Choice Hotels International, Inc. | 1 Choice Hotels Circle, Suite 400 Rockville, MD 20850
Tim Oldfield, VP, Global Sales
You’ve been all over the map in terms of sales experience (and geographically!). How did you come to work with Choice? What drew you to Global Sales?
I’ve been in the travel and hospitality field for more than 20 years. My focus has been on the hotel side for 10 years now, but I actually started out in car rental. Early in my career I worked for Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group in Canada on the sales team and worked my way up to Vice President of Sales and Marketing, directing our efforts towards both corporate and franchise stores across the country.
I joined Choice Hotels at the Rockville headquarters in June 2015, but I’m certainly no stranger to Choice. I spent 10 years at Choice Hotels Canada, first as the Senior Director of Sales and Marketing and the rest as Managing Director, Franchise Performance. I focused on the company’s strategic direction, as well as hotel operations and driving our guest acquisition and retention efforts. Throughout my time at Choice Canada, we went through a dramatic shift in the quality of our portfolio, and how we served our franchise community. It was very rewarding.
I was initially drawn to Choice because I was always intrigued by the hotel space. When you combined that with our strong franchise model and my lifelong exposure to franchising, it seemed a natural progression for me. On joining the team in the US in 2015, well that was an easy decision. The opportunity to shape the direction of our mid-week strategy and lead the global sales team was too good an opportunity to pass up.
What role does Global Sales play at Choice? What’s your part in it?
In a nutshell, our goal is to drive more business through our franchisees’ doors via bookings, and ensure that we’re providing our clients with the value they’re seeking so that Choice branded are always their first option.
I was brought on to continue the push to deliver more occupancy to Choice branded hotels from some of our most desirable customer segments. That means continuing to build on our efforts to grow our midweek share and increase traction from the lucrative corporate travel sector. Building a defensible and sustainable sales deployment is key so we’ve also been focused on what we can do to improve our approach to requests for proposals, which are critically important factor in helping properties get their foot in their door with the clients and segments that they want to see more of in their hotels.
What makes Global Sales unique? What sort of people are drawn to work in this field?
I think the Global Sales team’s ability to evolve and adapt is what sets us apart. The world is rapidly changing and we need to keep up if we want to maintain a high level of performance. Whether we’re facing a technological change we think will change the game or keeping up with the increasingly high expectations of guests, things are never static for us.
It’s interesting to consider the evolution of sales and that some of the most successful sellers today, aren’t the gregarious, outgoing personalities one might expect. Today the sales discipline is powered by data, so people who are analytical and logical tend to find a path to success. And success absolutely requires discipline, lots of it, as we operate with intentional rigor.
The Global Sales team must serve as a value driver, both for Choice Hotels and for our clients or potential clients. For Choice, that means continuing to bring on great new accounts in the key segments that will most benefit Choice branded hotels and maintaining strong ties to our current clients, all while increasing room nights and revenues. For clients, we must make sure that we understand what drives their needs and what they need to make sure they have a fantastic stay with us.
It’s a tall order, but we’re certainly up to the challenge. As a team, we’re always striving to be better. And that doesn’t mean that we recognize our successes and take the time to celebrate a job well done. For us, any success represents an opportunity to see if we can do even better next time.
What’s going on in Global Sales right now? What sort of changes are you seeing?
To be honest, this is such an exciting time for the Global Sales team. We’re realigning our resources and overhauling the way we do business with our clients, so that every interaction with us is an easy one.
To start, we wanted to make sure that our sellers were doing what they do best â and that’s selling. So we integrated a Sales Operations and Planning team in Global Sales to make sure our field team is set out to connect with current clients and follow up on opportunities to cultivate new relationships. That means more personalized attention, more on-demand support when clients need it and increased functionality to make booking with us even easier.
Besides that, we’ve got great new product to work with, including our growing Cambria portfolio, easier payment options with virtual credit cards. And as we integrate further with the Choice Privileges team, we’ll make sure that we can better recognize travelers’ and bookers’ loyalty to Choice.
What’s it like to work for you? How about for your boss? Describe the general feel of your department.
I try to foster a fast paced, nimble environment, where everyone is encouraged to step outside their comfort zones from time to time. I strive to lead a team that is able to quickly try out new ideas in an effort to drive our performance. Just because you’ve done something a certain way for years doesn’t mean there’s isn’t room to improve upon it or even try something completely different. It’s always great when these initiatives bolster our successes, but at the same time, we also need to be able to recognize when an initiative isn’t working, so we can let it go and move on to the next thing.
Global Sales is part of the Marketing & Distribution function so an exciting area focused on attracting, acquiring and retaining guests. Each of the departments within Marketing & Distribution are led by some really talented individuals and collectively we have a pretty broad knowledge base. We’re lead by a former airline guy, who brings a very different perspective to the challenges of the lodging sector.
What would you like to see from Global Sales candidates? Any advice would you give someone who would be coming to work at Choice?
The most important thing that has driven me throughout the years is a love for what I do. Secondly, you want to surround yourself with brilliant talent whether that’s joining your team as a first career step, or building a team as your career develops. And then you want to get deeply involved -- not only in your immediate roles and responsibilities but in the business more broadly.
With a good base of knowledge and understanding, you’ll be in a position to actively contribute, challenge the status quo and help shape the future of Choice. We’re always looking for people who are passionate about finding new customers while delivering outstanding value to our existing customers.
This is a great place to be.