Marriott has Sales Force efforts on a number of levels, on-property based at the Hotel, Market and National Sales based in a region or country concentrating on Account Management, Alliance Account Sales looking at Mega Account Management and also a Global Sales Organisation specialising in outbound travel from country to country.
I’ve been lucky enough to experience all these disciplines during my eight years in sales for Marriott and can see the various important aspects of each area of focus.
Originally having started in operations (banqueting server) and also housekeeping, front office and food and beverage, a General Manager asked me to originally work as a Hotel Sales Executive driving new conference business into a large Heathrow property, this required lots of self-motivation, some confidence and at times cheekiness, and a desire to find and develop new contacts.
After two tough years post 9/11, a company restructure provided a more account management and territorial based approach and I worked for two years in West London and the City with a radius of around 80 miles managing account with more than a two hotel need. This involved lots of travelling and selling our brand against competitors.
Another company restructure then required Sales Leaders on property to work with a team to drive response times to bookings, service levels, cultivate local relationships and take on a marketing effort.
I was lucky enough to gain a position as a Sales Leader in London at the Marriott Kensington and after a successful year beating budget and managing my scorecard, I then received a further opportunity to manage a team of 35 sales staff in a five-star JW property in Cairo.
Here and now
As a Sales Leader for one of our biggest hotels in the Middle East, I spend lots of time locally with customers and also travel approximately eight times a year to travel shows, exhibitions and customer meetings all around the globe. The focus is to drive occupancy and rate to beat budget and last year, and the buck stops with you.
Concentration of your transient and group booking pace at hotel level, leisure weekend business, conferences, golf, spa bookings and weddings are all part of the day.
You are constantly looking at the future for longer-range business and benchmarking against the market and last year’s performance for market trends. The main benefit is being able to meet the guests and be part of a much larger team that delivers everything from housekeeping needs to food and beverage.
It’s equally important to spend time developing relationships with your local business park contacts as it is having someone responsible for the key buying relationship with your biggest global customer who might spend as much as $100 million with Marriott as a brand per year.
Account management is also a large part of the sales force efforts, as these relationships can benefit multi-property and multi-region.
The position usually works on a number of sales calls a week to customers and a more strategic approach to long term growth and adding more Hotels to their buying requirements. Sometimes you are talking about pieces of business that are more complex, larger and last for longer. Less contact with property and a more isolated role, you have sometimes to convince the Hotels about your business and know all their USP’s to win the business from a rival brand.
I personally prefer the buzz of working in a hotel with a team and meeting customers to exceed their expectations but I equally enjoyed the aspects of proactive on the road sales.
My advice to any graduate wanting to enter the world of sales is that it’s a tough role and you are only as good as your last month. You need self-motivation, hunger and you have to believe in what you are selling so that you can convince clients that they will have a great overall experience. A company like Marriott has constant growth for development and is much more stable than others with solid core values.
The benefits are seeing the world, working in five-star environments and knowing that you can make a difference in the business with all you do.
Relationships are hard to develop and very easy to destroy so you have to constantly reassess which way to move things. At the end of the day, it’s hospitality so the next party, dinner or drink isn’t too far away!