Ashleigh Bowers Narcelles is the Area Manager at Omni Hotels and Resorts. Previously, she was an adjunct professor at New York University, where she taught Managing The Hotel Sales Process course for graduate students.
Tell me about yourself? Personally and professionally
I am a passionate and fun loving person. My family is everything to me. I enjoy spending time with my daughter, husband, dog, family, and friends, especially if it’s on the beach! My happiest of times is when I am traveling and learning about new and different cultures. Food is a favorite and I am always up for trying something new.
Hotels are for sure a passion of mine. I fell in love with hospitality at a young age and have been cultivating that love ever since.
I recently moved to Atlanta after being in New York City for 13 years. With the move I decided to look for a new adventure in my career. I went from being a director of sales for one hotel into a regional role for two very different hotels in Atlanta. The hardest part, professionally, of leaving New york was having to leave teaching. In addition to my career in hotels, I was also an adjunct professor at NYU, for their hospitality industry studies. I was fortunate to be able to transform my teaching in the classroom to writing course content for their executive certificate program in Hong Kong for the class, Customer Focused Business Profitably. It’s a great way for me to continue to do what I love but on a different platform.
As the manager of business travel and sales, can you tell us things people might not know about the company?
Omni is a company dedicated to its employees and the world we live in. My favorite initiative our company has is its Say Goodnight to Hunger program. Since June 2016, when the program launched, Omni Hotels & Resorts has made a donation to Feeding America that provides a meal for every booking made.
Did you always know you wanted to go into sales in hospitality industry?
I grew up on Cape Cod which is largely focused and dependent on the hospitality industry. I loved living there and enjoyed meeting those that came for the summer to visit but didn’t think I wanted to be in the hospitality industry, nevertheless sales, until I began working at a local restaurant. Once I got a taste of it, I knew that is what I wanted to do. Sales came into play a few years down the road after I learned the different facets of the industry and found that strategy mixed with relationship management, sales, is what I really loved.
Why women should consider roles in sales?
Women should focus on whatever they are passionate about. If you love sales then consider a role in it. I believe that the only thing that can stand in your way of fulfilling your goal to become what you strive for is yourself. If your dream or goal is to be in sales, then do whatever it takes to get there.
What’s your strategy for closing a sales deal?
The best strategy for any sale is to do research. Understand your client, understand their needs, know what their potential concerns will be, know what you can offer them and be confident in what you are selling; be prepared for anything. If you do your due diligence, know what the partnership can become, and who you are going to be working with; the facts will do the selling for you.
What challenges as a woman do you face holding a high powered position in the industry?
What do you do when you feel unfocused or overwhelmed?
When I am overwhelmed with my career or personal life, I like to take a few minutes to just breathe, make a list of items I need to focus on, and then take them on one at a time. Focusing on one item at a time gives me the ability to put 100% effort into that specific task and complete it properly and within the timeframe needed.
What advice do you have for aspiring women trying to break in the hospitality industry? It seems for any management role you have to start at the front desk position?
Do what you love. When you truly love what you do for your career, it makes any hurdle or obstacle worth working through to get there. Understanding operations is a great way to begin a career in hospitality, however it is not necessary. I would suggest looking for intern programs or leadership in development programs.
Within your career what position has impacted you sales career most?
I have learned a lot from each position I have held. With one position I held, I was able to focus on the standards and quality assurance of hotels, it gave me an appreciation of how many people and what needs to be done behind the scenes in operations for the hotel product and the service to be of the quality that is expected by its guests. It gave me insight on how reliant sales is on operations and vice versa. Without sales selling the hotel, the operations team has nothing to service and without exceptional service, the sales team has nothing to sell. People come back to people.