The pandemic has accelerated the trends that had already started to impact the hotel industry. Before the pandemic, no one needed to pay attention to these trends since the business kept growing every year. Now, hotels are way out of their comfort zone and must change to recover faster.
Human nature is to follow the law of least effort. Therefore, we tend to do what is convenient and gives us the most value for the least effort. If something requires a lot of work, we won't do it. Yes, people are lazy by nature and always look for easy solutions, even if the problems are complex and challenging to solve. Maybe laziness explains why commercial activities in hotels are underdeveloped compared to other industries. For the past ten years, the travel industry grew at an unprecedented rate. Travelers filled hotels automatically, and hotels could focus on keeping high rates and optimize marginal revenue.
Did hotels need all commercial roles?
With the pandemic, the good times ended abruptly. Hotels laid off people working in commercial roles in hotels because hotels could only afford them when revenue poured in. The employees that stayed in their roles had no clue what to do when demand dramatically changed.
The unanswered question is whether the hotels needed all these commercial people in good times. Another law says that people get busy and fill any job with work without questioning how much they contribute to the overall success. All these marketing, sales, revenue, and other commercial roles worked hard and kept busy. There was no need to change anything apart from hiring another person to get some more help.
The recovery will take longer
Many industry professionals think that it will soon be time to return to work as before the pandemic. The leisure traveler was back during the summer, but the business traveler is not showing up at the same pace. As a result, STR and others adjusted the recovery forecasts recently. The prediction is that the industry will see a slower rebound than previously expected.
Rethink commercial work in hotels
The hotel industry needs to rethink commercial work. The main focus for the commercial manager is to define what the hotel needs to do to attract guests and how to change to a more productive way of working.
Change is complicated because instant gratifications always win over long-term rewards. The fundamental problem is that instant gratifications often lead to long-term problems. For example, the hotel discounts the rate by 50 % to get an additional room sold today and gets an instant reward. Unfortunately, the heavy last-minute discounts damage the brand long-term, and the hotel loses millions in the future.
The cost of short-term actions is in the future, while costs for long-term efforts are in the present. This time, there is no easy way out. Hotels need to change to a long-term perspective and invest now to get the return in the future.
Four actions for the commercial manager
The job of the commercial manager is to recruit a team that is open to change to work more productively than before. Then, the commercial manager can take action to make the change as smooth as possible.
The first action is to make it obvious. One example is that it is evident that there is a growing interest and demand from leisure travelers. Therefore, hotels should focus on the guests traveling for holidays and short breaks.
The following action is to make it attractive. Attracting leisure travelers should be easy work for the team using modern marketing tools and the proper distribution channels. Tracking marketing activities will lead to better results and rewards as additional reservations.
Next, make it easy. Data should be collected automatically and be ready to analyze. Ideally, systems help the team making the right decisions. Technology such as PMS, CRS, channel manager, and other systems should provide the correct information, be fast and easy to manage.
Finally, make the actions satisfying. When winning more guests, the team will feel rewarded when they see the results. A bonus would probably add to the satisfaction.
The commercial manager's most important job now is to set the playing field for commercial work for many years.