Hotel sales pitfall: spending too much time on administration

don't schedule hotehotel sales in pirme time

Hotel sales managers are too often bogged down by administration

For hotel sales professionals, one of the primary pitfalls that keeps them from high productivity is that they are so bogged down with the administrative ramifications of their jobs that they do not spend the majority of their day selling.

You hotel sales managers are so burdened with non-selling activities, is it any wonder that you’re not hitting your numbers? You are so burdened with the administrative ramifications of your job that you do not spend the majority of your day selling. So let’s just slow down for a second.

I’m a sales guy. The shortest distance between A and B is the hotel sales route I want to take. I don’t care about C, D, E and F. Here are the three things that we can do with our day. First, you can sell. Second, you can service those accounts you’ve sold. Three, you can administer. Selling, servicing, administering. That’s it. Anything else you’re doing undoubtedly does not have anything to do with your job description hotel sales manager. You’re doing somebody else’s job.

Now let me be precise; we’re not above that. Smaller hotels, maybe hotel sales people there have to do some of that, to be sure.

Now I want to give you a cast-in-stone definition of hotel sales: if you are doing anything other than these three things you are  not selling. You must be:

  • in the face of,
  • over the phone with, or
  • breaking bread with a customer.

No other conditions or criteria can be met to put you in the selling mode. Notice, e-mail is not in there. That’s a whole different technique, that’s a whole different approach to hotel sales.

Now let’s slow this down even more. We’ve done a study, which by the way, the PCMA  (Professional Conference Management Association) conducted the same study and we came out just one percentage point different.We totally validated each other’s study… if you were a normal, typical average sales person in the hospitality industry today, what percent of your day do you think is actually spent selling, according to the definition we just gave?

Get a load of this. If you’re a normal, typical average hotel sales person in America today, you’re spending about 14 percent of your day actually selling, according to the definition that we just gave. Now, let’s look at this backwards, you’re spending 86% of your day doing something other than what you get paid to do. 86 percent of your time is spent doing something other than what is in your job description. Don’t scratch your head and wonder where the wheels came off on that one! You’re only spending 14 percent of your day doing what you’re getting paid for, so why don’t you just go to the front desk, open up the cash drawer and help yourself? To me, it’s the same thing.

Here’s the definition of servicing. Every time you talk to a customer who’s already bought, that’s servicing. This is not a bad thing, I’m not making a judgment here, I’m just providing definition. I am an enormous proponent of the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of my business comes from 20 percent of my customers. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be talking to our hotel sales customers, especially in the area of catering. Catering people actually have this other sales skill that’s called “up-selling.” Group room sales and IBT people, we don’t even understand up-selling as part of hotel sales. We don’t go there. In fact, we don’t include it in our vocabulary.

You could increase your hotel’s average rate tomorrow if you would just start getting a single/double rate for your group. If you would just start selling a suite at $300 for every group that comes in, that’s going to sit there empty anyway, you would immediately increase your group average rate. If you own the hotel, you would do that, if you would own the hotel and got to keep the money, you would do that every time. Catering people, congratulations, for costly up selling.

The attitude of group hotel sales people is that they wouldn’t want to ruin the deal, right? So they don’t say another word, let alone up-sell. Servicing is really every time you’re talking to a customer who’s already booked.

The third thing that you can do with your day is you can administer. Quite simply, it’s every time you touch a piece of paper (paper has a dual definition now, it’s not only a pulp product, it’s also your keyboard or attend a meeting).  Sales meeting fall in that category. How many of you attend sales meetings that are held between 9 and 5? How many of you attend sales meetings that are held 2:30 on Thursday? Why do we have our sales meetings at 2:30, Thursday? Maybe it’s so we can meet in the same room as the staff meeting that just ended and we can drink their leftover soft drinks.

How many of you have ever booked an awesome piece of business while attending a sales meeting? No one ever has. How many of you attend menu readings with a chef or go over the BEOs? How many of you have ever booked an awesome piece of business while attending a BEO meeting? Yet we continue to have our meetings between 9 and 5. I have a lot of compassion for all those in hotel sales. After all we can’t come to work at 7 every morning and stay till 9 every night, but I’m just saying that every time you touch a piece of paper or attend a meeting between 9 and 5, it’s a moment that you could have, but didn’t, contact a new previously unsold account.

The answer is obvious as to how we should correct that, of course. In short, most people are so bogged down with the administrative ramifications of their day, they do not spend the majority of their day selling.

Posted 10/22/12

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