Are the salespeople in your hotels really selling?

Seems like a ridiculous question; of course your asset’s salespeople are selling, right?  Well, not so fast…

Hotels of every star-rating, size, shape and location have had on-property sales teams for as long as the hotels themselves have existed.  Along with the existence of these sales teams has been the assumption that these salespeople spend most of their time actually selling on behalf of your propert(ies).  Unfortunately, experience, history, and results tell a different story.


In 35+ years of leading hotel property and hotel company sales organizations, I have come to learn that making assumptions about strategy & tactics when it comes to selling can be a costly mistake.   As a result, I’ve made it a standard part of my interactions with sales organizations around the globe to work to identify an agreed-upon definition of “selling,” with an important distinction being between “selling” and “order-taking.”


For example, take your management company through the following exercise:

1.        Establish a baseline definition of what selling is, and what it isn’t:

a.       Selling Is:  researching, networking, just plain digging to find more business for your hotels.  May come under the heading of more business from existing clients, or in the form of new business altogether.  In either case, Selling is the function of doing all that is necessary to PROACTIVELY uncover, solicit, and secure additional revenues for your asset(s).

b.      Selling Isn’t:  answering the Sales Department phone when it rings, responding to email or third-party electronic leads, confirming room blocks to your local convention & visitors bureau (CVB) etc.  Each of these functions plays an important role in the revenue performance of your hotel(s), but by themselves, these are all passive, reactive examples of fulfilling a customer order.  Definitely NOT selling.

2.       Ask your Sales Team members what percentage of their time is spent on proactive selling (see definition #1a above).  Honesty counts !

3.       If the honest, believable answer is 50% or higher, congratulations, but I promise that you are in the minority (and you should be at least a bit skeptical)

4.       If the honest, believable answer is in the neighborhood of 25% (or less !), congratulations, as you have an honest, though less than productive, sales team.


So here you are, you’ve determined that the professional organization that manages your hotel and is responsible for your top-line revenue has a sales team that spends perhaps 75% (or more) of its time doing something other than proactively selling.  Is this a business model that works for you?


In my next post: Now that you’ve seen the light and realized that your sales team is spending most of their time doing something other than selling, what can you as the property owner actually do about it?