Hotel Online  Special Report

The Best Hotel Sales Director I Ever Met
What Do The Good Ones Have in Common?


By: Neil Salerno – November 2005

I was overwhelmed by the many emails I received from my article describing “The Best General Manager I Ever Met”. Thank you all; it appears that many people recognized the same traits. It seems natural to follow-up with the supremely important position of sales director. Everything begins with a sale, as they say; what can be more important than that?

Hotels delegate a wide variety of duties and responsibilities to the position of sales director. Most hotels include catering, if they offer it; some include marketing responsibilities such as advertising and public relations; many include revenue management, and still others include reservations, etc. The basic talent and experience of the sales director generally determines the scope of responsibilities, which are entrusted to them. For purposes of this article, we will address sales responsibilities; most important and common to all.

For those smaller hotels, without a budget for a sales person, the general manager assumes the sales responsibility. No matter who is wearing the sales hat, the goal is the same; drive new business.

The Best Sales Director I ever met, first and foremost, has an insatiable curiosity.

At first blush, this may seem like a rather insignificant trait; but people, blessed with curiosity, will excel in their job through the process of satisfying their need to learn. Curious people crave new information; consistently seeking answers to solve sales challenges. 

In recent years sales challenges have taken many twists and turns; without an innate curiosity for this business, one can quickly become obsolete in techniques and efficiency. 

Curious people go through life and their careers seeking new techniques, refining those techniques, to solve the constant challenges of their job. Others plateau too early; doing just enough to get through their daily tasks with ever diminishing success. 

The best sales director I ever met is constantly evolving, learning, and improving. 

The Best Sales Director I ever met stays current with new technology.

The best sales director has already discovered the many ways the Internet can benefit the sales effort. From researching the competition’s rates and sales data to finding new prospects, the Internet has changed the way we sell hotel rooms. 

The best sales director knows that no hotel operates in a vacuum and that we can learn to dominate our competition by collecting data and acting upon it. 

The best sales director I’ve ever met uses third-party web sites to promote the hotel, knowing that these partner tools are a short-cut to producing needed room business. The best sales director has learned to expand the hotel’s sales reach by creating a good link strategy on the hotel’s web site and consistently checks its effectiveness.

The Best Sales Director I ever met seeks to involve the general manager and others in the sales process. 

The process of selling is definitely not a one person show. Recently, while talking to a client, he revealed to me that he is an engineer by education and training. For many years, he provided technical support to his company’s sales division. It wasn’t long before I realized how great his company’s sales director must have been. 

The pride he expressed in the sales successes of the company demonstrated that he and his department were personally involved in the sales process. We talked about how his engineering division interacted with sales to produce the best marketable products. This kind of teamwork only comes from invitation and cooperation. 

It amazes me how many hotel companies actually promote a separation of operations and sales. It usually happens in subtle ways; meetings with the sales team, excluding the general manager; the common references to sales without any mention of the fact that sales is everyone’s job.

The best sales director invites involvement in the sales process. How often have we all heard general managers and others pleaded that they could have made more profit if only the sales people could produce more sales; a distinct separation of responsibilities. 

The front desk can be the sales director’s best sales team or its worse detractor. The best sales director cultivates a positive relationship with all hotel departments. 

The best sales director I ever met shares sales successes with the entire hotel team and understand that they need everyone to contribute to the sales process.

The Best Sales Director I ever met knows that hotel sales is a numbers game. 

Making contact with as many people as possible is an important part of being successful in hotel sales. I have heard so much rubbish about “quality versus quantity” in sales contacts; it’s difficult not to explode when I hear arguments from “quality” proponents. 

When it comes to contacts, anyone can become a quality prospect, but that takes probing. As the old saying goes, ‘you got to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince”. People who short-cut the process by only seeking a prince who looks and acts like a prince, are going to waste a lot of potential selling time. 

Quality selling techniques enter the picture only after a potential client is identified; until then the best sales director I ever met talks to and probe everyone possible. This sales director gets a lot of phone calls and emails; it takes activity to produce activity. 

I enjoy taking a seat in the sales office to see how often the telephone rings. When the phone rings off the hook, it’s usually a result of having made aggressive sales contacts. 

The Best Sales Director I ever met knows that clients, not policy, determine our services.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard sales people say “we can’t do that” or worse, “our policy is” because they don’t want to take the time to find a way to fulfill a client’s request. As long as one can make the task profitable for the hotel, anything can be done. 

Careful probing, planning, and execution could make almost any request beneficial to the hotel. Clients don’t care about our “policies” and procedures; they want answers. If a sales director has involved the hotel team in the sales process, it’s amazing what can be accomplished. 

It may be a radical example, but years ago a client asked to have a beach party in our lounge. Close the bar for a private beach party? The client was informed about the major additional cost involved. The general manager offered that the company was planning to renovate the lounge. After everyone’s agreement, we actually filled the lounge with two tons of sand to enhance the party. In addition to paying all the costs involved, we also benefited from over 1200 room nights from the group, at a time we needed it most. 

The Best Sales Director I ever met cares.

We all enjoy success; meeting or surpassing budgeted sales is what we are paid to do, but everyone experiences set-backs. The best sales director I ever met cares enough to learn from set-backs and develops tactics and strategies to offset them. 

The best sales director feels the pain of minor failures but doesn’t cave-in nor ignore them. Some people measure effectiveness from activity, but the best measure effectiveness comes from accomplishments. This takes caring and pride. 

The best sales director channels the pain of failure into positive action and great successes into examples for the future. Caring is sometimes an elusive trait; it can’t be learned. If someone on your team has it, you are fortunate indeed.


Neil Salerno, C.H.M.E., C.H.A.
The Hotel Marketing Coach

Also See: The Best Hotel General Manager I Ever Met / Neil Salerno / October 2005
What’s your eMarketing Proficiency? Using Electronic Marketing Tools / Neil Salerno / October 2005
When Times Get Tough…Get Tougher! Sell Harder Before You Cave-in on Rates / Neil Salerno / September 2005
The Web Site Conundrum…Are You Winning the Electronic Marketing Game? / Neil Salerno / August 2005
Lions and Tigers and Bears…Oh My; The Hotel Yellow Brick Road is Less Scary than It Used to Be / Neil Salerno / August 2005
Running Dry on Good Hotel Ideas? It’s not What You Know - It’s Who You Know / Neil Salerno / July 2005
Revenue Grabbing Tips for Independent Hotels; Start Thinking Like the Chains / Neil Salerno / July 2005
Hotel Web Basics That Really Work…Content is King / Neil Salerno / July 2005
Hotel Supplier Sites versus Online Travel Agents; The War Chronicles / Neil Salerno / June 2005
New Hotel Technology Surround Us; Yet Face-to-face Selling is Still Most Productive / Neil Salerno / June 2005
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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