Part and parcel of being a Director of Sales and Marketing within a global hotel chain is knowing when to zoom in on details and opportunities, and when to take the big picture approach. Perhaps it’s Leanne Stock’s career beginnings in the world of accounting and finance that have equipped her so well to elegantly juggle the two.
It may be for different purposes these days, but Leanne spends as much time behind a spreadsheet now as she did back in the day. Her long-time love of numbers means she gladly tackles the challenge of finding as much bang for buck as she can in a world with challenging budgets and even less wiggle-room.
Currently at BWH Hotel Group Australasia, quick-action plans on small budgets are even more important. COVID-related lockdowns and border closures were tough for everyone, but undeniably extraordinarily tough for the hotel and tourism industry.
BWH’s pandemic pivot required zooming in, taking a hyperlocal approach by focusing on any business where people would need to relocate. Think local hospitals and aged care facilities. Ad hoc and local marketing was the name of the game.
At the same time, COVID also forced the company to zoom out. Major spikes in cases thankfully didn’t eventuate in Australia, meaning their pre-emptive strategising was largely not put to use. Yet, Leanne considers it a productive time for the group to be introspective, regroup and clarify their priorities. Supporting the hotels when and where needed prepares them to be a better organisation moving forward.
Leanne firmly believes in the need for marketing teams to be closely integrated with their sales counterparts. While the two functions have largely the same end goal, they have widely disparate ways of getting there. Requiring what Leanne references as latitude, sales focuses on doing what is necessary to achieve the desired outcome. Marketing sets the tone and direction for the company.
“Understanding the strengths of both of those departments and trying to maximise that is a good thing, rather than having them combative or fighting with each other over budgets.”
Whether the onus for understanding should be placed on marketing or sales remains open for discussion. However, as in most situations, learning to see the other’s perspective as well as their boundaries is key to building a more efficient process for everyone.
“If you get them understanding each other, one feeds the other well because the strength of one is not necessarily the other’s weakness. They have different strengths. If you get them both being stronger, that’s better.”
Leanne credits a former manager as being an important mentor. It’s their influence that gives Leanne the confidence to lead both sales and marketing teams, shifting her thinking and approach. And in retrospect, being led by a smart and confident woman was career changing.
“She was the quickest decision maker but the most thorough”. It was this manager’s approach to sales and marketing that has shaped how Leanne now runs her own team.
“She told me that every marketer should have time in sales because it’s different, but it’s important. It’s important to understand both sides.”
In that regard, it’s fitting that her favourite marketing work with Best Western has been the People of BW campaign, conducting interviews with the group’s hoteliers and writing human-interest articles. It brought personality to the brand through sharing their history and stories. Best Western boasts an enviable NPS (Net Promoter Score) of over 66. It’s a badge of honour for the people behind the brand, who deliver the guest experience day in and day out. The People of BW campaign highlighted this.
“For the hoteliers it was really good because they felt special, for regional hoteliers in particular, part of being in a brand is being connected. For them to feel like they’re part of the story is valuable.“
This seems especially pertinent coming out of a year where feeling connected with others became a vital need for many. Regular 1AM global conference calls aren’t exactly the highlight of Leanne’s work-from-home, but the chance to connect with international colleagues and learn from diverse perspectives gets her out of bed.
“There are so many smart people there that you learn best practices from.”
Ultimately, writing a 5-year plan might not be on anyone’s to-do list after the year that was 2020. But it’s clear from our chat with Leanne that it’s just as important to recognise the bigger implications of your work and to collaborate on a larger scale, as it is to hone in on the details and data, especially to catch those small windows of opportunity when they arise.
A little more about Leanne:
- Memorable campaign: “Did Somebody Say Menulog” with Snoop Dogg (what a lesson in choosing an ambassador for your brand!)
- My marketing style in 3 words: Collaborative. Analytical. Responsive
- Go-to me-time activity: Morning runs and dog walks by the beach
- Marketing mantra: Progress, not perfection.