John Jennings’ activities include creating and overseeing the hotel’s yearly business and marketing plans, as well as managing the sales team. As director of sales and marketing he works to maximize hotel revenue among market segments, including government, corporate, and tour and travel groups from within and outside BC. Specifically, his team determines advertising placements, orchestrates direct mail campaigns, and conducts sales calls with potential clients.
One of John’s strategic responsibilities is “yield management,” which is the practice of figuring out how to maximize occupancy and rates at any given time. He describes it this way:
“Historically, major convention and corporate travel segments had a much longer planning-to-sales cycle. But among leisure travelers, people purposely don’t plan ahead, because they don’t know what the world’s going to be like in a few months. We have to figure out what rates we’re going to charge so that we can secure last-minute bookings while continuing to plan for longer-term business.”
John is a graduate of BCIT’s former Hotel and Restaurant Management Program, and has held his position at Holiday Inn “on-and-off” since 1988. His additional experience includes operational positions at other hotels and restaurants in B.C. and the United Kingdom, including a stint at England’s Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club. John’s background has provided him with a solid overall understanding of how each department works, and says that helps him in his current role.
One of the best things about his job is that John never knows quite what the day will bring. His activities are varied and he especially likes helping satisfy clients who have special or specific needs. “I like to give them options and help them plan,” he says. Lots of travel and helping his own staff to succeed are other benefits he enjoys.
John says his greatest challenge is the changing marketplace. “You can’t plan for unforeseen disasters like we’ve had in recent years,” he says. “But you have to do your best to keep up with what’s going on. You need to understand business trends and always be aware of what other hotels are doing.”
John recommends those interested in this role have the basic sales skills of prospecting and cold-calling. “You also have to have a real desire to help people, as many can be quite demanding on your time.” Finally, John emphasizes a sense of humour and flexibility as qualities that have helped him succeed. “It’s important that you don’t say ‘no’. You have to remain open-minded to find solutions.”