New Generation of Hotel Sales Professionals:
Lesson #7

By David M. Brudney, ISHC, May 2007
(seventh in a series)
Show me a successful, highly respected hospitality Sales professional and I’ll show you someone who has mastered the art of developing referrals.

No greater compliment can be paid to a hospitality Sales pro than to have a prospect call to book a piece of business because “John Jones (a client of the Sales pro) told me I should call you.”

Now keep in mind, referrals don’t just “happen”.  They develop from a process that usually takes time.

Referrals have to be earned

Good hospitality Sales pros develop referrals by taking care of business first:

Exceed Client Expectations.  After you’ve booked a group, do everything possible to see that your client’s expectations have been exceeded.  How will you know that?  The client will tell you.  If the client doesn’t, you have to ask.

Personal Contact.  Never let the client depart from your property without meeting personally, making sure the client has everything needed, and say “thank you” for the business.  Post-convention or conference meetings don’t count.  You must do it in person, one-on-one.

Follow Up.  Send a hand-written personal note to the client to be received a day or two after the event.  A phone call and/or personal Sales call to the client’s office within two weeks at which time you can ask about  feedback and any success stories since the event.       You can use that valuable time also to reconfirm a repeat booking (if applicable), in case you didn’t nail that down at the event’s conclusion.

Drilling into the Account.  If you have not done so before, this is an excellent opportunity to “drill” into the account - -  “up, down, and out”.  Ask for the names of (and introductions to) other executives and event planners in or connected with that organization. 

For example (up), perhaps the CEO or general manager serve as board members or site selection committees of national, regional or state associations and professional societies. 

Perhaps (down) a Sales manager lower on the totem pole at that company has a Sales meeting coming up with no property in mind.

And perhaps (out) this particular organization has strategic partners, website linked or not, or preferred vendors, some of whom may have new business to book. 

Testimonials.  Many clients - - typically upon being asked - - will write testimonial letters after a very successful event and/or when the Sales pro or the property staff exceeded the client’s expectations.  Testimonials can be extremely useful tools when soliciting similar-type business.

But the best Sales pros are always on the lookout for those great referrals.  Referrals represent instant credibility and value with the potential buyer. 

Why are referrals so valuable?  Because typically they come so unexpectedly.  You didn’t have to expend the time, money nor effort to get the booking.  No, the referral came because of the work you’ve done previously and because you earned it. 

Timely referrals can lead to bookings when the Sales pro is having a slow (booking) month or quarter and is in need of making his/her numbers.

The very best time to ask

When is the best time to ask a satisfied client for a referral?  At the very moment the satisfied client has given his/her thanks for a job well done.

“I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done”

“I don’t know how we would have pulled this off without you”

“This was by far the best meeting overall we’ve ever had”

Hearing those words - - that’s when the very best Sales pros respond with:
“Thank you.  You know, the best thanks of all would be to give me the names of 2-3 decision makers/planners so we could do the same good job for them!”
In my four decades of experience in hospitality Sales, I have yet to come across a satisfied client that - - upon being asked to do so - - failed to supply a couple of names and contact info that led me to booking new business.

Never forget that planners talk to each other and they share the good and bad experiences. 

Some satisfied clients will take ownership of the whole referral process.  I’ve had satisfied clients make phone calls to prospective clients, give great testimonials, some have even arranged introductory lunch meetings.  And insisted on picking up the tab, to boot!

Be sure and look for referral opportunities everywhere and anytime.  I recommend one a month, 12 a year for new hospitality Sales professionals.  If you can pick up 12 referrals a year, you are on your way to a long and successful career in hospitality Sales.

And don’t be surprised if a referral comes some day from one of your competitors who can’t accommodate and who holds you and your property in high regard.

What’s next?  Sales Lesson #8: Dealing with today’s new meeting planner. 

© Copyright 2007 

David M. Brudney, ISHC, is a veteran sales and marketing professional concluding his fourth decade of service to the hospitality industry.  Brudney advises lodging owners, lenders, asset managers and operators on sales and marketing “best practices” and conducts reviews of sales and marketing operations throughout the U.S. and overseas.  The principal of David Brudney & Associates of Carlsbad, CA, a sales and marketing consulting firm specializing in the hospitality industry since 1979, Brudney is a frequent lecturer, instructor and speaker.  He is a charter member of International Society of Hospitality Consultants.  Previously, Brudney held sales and marketing positions with Hyatt, Westin and Marriott.


David M. Brudney, ISHC, Principal 
David Brudney & Associates 
Carlsbad, CA 
760-476-0830 Fax 760-476-0860 

Also See Relationship Building - New Generation of Hospitality Sales Professionals Lesson #6 / David Brudney / April 2007
Site Inspections New Generation of Hospitality Sales Professionals Lesson #5 / David Brudney / March 2007
Mood of Hotel Investors and Operators is Euphoric / David Brudney / February 2007
“Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer” Know Your Hotel Competition: Lesson #4 / David Brudney / January 2007
Hotel Owners Nightmare: Money Left on the Table / David Brudney / December 2006
New Generation of Hospitality Sales Professionals Lesson #3: Selling Time Balance / David Brudney / November 2006
New Generation of Hospitality Sales Professionals Lesson #2: Want to be Successful? Start by Packing your own 'Chute / David Brudney ISHC / October 2006
Managing the Consultant: Careful Not to Doom the Project / David M. Brudney / September 2006
You Cannot Microwave Experience: New Generation of Hotel Sales Professionals - Lesson 1 / David Brudney / August 2006
New Breed of Hotel Sales Associates Lacking Curiosity? Maybe it’s Not a Generational Thing / David Brudney ISHC / July 2006
Generation X Hotel Sales Associates: All Important Curiosity Factor Missing? / David Brudney / June 2006
Physical Therapy Sessions: A Good Reminder for Professional Selling Fundamentals / David M. Brudney / April 2006
Hotel Marketing Starts Locally; Never Forget Your Neighbors / David M. Brudney / March 2006
Notes from the ALIS Conference / David Brudney / February 2006
General Managers Workshop: Managing Today's Hotel Sales Teams / July 2005
Owners & Asset Managers: Need Expert Advice, Referral? Ask A Trusted Consultant / David M. Brudney, ISHC / May 2005
Larry May: The Passing Of Another Hotel Soldier / David Brudney ISHC / April 2005
Hotel Owners: Better, Worse or About the Same? / David Brudney ISHC / December 2004
Let’s Put Bush and Kerry Through the RFP Process / October 2004
Bev Kordsmeier, Hyatt Sales’ First Lady / April 2004
Message to Hotel Sales Associates: “It’s Not You!”/ January 2004
What Innkeepers Want Every Christmas? Fill Those Empty Rooms / December 2003
Uncertain Times Call for Return to Backyard Basics / April 2003
Time to “Group Up”?  Maybe, Maybe Not / May 2002
America’s Front Desk  Fights Back! / January 2002
Front Desk Fails To Catch America’s Hospitality Spirit / David Brudney ISHC / November 2001
A Very Good Time For That Sales Audit / David Brudney ISHC / Sept 2001 
More Theater, Less Zombies / David Brudney ISHC / Dec 2000 
It’s The Experience, Stupid! / David Brudney ISHC / Nov 2000 

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