of the Hotel Sales Manager’s we interviewed mentioned that she spent a significant part of her day doing the following:
• Meeting with clients in person (she often brought cookies to their office)
• Meeting with her sales and marketing team to discuss strategy, review financial reports and track key metrics
• Meeting with key account reps from Priceline, Expedia and other OTAs (Online Travel Associations)
• Responding to Request For Proposals from Tourism Bureaus, Convention Visitor’s Bureaus and more
• Making updates, reserving rooms, and processing bills in the PMS and POS systems
• Updating key account information and activities/goals in the hotel’s CRM
• Sending prospecting emails and making cold calls
Education and Experience
Like most careers, we’ve found varied experience and education among Hotel Sales Managers. Some have started at the bottom, taken classes during evenings and weekends and have worked their way up into positions as sales managers. More frequently though, they often hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, Marketing or Finance and generally have experience in the hospitality industry. Most of the Hotel Sales Manager’s we met came from the hotel industry and didn’t start in their positions after working in sales in a non-related industry first. The position requires a unique combination of interpersonal sales skills, a background in sales or marketing and a strong focus on numbers/analytical ability. In many ways, the hotel’s success or failure is often determined by the quality of the manager and their ability to responsibly manage their daily and weekly activities, meet their sales targets and oversee the hotel’s finances with regard to corporate business.
Here is an outline of their essential duties:
• Gain a deep understanding of the hotel’s existing and potential client base (this is often affected by the type of hotel, the location and the specific types of business taking place in the hotel’s geographic area)
• Devise new ways to expand the client base through prospecting, marketing and key relationships
• Develop marketing materials for the hotel and implement/oversee the hotel’s marketing program
• Proactively reaches out to organizations, associations and companies that may require hotel rooms and/or meeting space for conferences and events
• Have in-person meetings with potential accounts to explain the hotel’s unique value proposition and to negotiate future business opportunities
• Network with wedding planners and special event planners to increase bookings for these types of events (this is also often done by the Catering Sales Manager or the Event Manager)
• Negotiates, designs and implements special group rates for key accounts (as outlined above in the Coca Cola example)
• Acts as a pro-active, quota-carrying salesperson that prospects accounts, closes deals and maintains relationships
• Processes payments, applies discounts and often creates key documents such as Group Sales Agreements, Group Resumes, Corporate Rate Letters, LNR Agreements and Banquet Event Orders (Want to know more about Banquet Event Orders? Click Here!)
• Handles any complaints or reviews related to group/corporate sales or marketing initiatives
• Ensures that key accounts booking room blocks have a fantastic stay and receive VIP treatment
• Creates positive, lasting relationships with contacts from Key Accounts
• Tracks movement of key contacts as they move from one organization or company to another and nurtures long-term relationships
• Work closely with the Revenue Manager to ensure proposed rate negotiates meet the hotel’s goals and also to ensure the proper distribution of room sales across various market segments
• Report on key sales metrics to management on a regular basis to ensure activity goals are being met, PACE for guest room production is on track and revenue is going in the right direction
The Hotel Sales Manager is a key role that plays a vital part in the success of a hotel. Successful hotels are those that continually maximize their opportunities to increase revenue and profit. Though not immediately obvious, a large part of the hotel’s bookings are driven by the sale of room blocks, meeting space, catering and rentals to corporate clients, organizations and associations. The Manager’s job is to develop these relationships, nurture them into sales and then continue to build upon their success with each particular contact and account over time. The Sales Manager’s job is one that involves working both in the office and the field and is a difficult but rewarding mix of building relationships, sales, customer service and support and administrative tasks.
When done successfully, the Sales Manager builds strong relationships with their supporting team from the Front Desk to the Housekeeping Staff, the Banquet Team and the Revenue Manager. Their job is to find the perfect balance between selling rooms to people on sites like Priceline and Expedia, but then selling to companies and associations as well. This requires constant communication to ensure the client has a great experience, the hotel remains competitive and no important details are missed. Generally this role requires a large amount of experience because to succeed within this position, you must have a deep understanding of all the moving pieces within the hotel. From the PMS, POS and Hotel CRM software to the guest experience, to sales, marketing and even some Revenue Management, the Hotel Sales Manager must wear a number of hats at any given time while continually keeping the hotel’s profitability high.
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What else does a Hotel Sales Manager do each day, week and month?