1. When & how did you enter the Hospitality Space?
I began my hospitality career in 2002 working in sales, but I really became hooked in 2005 while managing a hotel restaurant. From there I was able to observe the comings and goings of hotel operations and fell in love with the impact that a well-run front desk has to both the hotel's bottom line and the guest experience.
2. Describe an average day at Cloudbeds?
The day starts early at 7 AM, typically with analyzing the previous days' production and trends. Most of the day is comprised of video conferences with regional sales leaders and other departments around the globe. My key daily goals are streamlining the sales process with the ops team, developing and expanding courses and training for our world-class talent development program, interacting with customers and key accounts, and spending time with our CEO and COO (Adam Harris and Richard Castle) working on projects aimed at growth and world domination.
3. What sales trends are you noticing within the hotel industry across the globe?
Cloud-based technologies are leveling the playing field and in many cases, giving independent properties an advantage against larger properties with legacy systems. This is forcing everyone to adapt new technologies or die. Cloud-based technologies are pushing the boundaries in daily operations, guest interaction, and distribution. This means that the glowing pop-up next door could easily be more technologically advanced than the mega-hotel just down the street.
4. What do you think is driving these trends?
Guest behavior is the primary driver and it is changing how people book and interact with hotels.. The process of booking and staying at a hotel has fundamentally changed; for example, today the guest experience often begins and ends with a smartphone. The process of finding a hotel is different; now, people don’t necessarily search for hotels - they get pushed recommendations by influencers on their social network. All of this change has also impacted what customers value in their guest experience - we are finding that people are opting not to stay at large corporate hotels because they value unique experiences, so they are now more likely to consider a more culturally immersive experience at a hostel, B&B or boutique property that is backed by solid tech.
5. When it comes to sales, what are the top three challenges impacting Cloudbeds today?
The industry is changing rapidly, and hoteliers aren’t always on the bleeding edge of technology. No matter how much effort we put into creating an intuitive system, change can be scary and often holds change back. With so many options out in the market and piecemeal solutions available, it's easy to see why a hotelier would be apprehensive. This is why we try to point to a fellow Cloudbeds property which is bound to be nearby.
Cost is the second challenge, although it really shouldn’t be. Some Cloudbeds customers will end up paying more per month than with their previous system.The key is to show exactly how Cloudbeds is able to bring incremental reservations AND reduce cost-producing errors - all of which far outweigh the additional expense.
The last challenge is timing. Some people want to believe that there will be a perfect time to switch next month or next season - but really - when is the right time to get more reservations? The sooner we get properties on our integrated system, the less opportunity they are potentially losing on a daily basis.
6. As VP of Sales in Cloudbeds, what is your strategy for pitching hotels and then converting them to a customer?
Cloudbeds is an amazing software, but that doesn’t mean that it is for everyone.The first thing we do is analyze the property’s needs and assess their individual situation. From there, we move to a demo of the tool where they can see a ton a features that automate daily processes and utilizes distribution channels. In the end, the hotelier is left with more time on their hands and more of the kind of reservations they are looking for. We then wrap up the demo showcasing our easy implementation process and highlighting Cloudbeds local presence in over 30 countries all over the world.
7.Why do you think an effective PMS is important for Hotels?
I don't, actually. The ideal tech stack can’t be just about a PMS. We have to look at the entire Hotel Management Suite (HMS) and integrating every part of the guest journey if you are really going to be effective. From researching to booking, to arriving, to paying, to filling out a survey to sending a special offer months after check out. Everything must talk to each other - otherwise you create gaps in the customer journey that can lead to mistakes that will ruin the customer experience.
8.What advice would you give to hoteliers(our readers) to grow their room bookings & revenue?
If you want to sell a few extra rooms this weekend throw up a promo. If a better long term strategy is what you are after then you better invest in your guest experience.
- Visibility - get visible in as many channels as possible
- Communicate - whether email or text set the right expectation
- Nail the check in process - likely its their first time, make them feel truly welcome
- Spread their word - get them to share their opinion with others
If you are struggling in coming up with ideas go spend a night at your competitor and take notes. What I found is that it is too easy for hoteliers to treat their our own property like its their baby - often overlooking issues that need to be addressed.; it is far easier to be critical of competitors. Whether they do it right or wrong, I can guarantee you will come away with some new ideas on how to improve your guest experience.