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Effective leaders, customer value needed for success in today’s marketplace
Despite the current economic conditions, hospitality sales professionals were encouraged to continue training and coaching their sales force and to put programs in place to prepare for the recovery now.
The conference started with a discussion on leadership designed to help attendees identify opportunities for themselves to grow as leaders as well as motivate and inspire others on their team to do the same.
"CEO and leader are not synonymous," said Henry S. Givray, chairman & CEO, SmithBucklin Corporation. "We, as leaders, must inspire and maintain a strong character to encourage teamwork. We need to visualize a better state and commit to getting ourselves there and to getting other people there."
Givray outlined the qualities of an effective leader along with eight ways to build a talented and cohesive team.
In the "Making Tough Choices in Tough Times" session, Sergio Asensio, managing director at Topline Group LLC, discussed a framework that hospitality professionals can use to help them navigate making sales decisions in the current economic climate.
"We have many competing initiatives facing us," said Asensio. "It is difficult to say ‘no', but effective leaders must understand in today's climate not all leads are equally valuable and with limited time and manpower, it's important to focus efforts."
The value of the customer and packaging continue to be leading conversations in the industry. Jan Freitag, Smith Travel Research, reported that both group and transient travel have seen a decrease in 2009, setting the stage for the panel discussion "The Voice of the Customer."
Panelists Rick Freeda of U.S. General Services Administration, Rick Garlick of Maritz Research and Lise Puckorius of SmithBucklin touched on the importance of guest satisfaction and its impact on recurring bookings. The overarching theme was sales professionals must continue to focus on the long-term plan for sales and not dilute their property's differentiation in an attempt for short-term gain.
Technology and the use of social media in online programs also generated discussion during Kimberly Ehrlich's "Driving Online Reservations Through Internet Marketing" session. Ehrlich, a director of business development at Milestone Internet Marketing, walked through the evolution of search engine technology and pinpointed tactics to help sales people further leverage their Internet marketing strategies.
John Parke, president & CEO of Leadership Synergies, LLC, concluded the conference with a session on how hospitality sales professionals can make themselves indispensable, while developing personal action plans for 2009.
Two of the conference sessions: "One-on-One with Smith Travel Research" and "The Voice of the Customer" were videocast live from the conference in conjunction with HSMAI University. An archive version of the Smith Travel Research session is now available via www.hsmaiuniversity.org.
Conference partners included American Express, Cendyn, Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau, Incite Response and Leadership Synergies.
The HSMAI Hotel Sales Strategy Conference is organized by HSMAI and HSMAI's Hotel Director of Sales and Marketing (HDOSM) SIG Advisory Board. The HDOSM SIG provides information, leadership development, and a variety of other resources specifically relevant to hotel directors of sales and marketing, to sales staff who aspire to one day be directors of sales and marketing, and to other industry professionals interested in developments within hotel sales. Their vision is to establish a resource-rich environment in collaboration with the HSMAI membership that is indispensable for the career professional in hotel sales and marketing. Visit www.hdosm.org for more information.
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