Industry Update
Opinion Article18 February 2020

Six Habitudes Of Hotel Sales Success™

By Doug Kennedy, President of the Kennedy Training Network

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As my workshop participants and frequent readers know, I often talk about the new era of "Silent Selling," where most correspondence is happening via email, app message or text. My recent train-the-the trainer articles have focused on a "tech for touch" approach for hotel sales success, so this month I'm focusing more on the "touch" part.


Following are Six Habitudes of Hotel Sales Success™ to use when engaging sales prospects, clients, and meeting/function planners, where in person, over the phone, or via written correspondence.

Many readers will first wonder, "What is a "habitude?" Merriam-Webster defines this as a "Habitual disposition or mode of behavior or procedure; or an essential character."

To me, it's the perfect word to combine two key concepts that have been the core of my hotel sales training for years now: Create the right sales "habits" and embrace the right attitude when performing them.

Following my Six Habitudes of Hotel Sales Success™ that are extrapolated from my conference presentations and on-site sales workshops.

Be In "Hospitality" Sales!

Remember that we sell an entirely intangible product: space and time! Use of our meeting and guest room "space" for a pre-set amount of time. What do our guests walk away with at departure? NOTHING! At least nothing more than logoed pens, note pads, and mini bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Joking aside, in the era where brands copy each other's design, décor, amenities, and loyalty programs, the "people part" truly makes the difference. Sales superstars in this business exude hospitality in every encounter or written message.

Listen Reflexively

Too many hotel salespeople think they know what planners are going to say next. They listen absently; instead, they are thinking of what they are going to say next before the speaker is done talking. They do not take time to "read between the lines" of emails and app messages, instead briefly scanning them on their smartphones while on the go. Alternatively, those who listen reflexively do more question-asking than talking and are especially good at asking follow-up questions. They avoid re-directing the conversation to make it all about themselves. They allow for pauses to ensure others have fully expressed their thoughts. They summarize (not just paraphrase) and restate. They use empathy statements. ("I understand." "I can imagine how that would be.")

Embrace A Consultative Sales Style

Regardless of what one is buying these days, consumers face an overwhelming number of choices. This is most definitely true with meeting and event planners, who likely start out at Cvent, The Knot, CVB websites, and/or the multitude of other niche-specific sites, or perhaps with a simple Google search. Having already "listened reflexively," sales superstars have positioned themselves to be sales consultants by using needs-based recommendations, suggestions and endorsements, all of which help planners reach closure on their decision.

Use A Storying Approach To Narrate The Pictures

Back in the early 2000s when hotel websites were basically just a digital brochure, hotel salespeople had to "paint the picture" for the planner. These days, most hotel websites feature a robust gallery of images and countless more "real traveler photos" can be viewed online. Therefore, the key is to "narrate" the pictures by using a storytelling approach to allure and entice vs. inform and notify. A storytelling approach begins by replacing the "We have, we offer…" habit and instead leading with "Your attendees… your guests… your participants…" Next, too many salespeople fall back on generic descriptors such as "beautiful, nice, great." Make a conscious effort to up your game at visually and emotionally descriptive language. Print out website descriptions and highlight new words. Insert the above generic words into and conscientiously seek out fresh alternatives.

Quote And Close With Confidence

Have confidence in the rates, terms, and fees you are quoting. Trust that your revenue manager is armed with historical data and accurate business intelligence. Use "rate framing" techniques, which is to mention top-tier "prevailing" (traditionally called "rack") rates to position lower rates as being a good value. Do not make concessions on rates or fees upfront, nor directly imply that you will do so later. Instead, simply express interest in securing their business and make a vague reference to flexibility(during moderate to low demand dates only.) Show confidence by always offering to secure the dates and by leaving the next step on your to-do list.

Proactive Prospecting: The Ultimate Habitude

Become known as a rare breed: "sales hunters" who track down new business, especially for "gap" dates! Make time for prospecting; doing so successfully requires discipline even more so than skill. Traditional prospecting methods still work if you make them a habit, such as checking back with "lost business" leads from previous years and reaching out to previous clients for repeat meetings and events. Effective prospecting for new business starts with researching before you reach out. Become a power user of the numerous online resources for making prospecting more efficient; advocate for funding to subscribe to such resources if it is necessary to do so, then show an ROI by using them habitually.

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