Is Hotel Sales Still a Sales Process?

2 Dec

I spent more than twenty wonderful years in hotel sales and marketing. Now, for the last few years I’ve been working in association management. A great deal of my time is spent planning meetings. That said, a recent experience led me to ask myself, “is hotel sales still a sales process?”

So what led me to this question? Well, I recently sent a request for proposal out to several hotels in three distinctly different parts of the country. I sent the RFP out via email two full weeks prior to the deadline for submissions. I called all of the hotels first to ensure I was emailing the correct person in the sales office. Days passed and I didn’t hear or receive anything from the hotels. I was puzzled. I never expect to hear from everyone, but it was odd to not hear from someone. Question, “should I have to work this hard to get a response from hotels I’m trying to send business to?

What to Do with a Meeting Planner’s RFP

  • Email me and let me know you received the RFP and indicate that you will call me within 24-hours to discuss my program.
  • Call me within 24-hours as promised and be prepared to give me your rates, dates, and availability…or at least an update on where you are in the process of providing me with that information.
  • Send me a proposal. If you cannot accommodate my program or it’s not a good fit for your hotel, suggest alternatives.
  • If none of these alternatives work, ask if you can send my RFP to one of your other hotels or to a sales colleague at another hotel where my program may be more appropriate.

What Not to Do
Please don’t just ignore the RFP because you don’t have availability or the rooms-to-space ratio doesn’t fit your hotel’s criteria. And, please don’t send an email that simply reads, “Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate your group. Thank you for considering our hotel.”

What Non-Responsiveness Indicates
First, it indicates that you don’t think my business is worth a phone call. Second, you either don’t have time for a new client or the sales staff is understaffed – – neither of which gives a meeting planner a warm and fuzzy feeling.

What You Don’t Know

  • I manage multiple associations and plan multiple meetings from 25 attendees to more than 1,000 attendees.
  • My first impression of a hotel is when I send the RFP. If you are not timely and detailed with the response to my RFP, how can I expect this will improve if I book my group with your hotel?
  • Meeting planners get the best information about a hotel from other meeting planners. Referrals and caveats spread quickly.

All that said, I must give a well-deserved shout-out to some of the best sales managers I’ve worked with lately who clearly understand the appropriate way to respond to an inquiry: Gwen Spencer at the Westin Atlanta Airport, Andrea Richey formerly at the Chateau Bourbon Hotel, and Lisa Miller formerly from the Renaissance St. Augustine. They make every piece of business seem important to them and that will put them at the top of my list of recommendations. They set the bar.

To the many sales managers that are handling leads/inquiries appropriately, thank you. To those that still need improvement, hotel sales is a wonderful profession. In fact, to the many who “do it right” it’s a vocation. Take the time to learn and enjoy selling your hotels. More importantly, take the time to learn and enjoy the sales process.

 

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2 Responses to “Is Hotel Sales Still a Sales Process?”

  1. Vickie Sparico December 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    Cindy – I could not agree with you more! Now that you are on the “other” side you have a unique level of expectation – that of how you performed when you were in the industry. I was a hotel secret shopper (phone) for a while and would always be suprised when sales people did not return my call, or were not as responsive as I would have been in their place. Your advice and suggestions were spot on, and I hope they resonate with today’s hotel sales staff.

    • cindyrosen December 12, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

      Vickie – Thank you for sharing your feedback. You were truly one of the superstars of the hotel industry and few that could do it better.

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