Carol Verret Consulting 
and Training
Training Seminars

Creating Sales "HUNTERS": The Skill
Sets Required in the New Hotel Sales Environment

Carol Verret / April 2003
A colleague of mine suggested that what is needed now in hotel sales is "hunters" - what we have had in the recent past is "farmers." Since I first mentioned this distinction in January, it has provoked a great deal of interest and implicit agreement. Let's delineate how these two types of sales are different and why we now need "hunters." 
Any farmer can tell you that the most frustrating thing about farming is the lack of control over the environment needed to produce a crop. Drought (such as we have now in the hotel sales environment) means that fewer crops grow and those seeds that do come up produce plants of inferior quality (read lower yield).  The crop is diminished and revenue from "farming" declines. Pestilence (we could call this competition) disseminates the crop and makes less of the crop available for harvest (everyone is going after the same business). The "farmer" is dependent on the environment to generate revenue.
Hunters have a different perspective. Hunters go out and actively seek their revenue. If one type of "prey" (market segment) is in short supply, they shift gears and pursue another. Hunters are opportunistic - they have control over the environment (the market) because they can actively seek their prey (prospecting), develop a strategy to "attack" the prey and close on them - bringing them back to the home base. Hunters are not dependent on the environment - they actively adjust to the environment in which they are and control their activity to maximize the opportunities.
Farmers starve (read go out of business) because of their inability to harvest a crop (i.e., the phone doesn't ring!). Hunters only starve if they don't go out and pursue prey - it's the hunter's choice.
This should describe why the skill sets for "hunters" are dramatically different from those of "farmers." Can "farmers" be taught to be "hunters?" In many cases yes -- in others, no. However, every farmer deserves to be presented with the skill sets required to become a "hunter" and survive in a difficult environment. However, not all of them will pick up the tools and use them.
The following are some of the skill sets of "hunters" that can be broken down into specific training bytes:
New Business Development or Locating the "Prey." In the current hotel environment, some markets that were previously lucrative have diminished in volume. The corporate and association markets being two of these. This doesn't mean that there is not business to be had from these segments, but identifying where takes more time and strategy. This is a "hunter" skill that can be trained. The "hunter" also needs to identify different types of "prey" - those market segments that are less easy to locate and close but who are still relatively plentiful.
Developing the Strategy. There are several stages to this one but the first begins with research. A recent seminar participant said that she had begun researching a market segment but that it takes a great deal of time. It does - but this puts her way ahead of others who haven't begun the process. Smart hunters know that their chances of success improve when they research at which watering hole their prey is most likely to be and develop a strategy versus the hunters who simply spot a prey and charge, often unable to outrun the prey itself. The approach follows from the research and adds significantly to the success rate.
Closing on the Prey. Okay, this is where the analogy breaks down a bit. We want this to be pleasant experience for our "prey" to not only survive but also benefit from what the hotel has to offer. This includes the qualifying, presenting and closing stages. Building the relationship is also part of this stage.

It is also my observation that potential sales "hunters" are often frustrated by the attitudes of managers who are still operating in the paradigm that hotel sales people are essentially farmers. These managers are still operating on the assumptions that hotel sales is revenue management versus revenue generation. The skill set exercise is one that both can use. 
It is my mission to provide the industry with training that is not only useful but also cost effective. This is why the live real-time web cast series "Training Bytes: A WebCast Series for the Hospitality Industry" is available. Our first module, "Skill Sets for Hunters" is now being scheduled for May. Each Training Bytes Module includes a live presentation and an opportunity for information exchange among participants. Each module is brief, an hour long, and can be done from any PC.

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: 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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