How Video Tools and Screen Sharing Can Help Today’s Hotel Salespeople Stand Out

By Doug Kennedy for HSMAI Insights

In the 2010’s we have witnessed a transition in group bookings to electronic conversations, as an increasing percentage of meetings, conferences, and events are being booked without even one voice call between buyer and seller. While there is still human engagement needed to finalize contracts and other details, this is increasingly a depersonalized, transactional process done via direct email (to “”) or via correspondence that takes place in online portals such as Cvent or Wedding Wire.

In the currently strong economy, most salespeople seem to be content with simply responding electronically. In other words, if the lead comes in by Cvent, they reply in Cvent, if by email, they email back, and if it comes through a channel such as a CVB portal or The Knot, they conduct all correspondence there. 

Being in the business of conducting hotel sales training, I often take a deep dive into the sales systems and processes that are being used as part of my pre-training assessment. I trace actual leads from arrival through the electronic exchanges, until they are lost or won. Besides noticing that most salespeople only communicate electronically, I also find that most are following up only once after responding, and many don’t even follow up at all.

When asked why this is the case, the most common response is “Well, if she wanted to talk on the phone she would have called in the first place.” Another justification put forward is that today’s prospects are often third-party planners and “all they want to hear is the price.”  If that is the case, we should all just hang up our hats and allow hotel meeting space and room blocks to be secured through voice apps such as Siri, Cortana, and Alexa who work 24/7/365 for little pay. 

As I often say in my training workshops, “If you want to get as much business as everyone else gets, do the same things everyone else does.” In doing so you will be “good” at hotel sales. Right now, the way the economy has been for going, being good seems to be good enough. Yes, sales goals are being reached, but this is most often only due to an increase in demand.

On the other hand, true sales superstars know that “good” is never good enough, and even in up markets they strive to be great every time, with every lead.   

What sales leaders should be doing is encouraging the use of hi-tech for old-school, hi-touch engagement. After all, we are in the hospitality business, not the “room rental” business.

When I work with hotel sales teams, I usually find the latest hi-tech tools already in place, yet utilization is low.

One example is the option to add a video component to sales proposals. Many are using electronic proposal platforms such as Cendyn’s eProposal and Blue Buzzard’s Proposal Path which make it easy to record and include personal email messages. Yet I rarely see this being used. Similarly, these tools allow the hotel sales managers to customize the images and informational links that are included with proposals. Yet most of the time the salesperson includes the same standard images in each template, as well as all of the standardized links to information, even if irrelevant.

If salespeople are not using an electronic proposal system, they are instead sending back a response in a PDF format that includes an extensive proposal running 10 or 20 pages long, apparently not considering that the sales prospect is going to be overwhelmed when they receive the same style proposals from the all the other hotels. 

As a remedy, sales leaders should be providing training that is applicable in the real-world circa 2020, because those are the years we will soon be booking, if not already.

Instead, sales managers are still being trained exclusively on in-person communication skills, “using open-ended probing questions” and “feature-advantage-benefit” selling concepts that I was training people on in the 1990’s. 

Here are training tips that will secure more business by using technology to stand out in a crowded field.

  • Embrace video messaging.  When I talk about sales videos, most think of the slick, polished, high-budget ones that are put together by marketing or an outside specialist. It’s nice if your hotel has professional videos on its website and on its Youtube channel, but what I’m referring to is even better: one-to-one personalized video messaging. 
    • All one needs is a web-cam and tri-pod. There may be one on your laptop but that is probably going to shoot you at a bad angle. You can purchase one at Amazon or elsewhere for well under a hundred dollars and a few bucks more for professional lighting. You will use this in several ways.  First, if you have eProposal and ProposalPath/BlueBuzzard, always record and upload a short video message.
  • Use your new webcam for video email messaging. There are now a few inexpensive platforms on which one can record personalized video email messages directly for each prospect.  These are wonderful to send in addition to the traditional textual emails and platform responses in Cvent or The Knot.  They imbed the video right into the message (no link required) and it’s much more likely to be viewed. [(Email me for a sample
  • Use your webcam when you use screen-sharing tools.  Most hotel salespeople simply send a proposal and say “call if you have questions,” and a few say “I’ll give you a call to review this.”  The best response is “I’m in my office tomorrow between 3 pm and 5 pm and the day after between 9 am and 11 am, so please respond with a good time for us to connect to review this.” When they respond, send over a link for an online meeting using a tool such as (which is free), GoToMeeting, WebEx, or one of the many others available. When you start the meeting, just power-up the webcam.  Stand in front of your hotel logo and hold a white board with the prospect’s name written on it. 
  • Conduct virtual site tours. If you have an iPhone and the client does as well, you can use facetime to walk them through.  If not, you can use Skype or many other platforms such as Twitter’s Periscope or Facebook IM.  Or purchase a GoPro camera and walk them through the tour.
  • When using these tools, you can also bring in your support staff such as guest services managers, the chef, conference services staff, and other personalities to say a quick hello.

These are but a few of the ways in which we can stand out from the others in the market, who are most likely to be simply emailing back with a proposal or uploading a document into a platform.

If you are not ready to step fully into the world of video, at least make sure you are changing out the images in the proposal templates, personalizing the messaging by paraphrasing and restating details you have learned from the sender, and including local insider’s tips and helpful suggestions.  In addition, it’s a great time to use some old-school basics such as sending personal handwritten notes to sales prospects with whom you have corresponded electronically. Pick up the phone too. Even if you get voicemail, which is likely, at least you can make an impression with a brief, personalized message.

Doug Kennedy has been a regular contributor to the hotel and lodging industry’s most prominent publications since 1996. His monthly hotel articles on hotel training, sales, and hospitality related topics continue to inspire readers worldwide.

Categories: Sales
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