Ashleigh Bowers is the Area Manager at Omni Hotels and Resorts. She’s also an adjunct professor at New York University, where she teach 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 love to travel and enjoy learning about cultures near and far. Food is a favorite and I am always up for trying something new.
As the manager of business travel and sales, what are three 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 in the summer to visit but didn’t think I wanted to be in the 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 what I really loved.
Why women should consider roles in sales?
Women should focus on whatever they are passionate about and want to achieve. If you love sales then consider a role in it. I believe that the only thing that can stand in your way is yourself. If your dream or goal is to be in sales, then do whatever it takes to get there.
Can you tell a time when you had to close a hard sales deal? And what’s your strategy behind it?
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?
Fortunately for me I have had a great group of leaders and mentors in my life both professionally and personally, who have helped me along the way. Having support when you are up against hard situations is instrumental. I believe that if you know your industry, know your role, are confident and passionate, people will respect you for your knowledge.
Yes, there have been times that I have been asked to speak to the man in charge but their tone quickly changes once they understand what you know and can bring to the table.
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.
Which career or sales book changed your life?
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.