Do you know the difference between hotel sales and reservation departments?

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Jun 8, 2022 | Hotel Marketing | Reading Time: 4 minutes

What is the difference between reservation and sales departments in hotels?

They are both essential aspects of hotel management and share some overlapping areas, but the fact is that hotel sales and hotel reservations are not the same thing.

If you look up the job descriptions of a sales manager and reservations manager on LinkedIn, for example, roles and responsibilities often get blurry, but the real trick comes when you bring marketing into the equation.

Two sides of the same coin

What makes it so hard to define roles and areas of responsibility in hotels is that, by the end of the day, all departments in a hotel work toward the same goal: to keep rooms full and customer loyalty high.

When we look at it that way, the framework of where one area’s responsibilities start and another end might as well be the same.

But there is a hierarchy for a reason, since, like an engine, each sector has its own role to play so that the end goal is complete.

So, let’s start by defining the areas concerning sales and reservations:

difference between reservation and sales department in hotel

Hotel reservations department structure

  • Booking status, availability, distribution, cancelations, and ADR are under the umbrella of Reservations.
  • Reservation actively reaches out to travel agencies and OTAs in order to manage distribution and ensure hotels stay close to full capacity.
  • Reservations departments are usually a part of the front-desk teams and come as an extension of Revenue Management, which is its own department.
  • Most hotels leave groups exclusively to salespeople, but reservation projections help show which seasons have the lower occupancy that really needs working on.
  • Reservation management can be responsible for hiring the reception teams and customer service support.
  • This department also bridges things between guests and the hotel.
  • Applies and interprets metrics to help the hotel project future occupancy, predicting seasonal trends and planning accordingly.
  • Teams are more directly involved in the day-to-day activities in reservations.
  • Reservations can also coordinate pluses the hotel offers to build guest loyalty, such as car rentals, spas, and local restaurants. Not to mention making deals with travel agencies.
  • Reservations contemplates bookings coming through incoming calls, OTAs, and the hotel website, but they don’t need to have a relationship with clients. 

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Hotel sales department structure

  • Sales teams can bring big groups and conferences to the hotel,  making deals and offering unpassable discounts to big companies and corporations.
  • Sales departments are based on relationships with clients.
  • They prospect and nurture new customers to hotels, expanding the guest base.
  • This department works in the pursuit of building relationships with local partners.
  • Sales don’t look at the routines going on in the hotel but redirect its efforts to increase sales by actively reaching out to people.
  • This team has takes care of different market niches such as individual business travel, tours, corporate groups, and leisure travel.
  • This department travels to conferences and fairs to represent the hotel and network.
  • Sales can coordinate marketing efforts to maximize profits through targeted campaigns.

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The function of sales & marketing in the hotel industry

As we just mentioned, sales and marketing departments have been coordinating more, lessening the division between the two.

This happens mainly because marketing campaigns backed up by sales initiatives are much more profitable than when they work alone, and the opposite is also true.


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difference between reservation and sales department in hotel


Marketing can supply sales with content, strategies,  ads, and materials to woo travelers to each stage of the sales funnel.

More than that, a huge part of brand awareness and trust between travelers and hotels starts with marketing. Then, leads ready to convert are immediately contacted by the sales teams.

Plus, marketing campaigns can be very successful if sales representatives reach out to the right leads with personal invitations and nurturing.


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difference between reservation and sales department in hotel


Expanding horizons

Not every hotel has all three departments (sales, reservations, and marketing). It usually depends on the size.

With so many roles and responsibilities split between these departments, the tendency is that this separation should wane and each will see the other as an essential asset.

We already see directors of sales and marketing taking the reins for many properties, and that can be a huge step to avoiding conflicting strategies or having too many targets at once.

As for reservations, it ensures things run smoothly as far as occupancy is concerned and should work as a continuous source of reliable future projections, assisting in successful marketing campaigns and sales strategies.

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