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Heightened Security Requires New Strategies in Hotels Sales
The Extra Mile is the only Mile that Matters

Carol Verret / March 2003
The threat of looming war is taking an already elevated level of security to new heights. Public buildings, office towers and military installations are increasingly difficult to access. Hotels, especially large destination and gateway properties, are aware of the potential risks to guests and have their own security issues. This is likely to become more of an issue when and if the US goes to war in Iraq. 

The temptation on the part of hoteliers may be similar to that following September 11. Immediately following that event most businesses, including hotels and hotel companies, went into a temporary state of paralysis.  Business travel came to a screeching halt and hoteliers' first reaction was to look for ways to reduce expenses.

However, this time expenses have already been cut to the bone in many cases.

There are some hotels and hotel companies that included the marketing and sales function in their expense revisions. While there was often a great deal of 'flab' in these budgeted expenses, the smart companies measured their cuts against productivity and many have sought to provide enhanced training opportunities for their sales staff to enable them to cope with the new economic realty.

When we look at the travel trends following September 11, we see that corporations have pared down their business travel - this will be attenuated with the threat of terrorism again on US soil. Association and trade show attendance has been negatively impacted by the economy. (Travel Industry Association of America, The market segments that were once the backbone of hotel revenues can no longer be assumed to support property budgets.

Couple that increased level of security with the urgent need on the part of hotels to develop new business, a new approach to prospecting for new business has to be developed. A mainstay of 'backyard' marketing used to be to make cold calls on every commercial building within a certain radius. This simply will no longer work in major metropolitan areas. Access will be denied very quickly to those without appointments. Alternative markets take more time, skill and creativity to develop.

How then to ensure that a hotel is squeezing every bit of business out of their local markets? The following are but a few ideas and certainly not exhaustive. WARNING - This approach requires sales people to dig deeper for longer to maximize this opportunity. If management is not prepared to support the time and increased learning curve in new business development, read no further!

Develop and maintain a directory of businesses and associations in your market. If you have compiled a Territory Report in the past, you have a head start. If not, there are many business directories that you can buy. However, remember that once these directories are published, they are going out of date. Be sure to check the publication date so that you are not buying more directory information than you need. Go for a drive and walk into buildings. Write down the list of business and organizations on the inside directory so that you have an up to date list.
Research which industry sectors are outperforming the market. There is still corporate business out there, you will need to discover which industry sectors are thriving in this economy and go after them. An excellent tool for this is USA Today's weekly stock market sector report that tells you which industries as a whole are outperforming the market. (Bet many of you never read that USA Today in your lobby except for the Lifestyle section.)
Cross-reference the sector list against the directory. This will tell you the prospects in your market that in all likelihood are doing well and can pay your rate. The professional associations that serve these sectors are also likely to have strong attendance. For example, the pharmaceutical and medical supply sectors are performing reasonably well. Apart from the obvious, calling any pharmaceutical companies in your market, visit your local hospital and ask the purchasing department who their suppliers are and can you get a list or offer them a rate for those suppliers coming into town.
Explore alternative markets. Why we dump the SMERF market on the newest sales manager or the sales assistant (yes, some hotels actually do this), I'll never know. More than ever, this market requires a lot of creative 'digging' to uncover groups that you may have never considered before. My attorney's assistant clued me into an affinity group that I would never have thought about. I mentioned that I was going to a certain hotel to conduct a training seminar and she said that her Quilting Club had a meeting there. Who would have thought! Think of some other hobbies that have groups or clubs, go to shops or facilities that furnish supplies for them. They usually know who the clubs and the contacts.  PS. Now that the pharmaceutical companies and quilting clubs will be deluged with all of you calling, don't tell them it was me who sent you! 

These are just a very few of the things that hotels can do to redirect their sales efforts for new business development. Communicating with and qualifying these new leads also requires a different strategy than what has always been done before. That is the subject for another newsletter! 

Carol Verret, Owner of Carol Verret Consulting & Training, is a twenty-year veteran of the hotel industry. She arrived in Denver in 1984 in the midst of an economic downturn and quickly established herself as an expert in sales and marketing in hotel turn-around situations, applying her formula for REVPAR improvement. To learn more about Carol Verret, Consulting and Training, visit her web site at  Comments and feedback are appreciated and can be communicated via phone at (303) 618-4065 or email at [email protected]. Be sure to subscribe to Carol's free monthly newsletter: ResultsWoW Customer Service by sending an email to:[email protected] Put Subscribe in the subject line. 

copyright © Carol Verret, 2002-2003

Carol Verret
  3140 S. Peoria St, PMB 436
  Aurora, CO 80014
(303) 618-4065
Web Site:
Email: [email protected]
Also See: 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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