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The importance of job descriptions
John J. Hogan
Thursday, 11th October 2007
 
" I am the world's worst salesman,  therefore, I must make it easy for people to buy"  FW Woolworth - Frank Winfield Woolworth founded a retail company that was one of the original American five-and-dime stores, with a loan of $300 in 1878.  

Despite growing to be one of the largest retail chains in the world through most of the 20th century, competition led to a decline beginning in the 1980s and in the late 1990s, the company converted itself into a sporting retailer, closing its remaining retail stores operating under the "Woolworth's" brand name and renaming itself Venator Group.

In the hospitality industry, we often find ourselves in the role of overcoming what we perceive as the disadvantages of our hotel.  Sometimes our competitor has a newer facility, better meeting set-ups or has the operating philosophy of heavy discounting that you cannot or will not adopt. 

Whether it be sports, a character in a novel or an actor playing a part we might relate to, we all at one time or another relate to the "underdog" – the one who has to overcome huge odds to win the game or to overcome the tremendous obstacle.
 
If you are a general manager that has staff dedicated to the sales function as their primary function, look at the details in the following section for guidelines in the selection and ongoing monitoring of these professionals. 

If you as the general manager  have to manage and sell within your responsibilities, these same characteristics could very well assist you in improving your time management and planning.

The Importance of Job Descriptions
Job descriptions aid in the hiring process by defining the specific criteria needed to effectively fill a position. Not only do they assure the proper criteria are being considered, but they aid in keeping all interviews as objective as possible.

They provide the necessary criteria on which to structure the interview itself and assure all applicants of being evaluated fairly and equally. They may also provide legal protection to the property and interviewer alike by defining the specific skills required by an applicant to qualify for the job.

It is the responsibility of the general manager and sales director to develop job descriptions for every position in the sales office.

Today, regardless of the size of a property, many sales department heads have the title of "Director of Sales."  This can help position your sales representative as an equal when competing with other hotels. It is prudent to be certain that your sales staff is trained well enough to be able to compete, as a title alone does not make up for inadequately prepared person.

Additional sales personnel (except clerical) may use the title of Sales Manager. This gives greater dignity to both positions and makes each more effective in dealing with their clients.  A job description also clarifies the functions of each position.

The size of the Sales Department is dependent on the size of the hotel; however, at the least, the Director of Sales should be given whatever some administrative assistance if at all possible to maintain an effective program, such as correspondence, computer or function book entries, answering the telephone, messages, filing, etc.

This assures that the sales representative is spending the majority of time "selling" and bringing in revenue to the property.  A properly written job description for a sales administrative assistant would define these functions.

Following are sample job descriptions for a Director of Sales and a Sales Manager (or Sales Representative). Please remember that you may vary in needs and specific duties - these should be considered starting points and suggestions only. 

In our careers, we have found that there are many properties that have titles that do not actually tie into the functions or duties of the person. We urge prudence and caution in titles – make them meaningful!

Position Description
Title:  Director of Sales and Marketing

Reports to:  General Manager

Position Summary:
Identifies, develops, maintains property sales and marketing objectives, plans, and programs in accordance with the hotel's mission statement. Oversees the Sales Managers, Catering Managers and support staff as appropriate.

Tasks and Competencies:
1. Assists hotel management by acting as "first contact" with all outside creative talent (i.e., photographers, graphic artists, printers) to insure that the target market and image positioning is clearly communicated to all involved in the creation of collateral sales materials and advertising campaign strategies.
2. Maintains high visibility in the surrounding community and in the hospitality community as appropriate within the brand or ownership group.
3. Maintains efficient sales office procedures for productive use of staff time and insures the maintenance of accurate and updated account files and follow-up procedures.
4. Monitors and directs sales leads to outside sales managers, provides motivation, support, encouragement, and direction to all members of the sales department. Makes face-to- face sales calls.
5. Assists in the creation of the Marketing and Sales plans.
6. Maintains all sales systems, such as sales records and reports, conference calendar, traces of history and potentials, logs of groups not previously accommodated and mailing lists.
7. Develops design of new programs and campaigns, designed to develop additional sales from the various market segments.
8. Ensures the prompt and systematic servicing of all business accounts (i.e., tracing, booking, contracting, communicating with hotel departments, and following up with group for feedback and future bookings).
9. Identifies and analyzes competition, both locally and regionally.
10. Works with brand and management company team to insure optimum results in cooperative sales, marketing and advertisement campaigns

Pre-Requisites:
Education:  College degree in business management, hotel management, or marketing preferable.  Successful hospitality or sales careers can enhance this as can professional certifications from HSMAI, the Educational Institute and/or a brand.

Communication: Must be able to speak, read, write, and understand the primary language(s) used in the workplace and by guests who frequently visit the workplace.

Experience: Previous hotel-related experience, sales management experience in hotel or service industry, experience in budgeting and business planning.
Physical: Requires manual dexterity, grasping, writing, standing, sitting, walking, repetitive motions, visual acuity, hearing, writing, and excellent speaking ability.

Technological:  Must be competent in computer skills (word processing, spreadsheets, data base).  Background in automated sales office systems is helpful. 
 

Position Description
Title:  Sales Manager

Reports to:  Director of Sales or General Manager

Position Summary:
Identifies, develops and maintains property sales objectives, sales plans, and programs in accordance with the hotel's mission statement. Outside sales calls are a priority in this position. Must have a vehicle to use for outside sales calls that is in good condition, insured, and the person must have a current driver's license.

Tasks and Competencies:
1. Maintains high visibility in the surrounding community and in the hospitality community as appropriate.
2. Maintains efficient sales office procedures and insures the maintenance of accurate and updated account files and follow-up procedures.
3. Directs sales leads to outside sales reps, provides motivation, support, encouragement, and direction to all members of the sales department. Makes face-to- face sales calls.
4. Maintains all sales systems, such as sales records and reports, conference calendar, traces of history and potentials, logs of groups not previously accommodated and mailing lists.
5. Designs new programs and sales campaigns, to develop additional sales from the various market niches.
6. Ensures the prompt and systematic servicing of all business accounts (i.e., tracing, booking, contracting, communicating with hotel departments, and following up with group for feedback and future bookings).
7. Identifies and analyzes competition, both locally and regionally.
8. Follows the Sales and Marketing plans

Pre-Requisites:
Education:  College degree in business management, hotel management, or marketing preferable.  Successful hospitality or sales careers can enhance this as can professional certifications from HSMAI, the Educational Institute and/or a brand.

Communication: Must be able to speak, read, write, and understand the primary language(s) used in the workplace and by guests who frequently visit the workplace.

Experience: Previous hotel-related experience, sales management experience in hotel or service industry, experience in budgeting and business planning.

Physical: Requires manual dexterity, grasping, writing, standing, sitting, walking, repetitive motions, visual acuity, hearing, writing, and excellent speaking ability.

Technological:  Must be competent in computer skills (word processing, spreadsheets, data base). Background in automated sales office systems is helpful.

Think Tank

Questions of the day
These questions are offered to stimulate discussion about the way we do business.  There is not necessarily only one "correct" answer – the reason for this section of the column is to promote an awareness of how we might all improve our operations.

Topic
1. Regardless of your title, do you personally know who your best five customers are?
2. Do you have a written marketing plan that is regularly reviewed by the GM, owner and/or Management Company and the persons(s) responsible for the sales efforts?
3. Do the people responsible for sales in your hotel have written job descriptions? If so, have they been reviewed by the GM and the individual in the last year to see if the goals and the people remain on track?
4. When was the last time accountability in sales as defined by the job descriptions was reviewed?

Contact me at 602-957-5810 or John.Hogan@bestwestern.com anytime and remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

John J. Hogan, CHA MHS CHE  Ph D
Director, Education & Cultural Diversity
Best Western International -THE WORLD'S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN ®                                                     
6201 N. 24th Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85016-2023  Phone 602-957-5810; fax 602-957-5815  
john.hogan@bestwestern.com                                          

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication or of Best Western International.

John Hogan currently serves as the Director of Education & Cultural Diversity for Best Western International, the world's largest hotel chain.  Best Western International has more than 4,200 hotels in 80 countries and is one of the worlds most established and recognized hotel brands. 

He has served on several industry boards that deal with education and/or cultural diversity including the Hospitality Industry Diversity Institute, the AH&LA Multicultural Advisory Council, the Educational Institute Certification Commission,  the Accreditation Commission  for Programs in Hospitality Administration, the     Commission for Accreditation on Hospitality Management Programs, the AH&LA and AAHOA Education and eCommerce Committees. He is the Best Western liaison to the NAACP and the Asian American Hotel Owners' Association with his ongoing involvement in the Certified Hotel Owner program.

His professional experience includes over 38 years in hotel operations, food & beverage, sales & marketing, training, management development and asset management on both a single and multi-property basis.  He holds a number of industry certifications and is a past recipient of the American Hotel & Lodging Association's Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging Journalism, as well as operational and marketing awards from international brands.  He has served as President of both city and state hotel associations.

John's background includes teaching college level courses as an adjunct professor for 20 years, while managing with Sheraton, Hilton, Omni and independents hotels.  Prior to joining Best Western International in spring of 2000, he served as senior vice president for a niche brand and was the principal in an independent training & consulting group for more than 12 years serving associations, management groups, convention & visitors' bureaus, academic institutions and as an expert witness.  He has conducted an estimated 2,700 workshops and seminars in his career.

He has published more than 350 articles & columns on the hotel industry and is co-author (with Howard Feiertag, CHA CMP) of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES, which is available from a range of industry sources. 
He resides in Phoenix, Arizona and is finalizing his 2nd book based on his dissertation – The Top 100 People of All Time Who Most Dramatically Affected the Hotel Industry.


Expertise and Research Interest
o Leadership and Executive Education
o Cultural Diversity
o Operational Management
o Professional Development
o Customer Service



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