Carol Verret Consulting 
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Identifying the WIIFM Factor – 

The Essential of Hotel Sales Success

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by Carol Verret, August 2006 

Hotel Sales Training that focuses on the sales process alone misses the point. There is no shortage of hotel sales people that know the process.  The pace of business is so fast that a salesperson that continues to go through the ‘steps’ often fails to hear buying signals.

Has anyone noticed in those Smith Travel reports that the demand side of the REVPAR equation is little bit delicate?  Mark Woodruff of PKF points out the implications of that in a new study. “While the number of hotel rooms occupied will continue to grow at a 1.4 percent pace, the number of new accommodations is projected to increase by 2.0 percent in 2007.  The net result is a forecast of a slight 0.6 percent decline in occupancy for the nation’s largest lodging markets.”   

The implications of this is that hotel sales people will be competing for business in 2007 and the trend that Mr. Woodruff outlines is expected to continue with Lodging Econometrics forecasting 119,426 new units in the pipeline for 2007 and 131,517 for 2008.  Hotel sales people will have to find new ways of differentiating themselves from the hundreds of other hotel sales people vying for the same piece of business. 

To a client the WIFFM (What’s In It For Me) is the most important thing.  When product and rate are relatively the same, a sales person who can zero in on what’s ‘personally’ the most important thing to a customer is likely to make the sale.    Hotel sales people who can figure this out offer a powerful differentiation from the rest of the field. 

In a recent seminar program, I asked the group please don’t tell me that you are still sending those letters with bullet points that outline coffee makers, irons and boards, etc.  An owner looked up at me and asked why not? The answer unfortunately is that nobody cares.  The ‘commoditiztion’ of hotel rooms has made it so that those things are minimum expectations – everyone has those as well as TVs, beds, etc.   

So in a world where the vast majority of hotels and rooms are relatively similar, what makes the difference?   A hotel and a hotel sales person that can give the client what they want.  Finding out what they want is the most important thing a sales person can do.

Sales people are preoccupied with the ‘pitch’ – outlining every feature and every product that they can offer. When they are done, they pause as if waiting for the client to applaud.  Even after the client gives them a buying signal that they are ready to buy, the sales person proceeds with the ‘process’ until they get the section on ‘close’ – nobody has time for that anymore.

From the first contact or approach, a sales person has to offer the client a benefit, a WIIFM, for engaging in a dialogue with them.  People are just too busy to waste their time retuning a message, (they have way too many to return), or responding to an email unless there is something in it for them.

How do you find out the WIIFM?

  • Do the research.  Go online and check out the web site, go to Hoovers and check out their numbers.  Is their revenue up or down, what does this mean for the contact person?  Find out where they had this event last year – are you a comparable facility?
  • Ask your current clients in similar positions, “Why do you use our property”.   If you are using the DNA model of new business development, you have clients similar to the one you want to approach.  Existing accounts are a wealth of info about the hotel and why they use us – we just seldom ask them. 
  • Put your self in their position.  Imagine that you are the prospect that you need to reach. What does the prospect’s world look like?  If you can’t imagine your way into being them, find someone in a similar position and spend some time observing their world.  What would be important if it were you?
  • When you make contact, ask them what is important in their hotel selection.   They will always say rate first because if they don’t they are afraid that the sales person might overcharge them but that is usably not the deciding factor.  Sales people tend to get stuck in the ‘qualifying’ step asking things like number of rooms, arrival/departure pattern  -- important to us but we almost never ask them what is the most important thing to them.   
Certain market segments are easier to figure out than others but one common response to this question is to make it easy.  Staples isn’t selling a bunch of those Easy Buttons by coincidence.  We all are so busy we just want someone to make something easy.

The client wants a hotel that gets their reservations right, their rooming list correctly entered, and the catered function is on time, etc.  Finally, they want accurate and timely billing – this all equates to EASY!  

Go to Staples – buy a case of those EASY Buttons.  Ship or take one to every new business prospect you are having difficulty closing and write a note that says, “This is what will happen when you book your next event at our hotel!”

Be prepared to deliver EASY!
 




Carol Verret And Associates Consulting and Training offers training services and consulting in the areas of sales, revenue management and customer service primarily but not exclusively to the hospitality industry. To find out more about the company click on  www.carolverret.com. To contact carol send her an email at  carol@carolverret.com or she can be reached by cell phone (303) 618-4065.

copyright © Carol Verret, 2002-2003 -2004 -2005 - 2006


 
Contact:
Carol Verret, Consulting and Training
Carol Verret
5910 S. University #C-18, PMB 374
Greenwood Village, CO 80121
Telephone: (303) 618-4065
carol@carolverret.com
Web Site: http://www.carolverret.com/
Email: carol@carolverret.com
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Also See: Revenue Management for Hotel GMs – What You Don’t Know Can Jump Up and Bite You! / Carol Verret / July 2006
Feeding the Revenue Elephant; Hotel Revenue Management / Summer 2006 
The "Tipping Point" - Identifying the Touch Points in Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / May 2006
The "Tipping Point" - Touch Points Make a Difference in Customer Service Training / Carol Verret / April 2006
Selling Up! Taking Group Room Revenue to a New Level / Carol Verret / February 2006
Revenue Management 2006; The Risks and Rewards / Carol Verret /January 2006 
Revenue Management and Group Sales - The Partnership Not the Disconnect / Carol Verret / November 2005
Habits of Highly Successful Hotel Sales People / Carol Verret / September 2005
Triple Witching Hour - The Marketing Plan, Revenue Management Strategy and RFPs for '06 / Carol Verret / August 2005
"Smile" is a Learned Behavior - Creating a Culture of Customer Service / Carol Verret / July 2005
Revenue Management Systems -- Considerations for Evaluation / Carol Verret / June 2005
Disconnect -- Aligning the Revenue Management and Sales Strategies / Carol Verret / May 2005
Independent Hotels & Resorts; Ride the Wave or Float with the Tide? / Carol Verret / March 2005
Hospitality Sales Training Companies Reach Across the Competitive Playing Field to Combine Live Seminar Expertise with  the Convenience of the Internet / Carol Verret / January 2005
Revenue Management - The Challenge for Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / January 2005
Hotel Sales Departments -- Issues in Processes and Functionality / Carol Verret / November 2004
The GM'S Role in Revenue Management / Carol Verret / October 2004
Transforming the Hotel Sales Organization; Alignment with the New Realities of Sales / Carol Verret / August 2004
The Revenue Management Strategy - The Pre-Plan Marketing Plan / Carol Verret / July 2004
Hotel Revenue Management this Summer - a Game of Skill, Art and Most of All Nerves / Carol Verett / May 2004
What Do Meeting Planners Want? Hotel Sales Managers Want to Know! / Carol Verret / May 2004
Revenue Management -- The Integration of Revenue Drivers / Carol Verret / March 2004
CYBER SALES -- Hotel Sales in an Internet World is the New Reality / Carol Verret / February 2004
The New Realities of Hotel Sales - Focus on Revenue Generation / Carol Verret / January 2004
Hotel Sales -- Innovation in the Face of Limitations / Carol Verret / November 2003
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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