Travel And Tour World – You have been with the hospitality industry for a long time. How has sales and marketing enhanced the growth of this industry in the past 20 years?
Mark Speranza: Sales & Marketing has enhanced the growth of hospitality by rising to the challenge of embracing the technological improvements in the way we work which has drastically changed over the past 20 years. This includes building interesting websites with interactive content, increasing effectiveness and professionalism in customer response time and feedbacks and utilizing social media in order to build brands and interest in particular hotels.
Travel And Tour World – What makes sales and marketing challenging?
Mark Speranza: Sales & marketing is challenging because of the variety of tasks that a DOSM is responsible for. A DOSM must create compelling content including a hotel’s web presence, sharp collateral pieces, and effective print ads in order to increase sales. He must understand a variety of platforms to engage with potential customers, including social media, so that their hotel is correctly portrayed on the web. Trip advisor will immediately “out” any company that is not delivering on true value and to meet rising customer expectations.
Travel And Tour World: You have recently joined the The William Vale, in what way do you wish to make a difference to this group.
Mark Speranza: My goal is to bring my experience, know how, and industry contacts to the William Vale in order to expedite the growth and maturity of the hotel as we enter the growing and maturing Brooklyn marketplace. I will also be able to help determine the culture at the William Vale, which are both a great challenge and a great opportunity to excel. We will seek to be the hospitality industry leader in Brooklyn for luxury guest room stays and for special events, with me leading the sales team in that direction. It is not often that you can be part of a project that is truly ground breaking. The William Vale is just that opportunity.
Travel And Tour World: What are the major concerns in the hospitality industry of your country?
Mark Speranza: The major concern in the US for hospitality includes the health of both the US economy and the world’s economy and its impact on business and leisure travel. If businesses are not doing well they will not have the resources to travel and to plan meetings and events. Hotel inventories in some key destinations has been greatly increased so some cities are reaching the saturation point in development. Safety is also an industry concern due to recent world events.
Travel And Tour World – What are the major draws in the hotel industry for the business tourists?
Mark Speranza: In New York, the major draw for business travelers is the diversity of offerings. Business tourists can choose the level of experience that matches their needs and experience world-class accommodations, service, and food and beverage during their stays. It allows guests to conduct their business in the style that they are accustomed to. Other major draws are access to key companies, high level shopping and cultural venues, etc.
Travel And Tour World – Business meets are a great source of revenue for the hospitality industry, what is the general target set annually by your department to invite more business meets and MICE tourism?
Mark Speranza: The general target is always to exceed LY revenue in order to grow, generate profits and keep standards high. We expand our marketing reach each year via new partnerships, increased travel, and expanded exposure to growth markets. We also look for creative ways to identify new business opportunities at a low cost factor.
Travel And Tour World – The marketing strategies are the toughest. Offering discounts and creating special offers throughout the year can bring a great deal of creative challenge. How have you improvised this marketing strength to benefit the business?
Mark Speranza: : I agree that it is challenging to continue to attract business without having to consistently go to the “discount well”. Apparel retailers have conditioned consumers to only purchase sale items and this is not something that hoteliers want to emulate. The more that you create a product that stands out on product and service and on-line reputation, the more that you can price your hotel and its services consistently and without the aid of specials or discounts.
Travel And Tour World – How do you expect the industry trends to move in 2016?
Mark Speranza: : I expect to see continued growth in occupancy in 2016 with moderate gains in ADR. 2016 will be a pivotal year for the US economy as interest rates have finally been increased, oil prices are at historical lows, and the Presidential elections will have a major impact on consumer confidence, which has such a strong impact on travel and other discretionary spending.