Hotel Online  Special Report

New Hotel Technology Surround Us; Yet
Face-to-face Selling is Still Most Productive
By: Neil Salerno, Hotel Marketing Coach June 2005

Automated sales and catering systems have grown in popularity and are weaving their way into ever smaller independent and franchised hotels. Once exclusive to the larger properties with considerable public space, these marvels of technology have proven themselves to be a good investment, over and over again.

Hotel sales & catering systems are great record and data storage instruments which enable hotels to track their business sources, solicit repeat business and even help maintain good rate management. In spite of this new technology, nothing can replace good old fashioned face-to-face contaact.

Frankly, I see nothing on the horizon which could replace the need to meet and greet potential clients. Many sales and catering systems allow users to formulate proposals and contracts and even email or fax them directly from a computer. This is great, but beware that we are not creating distance between us and our clients. Fax and email are wonderful tools but I see more and more sales people using these tools to avoid client contact.

The goal is and should be to get face-to-face with clients. As we use technology to assist in the solicitation of business, we should remember that this is still a relationship business. Frankly, I have seen many hotels getting wrapped up in all this new technology. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I have always been a staunch proponent of implementing new technology into our industry. I remember well the old days of IBM Selectric typewriters, carbon paper, and poorly written confirmation letters. We’ve come a long way from those  days. Are we now so jaded about technology that we are short-cutting the sales process?

The strongest sales programs still emphasize the need for developing a rapport with clients and I know of no better way to do that than face-to-face contact. How often do the general manager and/or the sales team entertain potential clients for breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Has email actually replaced phone contact? Email should be used to “confirm” conversations; not to replace them. 

There is so much talk about the Internet; many people view it as the panacea for all our occupancy woes. Fat chance. Oh, it’s a wonderful new gift to our industry, no doubt. But folks, it’s not a replacement for all the wonderful standard methods of soliciting new business. True, it’s a great tool for prospecting and finding business, but face-to-face meetings with potential clients are still the most effective means to book business.

The majority of room business for your hotel will still be booked through old fashioned person-to-person selling. Is your front desk up-to-speed with the rates and packages being sold online? Do you have an active front desk log to keep pace with rates being quoted,, turn-aways, and denials? Whether the log is kept in your front office system or in a log book, don’t allow technology to make us lazy about old systems that have worked well in the past? 

Brief mentions about using technology properly; have you checked to see that all fields in your front office system are being recorded for every check-in? I visited a hotel the other day whose front office decided it was too much work to ask guests for their email addresses. Not serious, I guess, unless the hotel decides to do an email mailing one day.

My caution is simple; technology needs to be managed like all other aspects of this business. It’s not meant to replace other means of doing the sales job, it’s meant to enhance them. The old basics still work. Create face-to-face opportunities to gain that relationship, which has worked so well for the hospitality industry for many years. Use technology to make the job easier; not to create short-cuts. 

The old concept of “pressing flesh” on a daily basis can’t be replaced by the Internet, email, voicemail, or fax machines. 



Neil Salerno
Hotel Marketing Coach

Also See: The Internet…The Great Equalizer For Independent Hotels / Neil Salerno / June 2005
Third-Party Booking Sites Still Dominate Internet Sales;  Why Do So Many Consider this Bad? / Neil Salerno / April 2005
Now That Online Hotel Booking Is Here to Stay, New Challenges Emerge / Neil Salerno / April 2005
Independent Boutique Hotels Can Compete With their Big Box Neighbors / Neil Salerno / April 2005
Who Are Your Most Important Guests? We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby! / Neil Salerno / March 2005
New Consumer Hotel Booking Preferences - They Love the Internet…Now What? / Neil Salerno / March 2005
Who Would Have Thought - Today's Hotel Marketing Necessity Is Also its Best Value / March 2005
Time For a Hotel Web Site “Make-Over”? Methods for Building a Successful Web Site Change / Neil Salerno / March 2005
Create Impact by Developing a Link Strategy For Your Hotel Web Site / Neil Salerno / February 2005
Steps to Develop Your Hotel's Presence on the Web / Neil Salerno / February 2005
Five Hotel Internet Marketing Myths - Busted!/ Neil Salerno / January 2005
How Does Your Hotel Web Site Measure-Up? 2005 Will Be the Internet’s Most Productive Year so Far / Neil Salerno / January 2005
Are You Being Out-Hustled By Your Competition? How to Dominate Your Hotel's Market Set / Neil Salerno / December 2004
Why Are Some Hotel Companies Plagued By Management Turnover? Is This Systematic of Poor Performance? / Neil Salerno / December 2004
Basic Components of a Hotel Website: Current Weather, Flash Animation, and Virtual Tours?? Plain Talk About Internet Sales / Neil Salerno / February 2004
Don’t Compromise Your Goals In 2004; Five New Year’s Resolutions You Will Want To Keep / Neil Salerno / January 2004
No More Whining About Third-Party Suppliers; You Control Your Own Fate On The Net / Neil Salerno / December 2003
Six 'Maxi’s' Guaranteed To Boost Hotel Sales / Neil Salerno / November 2003
It’s Time To Take Back Control Of Rates & Rooms - But Is The Enemy...Us? / Neil Salerno / November 2003
Booking Engines Are Like A Box of Chocolates...You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get! / Neil Salerno / October 2003
Hotel Web Site & Search Engine Optimization; Always A Work In Progress / Neil L. Salerno / October 2003
Hotel Budgets and Marketing Plans; Oh No, Is It That Time Again? / Neil L. Salerno / September 2003
Increasing Hotel Internet Sales Is Not Rocket Science...And It Doesn’t Have To Be Costly Either / Neil L. Salerno / September 2003
Are You Treating Third Party eWholesalers As Competititon Or a Valuable Marketing Partner? / Neil L. Salerno / August 2003
How Often Have You Heard, 'I could have gotten a better rate but the client saw our rates on the Internet' ? It’s Time To Get Back To Selling Location, Facilities, and Services / Neil L. Salerno / August 2003
Before You Begin that Marketing Plan Challenge Your Sales Team; Expect More and Get More / Neil L. Salerno / July 2003
Jump Up and Shout Yes - Delivering Best Online Customer Experience, Nice Job Vividence! / Neil L. Salerno / July 2003
Is The Internet Delivering On Its Promise? Well, It Depends on How you Look at It / Neil L. Salerno / June 2003
Coaching and Mentoring, Sometimes A New Paradigm Can Go A Long Way / Neil L. Salerno / June 2003
Sales Training Works Well, But Sales Mentoring Makes It More Effective; Mentoring Lasts a Lifetime / Neil L. Salerno / May 2003
Is It Time For A Sales Tune-up? How Healthy Was Your Last Forecast? / Neil L. Salerno / May 2003
Hotel Web Sites; Want it Creative or Effective? / Neil L. Salerno / May 2003
If You Always Do What You Have Always Done.... You’ll Always Get What You Always Got! Hotelier’s Mantra... Thinking Outside The Box / Neil L. Salerno / April 2003
Good Sales Planning - The Basics Still Work / Neil L. Salerno / April 2003

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