Recognizing Burnout and Other Issues in Hotel Sales

By Ginny Morrison, CHA, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Spire Hospitality, and member of HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board

After a year of pushing ourselves to the max, many of us have hit a “pandemic wall.” HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board (SAB) members are no different. On a recent call, SAB members had a group therapy session during which they shared anything and everything that was on their minds, including their concerns around bringing staff back, supporting the staff they still have, and future business. Here are key takeaways from their discussion:


  • “We added ‘recharge days.’ Once every month and a half, the company has a recharge day on a Friday, where they literally close the entire company outside of the properties to show that, we know you’re burnt out and you’re doing a lot with less, so take an extra day off. It makes a huge difference, because people realize the company cares. And so, you see people feeling better when they come back, and they’ve had an extra-long weekend and didn’t have to take a day of their personal vacation time.”
  • “We normally do shorter hours in the summer. But we realized the first two quarters of the year were going to be quieter and then it was going to pick up and we needed people to be refreshed and ready to go when we needed them. So, we did summer hours in the beginning of the year and we won’t do it in the summer, because people need the break now.”
  • “Our CEO is very much about appreciating that people are burnt out and stressed. Mental health is a big issue. We started a speaker series internally around burnout, resiliency, and the future of work because a lot of what we are talking about is, when the pandemic’s over, what is that new normal and what’s work going to look like? Because it’s not going to look like what it looked like at the beginning of last year. We’re trying to catch issues before they fester and become a bigger issue internally. So instead of doing an employee engagement survey once a year, now we’re doing quarterly surveys just to stay on top of how people are feeling.”


  • “We’ve continued to struggle with not only, when to hire people back, but what type of people to hire back, because we’re in a position where sales is not just sales. We end up doing admin and operations work, and we get pulled into it more and more, as we can’t replace staff fast enough on the operations side. So, we are trying to find that balance of how to keep salespeople in sales and get people hired fast enough to do what we need to get done for operations.”
  • “I think part of the challenge is that the unemployment benefits that people are getting combined with the limited hours that we’re giving them is what’s making them earn a living. But the moment that you say, ‘Instead of 20-hours, I’m going to give you 30,’ they lose their unemployment benefits and it’s not enough to make a living, so they’re choosing not to work at all. The problem is that we aren’t in a situation where we can guarantee them 40 hours, because if we could, then they probably would say, ‘Okay, then I’ll come back to work.’”
  • “We have seen an uptick in lead increase, and then suddenly our response time suffers a little bit as we’re getting more leads but still have less staff. We can’t respond as fast, and our conversion and catering went down as well. So, we are feeling optimistic about hiring people back because when fall comes, we want to be among the winners.”
  • “We created an alumni association for people who’ve retired, but the people we let go are also now part of it. And we do job postings, so that the people who we let go have an opportunity. We don’t expect to bring everyone back, but we want to still help them.”


  • “There are times where we have to shut down inventory because we can’t get employees at the hotels. We literally cannot get people to work in the building even though we have the opportunity to be booking more business. We have done everything under the sun, and now I’ve got salespeople working in HR just to get people in so that they can actually sell rooms. It is such a frustrating phenomenon.”
  • “We’re actually seeing a nice spike in group opportunities for June and July. I think June is going to be a really interesting month to see if that sticks or not, because so much of group travel is connected to going back to the office. So, it’ll be interesting to see if that actually holds or not, but I will say we are seeing a lot of leads for June as of right now.”
  • “We can’t handle the surge if we can’t get housekeepers and front desk employees. So, something’s got to give somewhere, or we’re all going to lose out on these opportunities if we can’t get staff.”


  • “If it is in the next 60 or 90 days, we’re still being very flexible, because the states are still so different. But if you are today outside 90 days to cancel, we would hold you to attrition. At some point we need to start putting the brakes on the free-for-all cancellation.”
  • “We’re looking at flexibility as the second pillar for our recovery, and that’s through the end of the year. So, for all of 2021, we’re doing case-by-case and we’re not upholding attrition or cancellation strictly, but we’ve also seen that of our group business canceled because of the pandemic, about 94 percent has rebooked for future years. We’re not in a position to lose a customer, so flexibility is still going to be critical.”
  • “One of the things that I’ve thought about is the idea of making your pricing contingent on how strict your contract terms are. So, if you want loose, flexible contract terms, then this is going to be your rate, because it’s low-risk to you. If you are willing to confirm and guarantee a block and be held to it, then you qualify for a much greater discount.”

Categories: Sales
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