Hospitality Sales Pros Get Help from Others

Hospitality sales turnover

A hospitality sales manager may need to bring in peers or superiors to close the sale.

Hospitality sales managers ask me about whether they should involve other people at their hotel to help make the sales. The answer is not simple, but depends on the situation and how you handle it.

The newer you are in your hospitality sales career, the more likely you will involve others. It’s only natural and applies to all new jobs, not just hospitality sales. When an employee is new at a job, they need to rely more on others until their product knowledge, sales skills, etc. improve.

As you become a seasoned hospitality sales manager you’re going to be pretty knowledgeable about guest rooms, rates, hotel meeting rooms and many other operational details that your clients are interested in. So if you’ve told your client about those, or even negotiated them and things are going along just fine. But now it’s time to talk about the menus or airport transportation. At his point, the hospitality sales manager can bring in the director of catering or someone from convention services to participate.

Let’s look at the meal planning as an example. One approach would be to just have the catering director and the client sit down together by themselves and work those out. In a situation like that, it’s a much easier call if the hospitality sales manager had a long-standing relationship with the client AND feels confident in the abilities of the catering director. In fact, the hospitality sales manager may not be able to add a whole lot to the discussion when your catering director and client sit together. However, by being at least a (relatively quiet) participant the hospitality sales manager shows the client that he/she is there to look after the planner’s interests. The hospitality sales manager might bring up something that the client forgets to mention, or share relevant information with the catering director about time constraints, locations, etc.

In addition, this can also serve as great training for the hospitality sales manager if he or she is new to the business. It becomes an outstanding opportunity to broaden your knowledge, particularly of what your hotel has to offer.

There are also a couple of situations where it’s a good idea for the hospitality sales manager to bring in the general manager.

First, the more important the piece of business, the more this is advised, as this shows the client that their business is so important that the GM is getting involved.

Another time is when the negotiations are tough. When we get to this point of closing the business, we’d call in the GM and do “the turnover.” The GM can make virtually anything happen at the hotel, so they are a very powerful ally for the hotel sales manager in making the sale.

But the one thing the hospitality sales manager has to do when bringing in the general manager to assist with the negotiations: never let them talk about price. GMs get pretty excited about the deal. And then, depending on circumstances, the hospitality sales manager and the GM get the sale but end the meeting seeing the client walking out with the kitchen sink.

But there is a caveat to involving others in your negotiations with the client. The hospitality sales manager never wants to imply that he or she is not authorized to take care of business.

We’ve done lots of test calls for our hotel clients, and it’s really disappointing when we’re on the phone with the hospitality sales manager and she says “I need to go check with my general manager” or “I need to go check with my director of sales.” And your clients hate that too.

Their attitude becomes “Why don’t you just get your director of sales and I’ll work with them, because apparently I have no need to work with you, the hospitatlity sales manager. You’re not authorized, so get me someone who can help me.”

A professional hospitality sales manager doesn’t make it difficult for the customer to say yes. Be careful about how you call someone else into the negotiations — be very careful.

We’re sharing lots and lots of tools here on the website and as you study them and become more proficient, you really should aim to  not have to ask the customer to hold while you go check with someone higher up. In the case of very odd or special requests you’ll have an exception, but that’s OK. The client should realize he or she is asking for something out of the ordinary, and the hospitality sales manager needs to bring in a higher authority, so your need to get further input should not be a surprise or undercut your credibility.

Posted 7/1/13


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Leave A Reply (1 comment so far)

  1. Darren
    5 years ago

    Wow, great read! I must admit I’m a bit spooked by bringing my GM into the process as he WAY over-emphasizes room rate. We can be making a fortune on F&B etc and if the client needs a room rate that is below his magic number, he’ll shut down the whole deal. Drives me nuts!

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