When Eric Jaltema finished his degree in history at Simon Fraser University, like so many graduates, he wasn’t sure which career path to pursue.
And then, his work with a design company introduced him to the luxury hotel industry in Vancouver, and he was immediately attracted to the cheerful, efficient and exciting environment of the Pan Pacific.
After four years of working in various sectors in the Pan Pacific (including food and beverage, reservations and front desk), Eric knew he wanted to try sales. When a temporary position as an Account Executive to the Corporate Transient (or business traveler) market became available, Eric jumped at the chance; his market showed tremendous gains, and he was made a permanent sales manager four months before the contract ended.
You might be curious about the precise duties of a sales manager. Eric explains, “Many think that hotels sell themselves, and that hotels rely exclusively on travel agents and third-party internet sites to expose travelers to a given hotel. Rather…I am responsible for looking after the individual business travelers for the companies with whom we have negotiated rates.”
Eric also describes his role as dual, in that he acts as both an account and sales manager. When acting as an account manager, Eric builds and maintains relationships with existing corporate clients. He works “to ensure that the needs of the traveler, travel arranger and company are met…They talk, I listen, things change.” On the sales side, he seeks out new businesses and introduces them to the benefits of collaborating with the Pan Pacific. “I illustrate the value of partnering with the Pan Pacific,” Eric clarifies, “and I demonstrate a commitment to working with the client to ensure that their needs are met. We negotiate a rate, design a reservation system that works for them and I [become their] account manager.”
As sales manager for the Pan Pacific, Eric professes a passion for constantly connecting with new and established clients. His history within the hotel has enriched his understanding of sales, and he uses his own experience to build relationships and keep lines of communication open with his colleagues. Eric notes, “I know from experience how much work goes into every guest’s smile. By engaging our operations team, we enlist their support. I have confidence when selling our hotel because I know that our operations team can and will deliver.”
One challenge of being a sales manager is finding enough time to finish projects. Though Eric mentions that it can be fast-paced and somewhat stressful, for him, the benefits of his career far outweigh the costs. His relationships with clients are enjoyable and rewarding. He describes one particularly memorable experience (for himself, the hotel and the client) of “hosting a Murder Mystery party for the travel arrangers from one of our corporate partners, including decorated invitations, 25 administrative professionals in evening gowns and tiaras (it was a Miss America pageant theme) and an elaborate culinary feast.”
For those interested in becoming a sales manager, Eric articulates that product knowledge, confidence, self-reliance and the ability to connect with many types of personalities are essential. “Any successful sales manager will need a certain element of charisma and enthusiasm,” he explains. “Smile, be unafraid and try new things!”