Hospitality sales and the need for position

hospitality sales position

Hospitality sales people with superior position will have the advantage.

Hospitality sales people want to have the advantage of position, as would anyone involved in negotiations. Let me use an example.

Your are sitting in your office late on a Friday (you’re a good and very dedicated hospitality sales person) and someone calls and says, “Oh my God, you’ve got to help me! My boss just dropped a bombshell on my desk. I have 8 guys coming in from out of town and we’re going to do a new product demonstration and they’re arriving this Sunday. I know today is Friday afternoon at 4:45, but I need 8 guestrooms on Sunday night, with some kind of cocktail reception Sunday night. I don’t even have a budget for it. I don’t even know how much money I have for it. Then we have meetings on Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, and Thursday night. On Thursday night we’ll need some kind of dinner, probably about thirty-forty people because I’m bringing all my heavy hitters together and I just want to have it at the hotel — it’ll be a lot easier. Oh my god you’ve got to help me!”

So my question to all you hospitality sales pros out there is who has the position? You do, obviously. Is there any question who has the leverage here? No question at all. Don’t we wish we had more emergency calls like this? What should our hospitality sales hero do now? Up charge? Actually, I’ll go the opposite way with this. I don’t want to calm things down, I want to heat them up. To further demonstrate my position, I would probably say something like “Oh my gosh, Mr. Prospect, it’s 4:45 on Friday, I am slam-dunk sold out next week, I don’t have a single room anywhere. However…“

Now you fill in the blank. “I have always enjoyed doing business with you.” “I have always told you to call me if your hotel of first choice makes a mistake” “I have always told you I’ve wanted to do business with you.”

Right? Whatever that is, whether it’s in a return customer, a new customer, an existing customer, a customer that’s sharing their room nights with another hotel, etc. “Oh my gosh, I am completely slam-dunk sold out, but I always told you to call me if you get in a tight spot. Here’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to put you on hold and I’m going to go directly to my general manager…“ And then you go from the first person singular to the first person plural, “We’re going to get these rooms! Can I just put you on hold? I’m going to run down to the GM’s office; not my director of sales, not my director of whatever – I’m going to the top, here! I’m going to the top! Can I just put you on hold?” Why do you want to put them on hold? So they don’t call somebody else. You don’t want to play phone tag here, “I’m just going to put you on hold-“ you don’t really need to put them on hold, you’re completely empowered to do this yourself. You’re just trying to enhance your position. So you say “Can I put you on hold, Mike?

You can take a bit of time to do some of your hospitality sales administrative work (or start to get your briefcase packed). Then, after a suitable amount of time, you “return” to the phone.

“ OK, we’re in. I’m bleeding from everywhere, but we’re in. I’m not going to gouge you, I’m going to put you in at my regular bar 1, my best available rate, ok? I don’t want to gouge you, because my goal is not to gouge you, my goal is to create a relationship with you. I don’t want just this piece of business, I want all of your business, I hope you’ll remember this in the future. Now, do you need something in the rooms, can I do a little upgrade, and I know how important this is to you, do you want to drop off some notes for me and I’ll put them in the rooms so they’ll have a little wine and cheese when they arrive? How can I help you solve your problem?”

What a hospitality sales pro does NOT want to do is give away position by saying something like, “Thank God you called, because we could have shot a cannon off in here next week and not hit anybody.”

Don’t give the position back. This isn’t just true in hospitality sales but in all negotiations.

Posted 3/11/13


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