The Future of the Hotel Salesperson
By Holly Zoba Senior VP of Sales - Hospitality, Signature Worldwide | February 08, 2015
Sometimes I can't help but worry – is the hotel salesperson becoming obsolete?
When I started out in the hotel business in the mid 80's, Sales was the job everyone wanted. Sales Managers got free dry-cleaning, worked Monday through Friday, spent their time taking clients out to lunch, and were even allowed to drink wine (with clients only!). It looked like a great life, and as a front desk clerk working the 3-11 every Friday and Saturday night, dressed in a polyester uniform while checking guests in and out for eight hours daily, it was definitely a job I aspired to have.
But it wasn't just the cushy lifestyle that was so appealing. The property sales people were respected leaders in the hotel. Everyone seemed to listen to sales managers. Their opinion mattered because they were the ones talking to our potential clients. They knew the voice of the customer - what they wanted, what they were saying about us, and why they were choosing us over another hotel. Most of all they seemed to hold the revenue keys – which made them a powerful force in the business.
I was lucky that after a few short years, I was promoted to the job of my dreams – a hotel salesperson! Though of course it turned out to be a little less glamorous in real life, it was still a fantastic job. I spent my days making sales calls - which back then meant I would locate a tall building near my hotel, start on the top floor and make a call on every single office in the building. While some might think that is the worst thing in the world, I loved it. People were generally nice. I was never thrown out of a building (maybe once) and I ended up learning so much about how companies operated.
As salespeople of the time, we had to do account plans. We took a big company and broke it down into revenue generating segments and created a plan of attack. For example, if there was a university nearby, we knew which departments generated hotel rooms –Athletic department for visiting sports teams, Admissions office for visiting students with parents, Dean's office for visiting professors. Our goal was to find the decision maker within each department to target.
We also handled incoming calls. These would be people who found us from our ads in the yellow pages or the Hotel Travel Index (okay, yes, I am old!) and our job was to convince them to choose us over the next hotel listed.
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