A perfect game in baseball is similar to a perfect sellout for a hotel.
Mark Buehrle’s perfect game on July 23rd, 2009 demonstrated how everyone on the Chicago White Sox was performing at a high level and contributed to the rare fete, a perfect game. Although much of the celebration and accolades go to the pitcher, a true sports fan knows that it took a complete team effort to accomplish what has only been done 18 times in the past 125 years.
The lead provided by the offense of the White Sox, allowed Buehrle to perform comfortably, the late inning defensive replacement by the manager and subsequent magnificent play by DeWayne Wise in the outfield saved the perfect game. In addition the steady defense by all the fielders and a great game called by the catcher all contributed to accomplishing the rare fete.
A perfect sellout for a hotel, although not as rare as a perfect game in baseball, certainly requires similar key personal being at the top of the game and performing as a team throughout the day to deliver a perfect sellout. A perfect sellout is where every room is sold and occupied. This excludes those always hard to collect no-shows from the picture. Follow along as I take you through the anatomy of a perfect sellout.
- The first team member with the ball will also be the last, the night auditor. In the morning, they have two responsibilities. First, relay the past night’s challenges correctly to the AM staff including maintenance and the AM front office team. If an A/C unit went down overnight and they moved a guest and put the room out of order, it may take all day to get it back on line, and the engineer will certainly appreciate getting the news first thing vs. middle of the day after all the rooms are blocked.Second, they need to discuss who no-showed the night before and communicate to the front office what the possibility is that guess will show up in the AM, or if the guest has had the reservation transferred to the next day for arrival. Sounds odd, but I have seen where a group leader tells a night auditor to put the guest in for arrival the next day and then if they don’t show up, charge them. Not acceptable, but it happens.
- The Front Office Manager gets the ball pretty early in the day and needs to take the lead on the quest for the perfect sellout until his relief pitcher(s) come on board. He needs to print the arrivals and study them with a keen eye. Duplicate reservations, multiple rooms under a single reservation, and complimentary rooms reserved by the General Manager and sales department need to be printed and presented at the morning NETMA (No one Ever Tells Me Anything) staff meeting. How often has a complimentary room trickled its way into the late innings of the day without being questioned? Only to find out the guest is already in house, not coming or does not need to be a non-revenue reservation.
- The reservation manager is like the catcher working closely all day with our pitcher the FOM. The reservation manager’s first job is play pitch and catch with the FOM, ensuring as rooms are sold that they are communicated to the front desk. The reservation manager is calling the shots and the FOM is executing. The reservation manager will call for an oversell count at some point in the day after they have scouted the data and made an educated decision on how many no-shows are planned along with the status of the competition, and package that with whatever historical information is available for same day cancels and reservations/walk-ins. Teamwork and communication are key management skills that truly are necessary for these two departments as they work the middle innings flawlessly.
- As noon approaches, the housekeeping department plays a vital role in communicating what is happening on the floors and in the rooms. They often have a vital role in delivering a perfect sellout. The knowledge of an early departure or an unexpected stay-over, can provide crucial information to the catcher and pitcher as they continue to lead the effort. In addition, the do outs conversation should not be taken lightly or allowed to wait till after lunch.
- With check-out behind us, it is time for that desk clerk to make a play to help deliver the perfect sell. It may not seem like a game saving catch at the time, but the well trained desk clerk initiates the second call around of the day, finds a gem. A competitor is over sold and may need to walk a guest or two. This gives the reservation manager, the FOM, PM Desk staff and night auditor a little bit of cushion should they need to pick up rooms late in the day. It also tells the reservationist, not to go too deep in the count as it may be hard to find rooms should their night auditor have to walk a few folks pushing for the perfect sellout.
- As 3PM rolls around, now its time for the FOM to deliver the news to the relief staff. “We are going for a perfect sellout tonight!” The PM front desk team is entrusted with all the tools they will need for a perfect sell. The nonguaranteed reservations are highlighted and ready for release at the designated time. Any room that can be upgraded to a King bed has been moved to open up more flexible rooms, those with two double beds or a pull-out sofa. This will help with walk-ins. A couple or a single can survive with two double beds, but a family of 4 is never going to squeeze into a king bed.
- The catering manager now becomes an unsuspecting hero. Before she leaves for the night she double checks her suite reservation for the Bride and Groom, celebrating their wedding at the hotel. She notices there are two rooms reserved. The reservation she VIP’d for the couple just last week during the final walk through, and a nondescript reservation under the brides maiden name made by the over anxious catering assistant 18 months ago, when the bride came to request a room block for her friends and family. Game Saving Catch!
- The team has worked hard to push for a sellout, all the reservations are clean, the hotel sits at minus 2 and still has 15 arrivals at 9PM. That’s when the GM makes a friendly phone call to close the deal. He reassures the PM staff that they are in good shape, but if they have to walk anyone call the hotel across the street, put two rooms on hold and have walk letters prepared ahead of time for the night auditor. Just a friendly call from the GM, puts everyone at ease back at the hotel.
- A surprise or two. To round out our high performing team, we have a van driver who has kept one eye on the road and one eye on how the front desk is handling the room inventory. As he drives to the airport, he picks up a guest, who informs him he was traveling with another guest who missed his connecting flight. He immediately radios the information back to the hotel, which is able to accommodate a walk-in standing at the desk.
- Finally, the night auditor, who led off the game, now returns to close it out. They have a handful of arrivals left and are now even. The owner of the hotel has incentivized the team with a challenge to pool the average rate on ever perfect sellout for the month. This money is split evenly among the entire hotel staff, emphasizing how it is a team effort selling out the hotel.
Rainmakers Lehigh Valley is a consulting firm offering affordable sales solutions to the hospitality and tourism industry in Eastern Pennsylvania. Rainmakers Lehigh Valley offers strategic marketing plans, media plans, sales training and public relations in addition to direct sales initiatives.
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