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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Coming up in January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.