Carol Verret Consulting 
and Training
Consulting
Training Seminars
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Hotel Sales -- Innovation in the
Face of Limitations
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Carol Verret / November 2003
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November 2003

The fact of the matter is that it is hard selling anything these days given the restrictions that apply to sales activities.

Someone forgot to tell the bureaucrats who endorsed the no-call lists, the restrictions on unsolicited faxes and the current proposals to deal with spam that nothing in this country happens until a sale is made. That's free enterprise, a free market economy.

While I don't like to be interrupted at my precious dinners at home by telephone solicitors, I do have caller ID and simply don't answer the phone. I receive the occasional unsolicited fax but I just throw it a way or delete it (my fax is an efax) and while my email inbox also fills with spam, there are a few that are of occasional interest (the Viagra ones are not for obvious reasons.)

However, I defend the right of free commerce to solicit business. These techniques must work or no one would be using them. It is very difficult to be a sales person of any kind these days. The noble profession of sales has been given a black eye and this rubs off on our hotel sales people. One of whom told me that she didn't want to do her sales calls because she felt like "a solicitor." The problem with this? How does anyone expect to produce new revenue unless you solicit it?

An article in the Denver Post on Monday, November 10 went into great detail about how companies who have previously relied on telemarketing are changing strategies to more cost intensive personal solicitation. I would rather have the option of ignoring a phone call than facing an army of people ringing my doorbell during dinner. A personal email that I emailed to a colleague in an industry association ended up in her 'Spam' box --unnoticed for two weeks!

While the limitations on telephone calls are not restricted in a Business-to-Business environment, the generally negative attitude toward sales people has permeated our target clients' mindsets as well. They don't answer their phone; they allow it to go to voice mail. Hence, why "dialing for dollars" no longer works in most markets. Try cold calling in a large office building in most major markets today -- security will be on your tail in five minutes, if it takes them that long!

There were actually two articles I wanted to write this month based on two articles I read recently. Bear with me because they are both related.

An article by Alan Webber, a founding editor of Fast Company, appeared in USA Today on November 3, 2002 entitled Companies Repeat Mistake of Cutting Investment in Workers. "One of the easiest ways to make your numbers look better is to cut back on 'non-essential' items. Training and Development can be axed. … (This includes) programs that give executives -- or any workers -- new ideas, new techniques, new tactics and new approaches to winning in the workplace. Once the tyranny of numbers sets in, almost any investment in people is an easy target."

Alan Webber goes on to remind us that in the 1970's American industry was preoccupied with the "numbers" or as he puts it, financial engineering. The Japanese weren't -- they invested in their people and subsequently outperformed their US competitors in terms of quality and price. The same "movie" is repeating itself and as he said and I quote, "…it has an ugly ending." "The only way to produce sizable profits, to succeed against competition and to chalk up impressive growth is through constant innovation. And the only way to do that is by investing in employees."

Okay, how are these two issues related? The world of sales is changing rapidly and will continue to do so. It is tougher and requires a paradigm shift in the way we conduct hotel sales. It is an exciting change for those who embrace it.

A hotel sales person asked the following question after a presentation to her company's annual meeting. "With the role of technology so prevalent in our industry will we still need sales people?" Absolutely!

What we need to do is re-define the relationships between sales and operations, especially revenue management, sales and marketing, sales and reservations. It's not just the sales staff that needs to rethink how they are going to solicit and how to use the new tech tools, it is the entire revenue generating engine of the hotel that needs to make a paradigm shift in how we do business effectively in relation to how our current and target clients have changed.

I can hear all of you thinking "here it comes -- the shameless pitch for training. "The fact of the matter is that those of us who have enjoyed any success in this industry can attribute that to having been trained well, because someone invested in us, not because we are the brightest light on the tree. I know hotel companies who spend more money training their front desk associates than they do training their sales staff  and have a very high turnover rate  Not that the front desk doesn't deserve training. For both groups and every employee in the hotel, there are many more training options than existed even two years ago!

Hence, the relationship between the first article on the difficulties of sales and the second on investing in people.

We have to embrace innovation and train for innovation in the way we conduct sales to deal with the new challenges presented in the Denver Post article. Our love/hate relationship with technology is forcing us, kicking and screaming, to re-think the benefits rather than the obstacles to new ways of producing business.

There are no bullet points at the end of this article -- answers to these issues are not that easy. We need to reframe the questions first.

A business book I recommend is entitled "Its not the BIG that eat the SMALL -- it's the FAST that eat the SLOW" By Jennings and Haughton. I think the title says it all.

Happy Thanksgiving and remember to give thanks for the sales people you have!


Carol Verret, Owner of Carol Verret Consulting & Training, is a twenty-year veteran of the hotel industry. She arrived in Denver in 1984 in the midst of an economic downturn and quickly established herself as an expert in sales and marketing in hotel turn-around situations, applying her formula for REVPAR improvement. To learn more about Carol Verret, Consulting and Training, visit her web site at http://www.carolverret.com  Comments and feedback are appreciated and can be communicated via phone at (303) 618-4065 or email at carol@carolverret.biz. Be sure to subscribe to Carol's free monthly newsletter: ResultsWoW Customer Service by sending an email to:Subscribe-on@carolverret.biz. Put Subscribe in the subject line. 

copyright © Carol Verret, 2002-2003


 
Contact:
Carol Verret
  3140 S. Peoria St, PMB 436
  Aurora, CO 80014
(303) 618-4065
Web Site: http://www.carolverret.biz
Email: carol@carolverret.biz
Also See: The Good News & the Bad News; Improving Economy = New Hotel Development / Carol Verret / October 2003
Leadership - General Managers Managing the Sales Process / Carol Verret  / October 2003
When the Crystal Ball is Cloudy; Marketing Plans for 2004 / Carol Verret / July 2003
Partnership of Sales and Technology; Using Tech Tools to "Sell" the Hotels / Carol Verret  / July 2003
Back to the Basics? The Basics of Hotel Sales Have Changed! / May 2003
Creating Sales "HUNTERS": The Skill Sets Required in the New Hotel Sales Environment / April 2003
Heightened Security Requires New Strategies in Hotels Sales / Carol Verret Consulting and Training / Mar 2003
Revenue Recovery - Building The ‘A’ Team in Sales / Carol Verret / January 2003
Contingency Marketing Plan – War In Iraq! / Carol Verret / November 2002
Playing the Rate Game - Positioning -- Positioning -- Positioning! / Carol Verret / October 2002
The Rate Game - Playing to Win / Carol Verret / October 2002
The Challenge of Marketing Independent Boutique Hotels / Carol Verett / August 2002
Hotel Sales in a Limited Service Environment - The Rules Have Changed / Carol Verett / August 2002
The General Manager’s Role in Sales -Chief Marketing Officer of the Hotel / Carol Verret / April 2002
100% Market Share Penetration is Not Good Enough / Carol Verett / January 2002
The Key to REVPAR Recovery –  New Business Development / Carol Verett / December  2001
Trash the 2002 Marketing Plan - And Just Start Over / Carol Verett / September 2001
How to Use Consultants Effectively –  A View From the Other Side  / Carol Verret / August 2001
How Soft Is Your Hotel's Economic Landing?  / Carol Verret / Aprl 2001
The ‘Value Proposition’: Marketing Yourself to Prospective Employees / Carol Verret / January 2001
Generation Y:  Motivating and Training a New Generation of Employees / Carol Verret / November  2000
Why Customer Service Seminars Don't Work / Carol Verret / October 2000
Creating a Culture of Customer Service / Carol Verret Consulting and Training / Sept 2000 
FAT, DUMB AND HAPPY – The Seasonal Boom and  Bust Cycle / Carol Verret / August 2000
Surf's Up - Ride the Wave or Miss the Boat -The Effective Use of Technology in Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / July 2000 
Measuring Effectiveness of  Hotel Sales Departments / Carol Verret / June 2000
Hotel Sales Training - The Need for Immediate Results / Carol Verret/ May 2000



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