Dress for Success

dress for success

Hospitality sales pros know how to dress for success.

In the area of hospitality sales, one of those things that irritates me is that many in our industry do not present a professional appearance. You may have noticed it too.

When I started my career in hospitality sales, there was no such thing as casual Fridays. In fact, one of the blockbuster best sellers of 1976 was the book “Dress for Success” by John T. Molloy. He emphasized the importance of proper appearance to a successful business person. In the last 40 years, he has sold over a million copies of that book and it’s revisions and variants. In fact you can still purchase the original through Amazon. It’s a great book that is obviously a bit dated, but the underlying principles are sound, especially for hotel sales people that want to dress for success.

There is no unanimous agreement as to how casual Fridays were invented.

Some would say that it was in 1992 when Levi Strauss promoted their line of Dockers pants by sending out promotional materials to HR managers around the country, promoting the casual look. Others such as the folks at Wikipedia think we should look back to Hawaii just after World War II. In the tropical heat of the islands it became more and more acceptable to allow professionals to wear Hawaiian shirts. That still qualifies as a “dress for success” wardrobe for many business people in Hawaii.

In California, the concept really took off in Silicon Valley in the late 1900s and early 2000s when the dot-com bubble was building and businesses were frantically hiring recent college grads.

business woman
But despite this history, I would still argue that in the majority of situations, we in hospitality sales need to dress more professionally.

You know we are the first point of contact for many potential clients, and this gives us hotel sales pros a unique opportunity to make a first impression on behalf of our property or venue. And it isn’t just a first impression, but also a consistent one.

When you think about it, you probably take for granted that your property does all sorts of thing to make the staff look great. This is done mainly by having them wear uniforms. Your restaurant and banquet staff are undoubtedly clothed in a way that underscores the hotel brand. That look is one of many factors that actually supports your sales efforts by generating a first rate image.

Clearly this does not apply in each and every hotel.

The previous Hawaiian example is a good one. At tropical properties, suits and ties (or the female equivalent) are often not appropriate. But you can always see that the staff is uniform, clean, and professional. That’s the essence of dress for success, regardless of location.

If you’ve been a student of mine for long, you know that I often say that to book the business, you need to be BETTER than the competition, in the small as well as big things. You don’t need to be perfect; just better. And if we do not dress for success and our hotel sales competition does, we are giving them a competitive advantage.




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