Hotelier Profile: Drew Wakefield, Director of Sales & Marketing, Ramada Santa Barbara

My name is Drew Wakefield and I am the Director of Sales & Marketing for the 6 time Ramada Worldwide Award Winning Ramada Santa Barbara, the current top Ramada Hotel in all of North America. I am local to Santa Barbara, third generation, grew up here, played sports here, and have helped raise millions of follars for churches, charities schools, and non-profits. I am blessed to be a motivational speaker to most every school in the greater Santa Barbara area, as well as an Emcee or Auctioneer for approximately 40 plus events a year in our community. I have a B.A. Degree, double major (Business Administration & Economics) from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. I am currently the P.A. Announcer for the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Men’s Basketball & Men’s Volleyball and fill in for most of their other sporting events and tournaments. To me, Santa Barbara is not just my home; it is “My City.”

How long have you been the Director of Sales and Marketing at the Ramada Santa Barbara?
May 28, 2018, will be my 10 year anniversary as the D.O.S. here at the Ramada Santa Barbara.

What is your favorite part of being a Director of Sales and Marketing (at the Ramada Santa Barbara)?
There is not enough room in this article for me to articulate everything that I love about being the D.O.S. of the Ramada Santa Barbara, but I will list a few things. I am fortunate to work for a locally owned and operated hotel where ownership and management loves “My City.” I am blessed to work for Tom Patton the 2015 CH&LA General Manager of the Year who is an incredible leader and hospitality visionary. Tom, from day one has always allowed and encouraged me to use my talents, skills, strengths, and abilities to capture and grow our business and brand the Ramada Santa Barbara as the hotel of choice for anyone coming to visit Santa Barbara. I also get to work alongside the 2016 CH&LA Employee of the Year Leticia Lopez who we call the “Angel of the Ramada.” Another blessing is to work with an incredible A.G.M in Kether Johnson; she is a true superstar in the hospitality industry. I love being the “go-to guy” when you need a hotel room in the greater Santa Barbara area.

What are the important skills and traits for someone working in hotel sales to have?
You must possess the “Spirit of Hospitality” inside of you. This is a business where you must have the desire and mindset to assist people and make them feel extremely important and appreciated. You have to endeavor to “earn” business and never take what you receive for granted. If your goal is to be successful in sales, then you must be able to be reached 24/7, 365 days a year. If you cannot be reached or do not respond to clients/guests/leads immediately, they will go elsewhere and you will never win their business. If you gain their trust in the very beginning and earn their business, they will stay loyal to you until you lose their trust. I have always found it easier to win business in the beginning, then to try and take them away from someone who they are currently doing business with and have a good relationship. Always exceed the client’s expectations, no matter what those expectations might be.

What challenges have you encountered in marketing your property?
The Ramada Santa Barbara is centrally located but not within walking distance of many things, and that is sometimes a challenge for guests who want to walk across the street and be in the middle of the action. That is why I invented the “Ramada Santa Barbara Value Pass,” where our guests can do virtually everything there is to do in Santa Barbara and save up to $650.00 by taking advantage of our partner’s discounts to local restaurants, wine tasting, attractions, museums, and much more. This is a great win/win/win situation for the Ramada, our community partners, and our guests who come and stay with us and then go out to enjoy and experience all that Santa Barbara has to offer.

What is a typical work day like for you?
I start preparing the night before so that I am Ready for the day ahead of me. I am always Anticipating that no matter how well I have planned the day, obstacles, challenges, or opportunity’s might pop up and I have to be willing and able to face them head on. I constantly look forward to Making new connections with teams, coaches, community people, current guests, and potential clients. I have to keep the pipeline filled. I must be Aware of everything taking place in Santa Barbara, what potential business is coming to town and would it a good fit for the Ramada. I also need to be aware of new innovative advertising, marketing, and social media opportunities which might be available to me. I have to be Diligent to always give 100% to everything that I do. Lastly, I always Appreciate all the business that ultimately comes to the Ramada along with being able build relationships with our guests, I always look forward to the opportunity to make, build, and grow relationships. The easiest way to remember all of this is to take the beginning letters which forms R.A.M.A.D.A. Now that is old school marketing for you.

What advice do you have for those interested in entering hotel sales and marketing?
If you do not have a passion and a heart for the hospitality business and are willing to endure the ups and downs of sales, look into another career. It is not easy but you must be willing to do whatever it takes to make contacts, build and grow relationships, and have a strong desire to “Earn & Win” business. Do your homework and start by doing an internship with a couple of hotels to see if you are suited for a career in Sales & Marketing. Too many people today are just seeking employment, a paycheck, or a job without knowing what they are getting themselves into. Find the best of the best and ask to shadow them or intern for their company. There is so much more to learn from experience than from books and online tutorials.

What do you want to be known for?
I want to be known for having the “spirit of hospitality” and that I was always available to assist wherever and whenever possible. My number one desire in life is to be a blessing and not a curse and number two is to help others around me fulfill their true potential and become “great, incredible, and amazing.”