Should a hospitality sales manager burn the competition?

Are you a pest to your competition?

The hospitality sales manager knows his/her competition so that you can use competitive advantages.

Specifically, it’s very important for the hospitality sales manager to know who the competition is for a SPECIFIC piece of business. If you haven’t already read my blog post “Hotel sales people have to distinguish their hotel from the competition” on 3/26/12, check it out here.

A logical question that follows is “Does an ethical hospitality sales manager outright burn the competitor when you have something that they don’t?”

The short answer is no, but let me tell you why.

Years ago I worked for a general manager who escaped Nazi Germany, so he could say just about anything he wanted. He would be on every single major site inspection. He was a wonderful general manager who was completely sales oriented, and at the end of every single site inspection we would finish at the front door of the hotel in San Francisco, and he would say “What hotel are you going to next for a site inspection?” And as soon as he found out, no matter what hotel they were going to, he would always say the same thing, he goes “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I saw the pest control truck out front yesterday, I think they got that problem taken care of.”

Now, I don’t do that, but when one has escaped from a prisoner of war camp, as far as I’m concerned he can do whatever he wants. But I was a good hospitality sales manager so I didn’t go that route. Personally, I’d just say “I need to know my competition for this business. What other hotels you’re looking at, and if you’re uncomfortable giving me that information, let me tell you why I want it. I want it because if I know who else you’re looking at, I can probably get you a better deal. Invest with me.”

If you have great rapport, you might say to the client “What other hotels are you looking at?”

And their response will be “Well, I’m looking at this hotel and that hotel.”

Then I’ll ask, “Have you called them yet?”

“No, I haven’t.”

At this point (as the experienced hospitality sales manager), I’m all smiles on the inside. This might require practice on the part of a new salesperson to not tip your feelings, but right about now I’m saying to myself “Alright!”

Of course, that word does not exit my mouth. Out loud I say “OK, let’s see if we can’t knock this out right now, and I’ll eliminate your need to call my competition. After all, it’s going to take a lot of work on your part, and , if we can do it right now, I can save you all that.”

But back to the main question and answer: I never burn the competition, nor should any hospitality sales manager. What goes around comes around, and I don’t need to burn them. And best of all, I don’t need to burn the competition, because I’ll just say to the client, “Look, I have this feature or amenity, and since I know what other hotel you’re looking at, I know you’re going to discover on your own that they don’t have it.”

A professional hospitality sales manager will just state the facts in a case like that, and the client will not only be grateful that you saved him or her the time, but there’s a real decent probability that you’ll get the business.

Posted 4/30/12


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