HEC behind the scenes: an inside look at the Sales Team

March 12, 2015

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By Jenna Greco ’18 and Claire Hourticq ’17

This week’s blog post highlights the Sales Team and the vital role they play in Hotel Ezra Cornell (HEC). The Sales Team is responsible for reaching out to potential guests and selecting the right guest mix for the conference, as well as for assisting guests with the booking process.

The first phase of the process starts in the early fall with the Sales Team creating a list of prospective guests to contact later during the outreach phase. During the outreach phase, the Sales Team discusses the guest profiles, taking into consideration factors such as the theme, panels, and expected dynamics of the conference. The outreach phase involves email distributions, focused outreaches, and multiple phone blitzes. Since the conference represents a significant financial and time commitment for guests, the Sales Team works diligently to communicate the value in the conference and the program.

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HEC 90 sales director Patrick Tan ’16 (upper left) with the rest of the Sales Team.

Interacting directly with guests—whether it’s through the phone, email, or in person—is a delicate yet rewarding task. Throughout the entire sales process, the team is responsible for ensuring a high level of guest satisfaction, which requires attentiveness and responsiveness to any guest registration needs. Assistance in registration includes managing guests during pre-registration, coordinating the guest room blocks, and ensuring that billing issues and registration software issues are kept at a minimum throughout the entire HEC weekend. All members of the Sales Team go through a learning program at the beginning of the year to practice and enhance key abilities such as teamwork, communication, professional speech, and networking.

Since HEC represents a significant financial and time commitment for guests, the Sales Team works diligently to communicate the value.

Patrick Tan ’16 is director of the Sales Team this year and is thrilled by his position, as it is still very new. He’s enjoyed the opportunity to be innovative, saying, “I know that my actions determine the future of this department. It is exciting to work without the mindset of ‘this is how we did it last year’ and I think that’s a good way for other directors to think too.” The Sales Team is more different from the Front of House Teams than you may realize, which presents interesting challenges. Patrick is responsible not only for leading a team and implementing strategic goals for HEC, but also for managing some of the “behind the scenes” parts that factor into a guest’s stay.

Facets of the weekend’s preparations are sometimes forgotten during the excitement of HEC weekend itself. For instance, HEC will typically have up to 200 guest registrants and 50 faculty registrants in addition to two room blocks of 110 and 20 rooms. It is the sales director’s responsibility to be proactive in managing and being an expert in all aspects of the pre-conference experience. Patrick also shared that the most rewarding part of his position is seeing, meeting, and serving all the guests invited by the Sales Team. It is especially powerful to interact with the guests who are introduced to HEC for the first time, as their expectations are often surpassed. Having the opportunity to shape the guest mix of the conference is also something that the Sales Team finds very fulfilling, because it is the guests they choose that will create the dynamics and drive the conference.

"It is exciting to work without the ‘this is how we did it last year' mindset, and I think that's a good way for other directors to think too." - Patrick Tan '16, HEC 90 sales director

This year, the Sales Team’s goal was to bring back people who haven’t attended HEC in a considerable amount of time. Patrick’s goal was to “reunite people who share a common past” which fits perfectly with the HEC 90 theme, “…and the rest is history!” The innovative mindset with which the Sales Team approached this year’s HEC has sparked much enthusiasm in guests, who can hardly wait for the fantastic weekend to start.