Hotel sales managers need to exploit date flexibility

Flexibility is key to book business when you need it

In working with meeting planners, the hotel sales manager should explore clients’ date flexibility, and negotiate alternate dates to benefit the hotel.

Hotel sales managers should be trying to determine whether their client has date flexibility, and try to more them to other dates if it works best for the hotel. But to get the date flexibility from your client, hotel sales managers will probably need to offer something to this meeting planner in exchange. But don’t say to him or her “Are your dates flexible?” That’s a bad question.

When the hotel sales manager offers the planner alternate dates, it accomplishes the same thing. The hotel sales manager might say something like this: “I understand that you’ve selected this week in June. I’m looking at my books right now. I do have a couple of other groups in house then.  But it shouldn’t affect you at all. I’ve got what you want, but I’ looking at my books the week before, and I’ve got nothing booked. For the right deal, could I talk to you about the week before? Do you have some date flexibility that would help us both?”

Using date flexibility to your hotel’s advantage is real genuine sales, and that of course, is the job of the hotel sales manager. As seen in the example above, it can work to the benefit of both the hotel and the meeting planner. Of course the dates are not always flexible, but it’s unfortunate how many hotel sales managers just take the planner’s dates as given without even trying to bring them in on dates that can be a win-win for everyone.

Here’s the big take-away: great hotel sales managers book business over the dates that their hotels most need the business, which are not necessarily the same as the dates the customers requested. That’s the difference between selling and order taking. Suggest alternate dates and be prepared to negotiate. Date flexibility can be a real win-win for the hotel sales manager and the client as well.

Posted 4/9/12

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