The Perception of Hospitality Salespeople Needs to Change…For Good

By Ed Skapinok, Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing, Revenue and Reservations, Aqua-Aston Hospitality, and chair of HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board

It seems hard to believe, but there are voices in our industry who say that the profession of sales is no longer needed in hospitality. All business, they say, is either sourced through direct marketing efforts or arrives at a property in the form of online leads. Instead of a sales department, all that’s needed is a yield management system to accept the business that benefits the hotel and decline the business that doesn’t.

Where did this mindset come from? How could this even be possible?  Well salespeople, you might just have yourselves (and your predecessors) to blame.

Stereotypes of hotel salespeople walking door-to-door delivering boxes of donuts to offices “just in case they need a hotel” are damaging and long lasting. Put a group of them together in costumes on a “blitz” and it gets even worse. Do lawyers and CPAs do this when they prospect for new clients? If you were in need of legal representation, would you call an attorney just because his card was left on a bag of candy that was dropped at your hotel’s front desk?

With the emergence of sophisticated analytical revenue management tools and the involvement of asset managers and hotel owners who cherish them, hospitality salespeople need to show that they’ve become more sophisticated, too.  Asset managers and owners invest in things that make them money and divest the things that don’t. If there’s any question about whether salespeople add value to your hotel’s operation, do these things to eliminate that doubt:

  1. Become more business savvy. Prospect for business and sell your property as if you are the owner of it. Focus on finding the business that drives the right revenue at the top line so that it flows maximum profits to the bottom line.
  2. Do more listening than talking. Especially in meetings with clients and prospects, the buyer should be talking the majority of the time.  Of the time you are talking, most of that time should be spent asking questions about the buyer’s needs and pain points.
  3. Stop spamming people with junk food and junk email:  no donuts, no bags of candy, and no sending unsolicited emails describing your lobby and the view from your restaurant. Qualify prospects and then engage them in a conversation about their needs.
  4. Be less transactional, and build relationships. Get to know what’s important to your clients and their organizations and how you can help them achieve their goals. Doing so will ensure that you achieve yours.

Your actions and the results you achieve directly impact the perception of hospitality salespeople. Be proud of that and follow the points above to leave a meaningful impression…for good.

Recommended Resources for Salespeople

ARTICLE: Build Your Business Acumen: 108 Terms Every Hotel Sales Professional Needs to Know to Better Communicate with their GMs, Asset Managers, and Owners

ONLINE TRAINING & CERTIFICATION: Certified in Hospitality Business Acumen (CHBA)– online training course and professional certification in business acumen from HSMAI and REDGLOBAL


RO2Win – brush up on the essential concepts of revenue optimization and demonstrate how you contribute to your hotel’s profitability

Sales2Win – a series of self-paced online training programs for sales professionals looking to evolve into better business people who take a more strategic and consultative approach toward customer interactions.

RESEARCH: The Evolution of Sales: Perspectives and Realities Defining the Modern Sales Professional – especially relevant are “Selling Methods” through time (page ix) and “Chapter 5: The Modern Hotel Sales Skill Set” (starting on page 27)


Categories: Sales, Relationship Selling, Sales Strategies
Insight Type: Articles