ATLANTA—In the past four years, Peachtree Hotel Group (PHG) has expanded its portfolio from nine properties to 27, primarily in the midscale, select-service segment. In order to maintain consistency and efficiency, the company needed a consolidated sales management and corporate account tracking system that could grow with the portfolio.
Tammie Taylor, PHG’s VP, operations, explained, “For us, the greatest need with hotels in different locations across the country is to have everyone on the same platform. Limited performance would make this a very complicated matter when it needs to be easy and simple for the user. Using one system allows us to have consistency throughout our portfolio.”
Ease of use
The company looked at a number of solutions, but Taylor noted that the most important factor was that it be user-friendly. “If it’s not, no one is going to use the application,” she pointed out. “It’s really the simplicity of the system.” In addition, since the portfolio consists of select-service products, there were a number of sales systems with too many features. “A lot of sales systems are geared toward full-service and are more complicated because there’s a lot more that goes into a full-service hotel,” she said. “There are five or six functions we do day in and day out, but all of those bells and whistles that select-service won’t use were built into the price.”
The company chose hotel SalesPro system from hotel SystemPro, a web-based multi-property enterprise sales and catering system. It maintains a central record of all corporate accounts, contacts, traces, account history and current bookings, and also provides reports and forecasts for each property. In addition, about half of PHG’s properties have meeting spaces. In these hotels, the company uses hotel Sales & CateringPro, which enables it to manage meeting space, maintain event operations, and generate contracts and other reports.
According to Taylor, select-service assets have less overhead, but still require a robust sales and catering system to develop and manage corporate accounts that drive revenue, and she noted that there are a number of advantages to this system. Because it’s web-based, users can access it on multiple devices. Taylor noted that the company recently uploaded the application on everyone’s cell phones. “It’s not full blown,” she explained, “but you can follow up with your contacts, your traces and things like that.”
Furthermore, this has also made it easy to add new properties to the corporate sales and catering system since hotel SalesPro only requires Internet connectivity. Taylor noted that a new property could be set up with the system in minutes, and training doesn’t take much longer. Hotel SystemsPro offers free online training throughout the year. For the computer savvy, training can be completed in a day. “But we understand they have other training, so we allow them one week to get up and running,” she said. “It’s easy to learn and use, and people understand it.”
Taylor noted that another advantage of having a centralized system is that everyone has access to information. While full-service properties have a dedicated sales staff, that job is generally left to the general manager in select-service properties. At PHG, regional sales managers oversee property activity and assist GMs, so access to information is critical. “I can review anything that’s being put into the system. My regionals can review anything, so it’s one access for all the hotels. We need to communicate in a timely manner,” said Taylor. “If we don’t follow up, the business could go someplace else. This helps us communicate with clients.”
Additionally, some corporate accounts extend across multiple properties. “One cool thing is everyone can share accounts,” Taylor said, noting that PHG’s properties can share contacts and leads.
Edie Chandler Lowe, SVP of hotel SystemsPro, added that, on the corporate level, the platform’s reports allow them to view multiple properties at once or one sales person, which enables companies to identify trends, opportunities and potential problems.
One of the most important advantages to a centralized system is security of data. “The account database is the most important asset other than the physical building itself,” Chandler Lowe said. “If it’s compromised, you lose a huge business. In one central location, they can’t walk out with the file.” Chandler Lowe noted that, because PHG operates hotels under a number of different flags, having its own sales system gives it ownership of its information. “This goes back to security issues,” she said. “When you entrust a franchisor with an account database, they’re likely to share it with owned and managed hotels. There’s no protection of your data.” She added that this could be especially problematic if a hotel changes flags.
Organization is another significant advantage, according to Taylor. “A big portion of our hotel customers is group,” she said, noting that the system enables timely release of rooms so the hotel isn’t holding rooms it isn’t supposed to. “GMs get caught up in the operations,” she noted, adding that since the hotels get a lot of repeat groups, it also tracks how many rooms that group bought in previous years. “If they want to hold 50 rooms and last year they only picked up 20 rooms, we can assess the group moving forward and negotiate rate going forward,” she said. Another organizational feature is a calendar function that enables the sales person to keep up with new and existing accounts. “If they say to call back in a month, you put it in the system, and it’ll remind them,” she said.
“The system has done very well for us,” concluded Taylor.