The New Role of Today's Hotel Salesperson

By Holly Zoba Senior VP of Sales - Hospitality, Signature Worldwide | February 18, 2018

We know the phones seem to ring less and we seem to get more RFP requests, that it's a little harder to get a response from cold calls and some people seem to spend a lot more time on LinkedIn, but fundamentally, what has changed and should it really matter to hotel salespeople?

Sometime in the 90's, if you were working in the DC hotel market, you knew that one person controlled about 30,000 room nights for the World Bank and one other person controlled about 20,000 room nights coming into the same market for Boeing. If you got to know those two individuals, meeting your sales quotas would get a lot easier. The key back then was to somehow develop a great relationship with the key decision makers and the room nights would follow.

Today, not so much. In fact, for a typical corporate purchase, there are now on average 6.8 people involved with the purchasing decision. Often the purchase may be as small as $25,000, and there are still almost seven people with some say in the matter. That's a big change.

Even in the early 2000's, when someone was charged with planning a meeting their first response was to pick up a phone and call a hotel salesperson. They had no choice, where else could they find out information?

Today, again, not so much. Now buyers do not involve salespeople until between 65-80% of the decision-making process is complete. They are doing their research without us! They can collect information, and plenty of it, without a single bit of advice from a salesperson.

It seems obvious that we need to figure out a way to insert ourselves into the process earlier – because if we don't, chances are good they may never invite us in. They may be bringing in your competitor for that last stretch.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.