Broadmoor’s new sales director was once a guest

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John Rovie joined The Broadmoor as director of sales in September, after 17 years as sales director or catering director at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and the Arizona Biltmore Phoenix. Rovie holds a bachelor’s in management from Arizona State University and has also worked in Vail and Seattle.

What are the challenges of your position?

The challenge we face now is to ramp back up after a few difficult years in the industry and for us as well — especially group business. We are starting to see the group market come back. We’ll see about a 9 percent increase in group room nights in 2011 over 2010. That’s nice growth; it’s a nice jump back in the right direction.

One of the difficulties left over from the past several years is a short booking window. The window used to be several years out, and in the last few years people have pulled back. It’s harder for us to make bold forecasts about 2012 because we don’t have the business on the books. We are confident the business opportunities will be there, to allow us to continue growing year-over-year, as we attempt to get back to pre-recession levels — but I would sleep better if the booking window were longer.

We had a lot of short-term bookings last year, and we’re also seeing that this year. The growth we’re already seeing is an indication of the market recovering.

It’s a chicken-before-the-egg process. One of the things that will drive people to longer booking windows will be the lack of availability at hotels for groups. Until then, we need some groups to be confident and book further out to create that issue.

Consumer confidence has increased in the industry; and corporations are becoming more confident in making those commitments further out.

The big cities start to recover first, and then the destination markets like ours and the others follow suit.

Things have settled down. There’s less uncertainty, which allows everybody to get a good base of business on the books.

Why did you take this position?

I took this position because in our industry, The Broadmoor is the top of the list. I had gotten to know John Washko (VP of sales and marketing) and Steve Bartolin (president) over the years and knew they were a sample of the 1,600 people who work here. I had attended a number of industry events here over the past three years, and the way I was treated as a guest confirmed for me that I wanted to be a part of this organization. Everybody I ran into, from 7 a.m. at the golf course to midnight at the Golden Bee, smiled at me and knew how to treat a guest. It was magic.

How is the Colorado Springs market different from Arizona’s?

One of the things new to me in this position was learning the two distinctly different selling seasons at The Broadmoor.

Most potential clients are very aware of The Broadmoor’s high season (summer). We are focused on making sure the right markets understand The Broadmoor value season, November through March.

Evidently, we need to pound that message home to people who are not here to play tennis or golf. They’re here to have meetings, and they can have five-star service and experiences.

Our job is to educate our potential customers about how palatable the Colorado Springs winter is. Logistically, it’s not difficult to get to meetings here, compared to Chicago. For the most part, it’s 40 degrees and sunny; the winter weather is very manageable.

But (the resort) has a reverse high season from Arizona. When your high season is winter, like Arizona, your competitive set is limited to Florida and Palm Springs. The competitive set is significantly deeper and wider when your high season is summer. It just makes the battle a little harder.