Leverage in Hotel Sales


Use leverage in hotel sales for long term gains.

Hotel sales folks should enjoy the advantage of leverage, as would anybody involved in negotiations. Here is an example.

You are in your office or cubicle late on a Friday (since you are a truly dedicated hotel sales person) and one of your clients (or hope-to-be-clients) phones you and says that she is desperate. Her boss just dropped a bomb on her, saying that there are 8 people arriving from out of town for a new product demonstration and they arrive this Sunday. She understands that today is a Friday afternoon at 4:45, but she wonders if you can help her with 8 guestrooms with arrival on Sunday, including a cocktail reception Sunday night. Then there are meetings on Monday through Thursday. On Thursday night they need a dinner for 30 to 40 people at the hotel.

She sounds desperate…

hotel sales leverageSo the question to all you hotel sales folks is who has the leverage? Obviously, you do. In fact, we all wish we had more panicked calls like this. So what would you do now?

Would you up charge? Really stick it to them? Use your leverage to squeeze every dime out of them that you can?

Actually, I’d do the opposite.

I don’t want to make the client relax and take it easy. I’d heat things up a bit. To emphasize my position, I might say something like “Wow Ms. Prospect, it’s 4:45 on Friday, and here I am with a sold-out hotel next week. However…“

At this point you would add something such as “I have always enjoyed doing business with you.” Or maybe you’d say “I have always told you to call me if your hotel of first choice makes a mistake.” Maybe you’d say “I have always told you I’ve wanted to do business with you.”

This is how to play it regardless of the situation. Whoever this client is, (a returning customer, a new customer, an existing customer, a customer that’s sharing their room nights with another hotel, etc.) you should assure them that you want to do business with them and help them out. Then you tell her you will put her on hold and go directly to your general manager. you’re not going to reservations or to your Director of Sales – you’re going to the top!

And then you shift your tone and language from the first person singular pronoun to the first person plural.

This is a key aspect of using leverage effectively. You should say something like “We are going to take care of you. We’re going to get you those rooms!” And after you get her permission to put her on hold, do so.

Why do you want to put her on hold? Short answer: so they don’t call somebody else. The last thing you want to do is to play phone tag, especially while she calls your competition. Of course, you are totally empowered to do this yourself so you don’t REALLY need to put her on hold. You are just trying to enhance your leverage and your position.

Then you can take some time to do some administrative work or whatever. After a suitable amount of time (don’t make her stew too long), you “return” to the phone.

“OK, we got it. Things are super tight, but I did it. And I’m not going to rip you off, I’m going to put you in at my regular bar 1, my best available rate. I’m sure I could ask top dollar, but my goal here is to build a relationship with you. You know that I don’t want only this piece of business, but I really want all of your business, I like to think that you’ll remember this in the future.”

After that you can dive even further into being a terrific help by offering some upgrades (after all you know how important this is for her to look like a star to her boss). Basically you’re doing everything you can to help solve her problem.

What a hotel sales pro doesn’t give away the leverage.

You would NOT say something like, “Thank goodness you called in, because we could have shot a cannon off in our hotel next week and not hit anybody!”

Don’t give back the leverage. Using it correctly can help your client while creating the foundation for a terrific long term relationship.

For more information on use leverage while building relationships in sales, MarketingProfs have a very good article here.


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