Carol Verret Consulting 
and Training
Training Seminars
Contrarian Strategies for Hotel Sales
Departments to Thrive in an
Economic Downturn



December 16, 2008 - This is the time for bold strategies and actions – when everyone else is ‘hunkered down’ it is time to get aggressive – if you go on the defensive in this economy, you’re toast!  Despite the dire predictions that are hitting us every day, there are hotels out there that are making money, on track with last year – a position that every hotel would welcome at this point.

In the latest forecast from PKF, they are predicting that REVPAR will decline by 7.8% nationwide next year.  “The expected 2.5 percent fall off in demand, combined with a 2.9 percent increase in supply, will result in a 2009 year-end occupancy level of 57.6 percent.  This represents a 5.3 percent decline in occupancy, and is 5.1 percentage points below the long-term average occupancy level for U.S. hotels tracked by STR of 62.7 percent.  “The combination of above average net increases of supply occurring simultaneously with dramatic declines in demand is something we have not seen in recent industry recessions.  This is what makes this downturn so severe,” Woodworth said. (December 9, 2008)   

Smith Travel in conjunction with declares the industry to have a 99.9% chance of slipping into recession.  Chief Economist Evangelos Simos of said, “Using the NBER methodology to identify the peaks and troughs of the business cycle, the peak was in November of 2007 for the industry.  Since then, the index has been declining and so far the recession is 13 months old.  Looking further at the six month growth rate, at this time, the recession appears to be similar to what the industry felt in late 1979 through early 1980, but not yet quite as bad as 2001.” (Smith Travel, December 9, 2008)  

The most effected markets are those that have the greatest entry of new hotel supply in the market, those that are dependent on airlift and have had capacities cut severely as well as leisure resorts that rely on disposable income, such as many of the ski resort areas.   However, even the properties located in these areas can have an impact on their business by not buying into the ‘doom and gloom’ chicken little syndrome that the nation and the industry has fallen victim to. 

There is a saying in the theatre that when everyone else on stag e is standing still, move  if you want to be noticed.  A contrarian strategy is similar in that when everyone else is paring down their expectations of the sales and marketing efforts, the contrarian strategy is to do the opposite.    

What are some of the contrarian best practices that successful hotels are implementing? 

  • Staff up the sales effort.  Many hotels were running fairly lean in the sales area when business was plentiful – no need for a lot of sales people when the phones were ringing off the hook.   Add quality people to the sales staff, build an awesome team to get business during the recession so that when the economy turns you will already have a solid market share penetration that will enable you to drive rate as demand rebounds.  
  • ‘Sell into’ the recession.  Don’t   just keep calling the same accounts in the obvious verticals in the database – you can only mine the database for so long.  It is time to actively and aggressively find new verticals and the prospects within those verticals.  For example, we know which market sectors are suffering – there are others that are doing well that either a) we didn’t bother to identify in the past or b) we felt that that the rates and or the type of business didn’t fit the revenue management strategy.  They probably would meet those qualifications now! 
  • Locate all accounts in the database in ‘healthy’ market sectors.   Map these accounts to ensure that you are getting all of the business.   Don’t stop at asking your contact for a referral to another department, ask what industry, trade or professional associations they belong to and who their representative(s) are.   Solicit government agencies that oversee or regulate these industries.  
  • Enable aggressive internet marketing campaigns.  Get aggressive about pay per click advertising.  We all know that the OTAs and aggregators sites appear on the first page of a key word search. Pay per clicks can position your hotel to be at the top or on the first page of the pay per clicks for those key words.  Monitor and measure – step up the budget for those that work and abandon those that don’t.
The contrarian strategy is that in these times it is not enough to just do more of ‘business as usual’ but to succeed new strategies must be developed based on economic realities in the market place.   This is an opportunity to learn new methods of targeting and selling that will serve the hotel and the individual sales person well in the New Year and beyond!

Carol Verret and Associates offer training options at various price points – invest in your people!   Also, watch for the book Hotel Sales & Revenue Management 2.0 coming in November.  Reserve your copy at  Carol Verret And Associates Consulting and Training offers training services and consulting in the areas of sales, revenue management and customer service primarily but not exclusively to the hospitality industry. To find out more about the company click on To contact Carol send her an email at or she can be reached by cell phone (303) 618-4065. Visit

copyright © Carol Verret, 2002-2003 -2004 -2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008

Carol Verret, Consulting and Training
Carol Verret
5910 S. University #C-18, PMB 374
Greenwood Village, CO 80121
Telephone: (303) 618-4065
Web Site:
Also See: ‘Selling Into’ a Bad Economy – Overcoming Fear and Stealing Share / Carol Verret / October 2008
Habits of Highly Successful Hotel Sales People – Accelerated Sense of Urgency / Carol Verret / September 2008
The Challenges and Opportunities for Independent and Boutique Hotels in a Difficult Economy / Carol Verret / August 2008
The Science of Hotel Sales* – The Benchmarking Imperative for Success in a Difficult Economy / Carol Verret / July 2008
Marketing & Revenue Management Plan 2009 - Succeeding in a Difficult Year / Carol Verret / July 2008
Tactics to Drive Business in a ‘Not So Hot’ Summer / Carol Verret / May 2008
All Marketers Are Liars - Web 2.0 Strategies for Hotel Sales and Marketing / Carol Verret / April 2008
Contingency Hotel Revenue Management Strategies 'I Will not Cut Prices'/ Carol Verret / March 2008
The Contingency Hotel Sales and Marketing Plan - Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst / Carol Verret / February 2008
Change is the Buzz – Rebooting Hotel Sales Activity at the Property Level / Carol Verret / January 2008
Habits of Highly Successful Revenue Managers Ramped Up for 2008 / Carol Verret / November 2007
Five Tips to Improving Hotel Customer Service with User Generated Reviews / Carol Verret / October 2007
Habits of Highly Successful Hotel Sales People – A Seismic Shift in 2008! / Carol Verret / September 2007
GMs – How User Generated Review Sites Can Make you a Better Manager! / Carol Verret / September 2007
Web 2.0 and Hotel Sales Strategies for '08; What Are Your Clients Saying About You? / Carol Verret / August 2007
“It’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast that eat the slow” -- Five Revenue Management Tactics for Independent Hotels / Carol Verett / June 2007
Developing New Hotel Business Using Client DNA / Carol Verret / May 2007
The Jigsaw Puzzle – The Fit of the Revenue Management and Internet Group Sales Pieces / Carol Verret / April 2007
Client DNA - The Gold Standard for New Business Development / Carol Verret / March 2007
The 'I Hate Cold Calls' Web Cast - The New Paradigm of Sales! / Carol Verret / February 2007
Hate Cold Calls? - Discover the New Paradigm of Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / January 2007
Issues in Hotel Sales Training - Metics for Success / Carol Verret / December 2006
Is the Party Over?; The Challenge of Decreasing Hotel Room Demand / Carol Verret / October 2006
The Habits of Highly Successful Hotel Sales People Ramp Up for 2006! / Carol Verret / September 2006
Identifying the WIIFM Factor – The Essential of Hotel Sales Success / Carol Verret / August 2006
Revenue Management for Hotel GMs – What You Don’t Know Can Jump Up and Bite You!/ Carol Verret / July 2006
Feeding the Revenue Elephant; Hotel Revenue Management / Summer 2006
The "Tipping Point" - Identifying the Touch Points in Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / May 2006
The "Tipping Point" - Touch Points Make a Difference in Customer Service Training / Carol Verret / April 2006
Selling Up! Taking Group Room Revenue to a New Level / Carol Verret / February 2006
Revenue Management 2006; The Risks and Rewards / Carol Verret /January 2006 
Revenue Management and Group Sales - The Partnership Not the Disconnect / Carol Verret / November 2005
Habits of Highly Successful Hotel Sales People / Carol Verret / September 2005
Triple Witching Hour - The Marketing Plan, Revenue Management Strategy and RFPs for '06 / Carol Verret / August 2005
"Smile" is a Learned Behavior - Creating a Culture of Customer Service / Carol Verret / July 2005
Revenue Management Systems -- Considerations for Evaluation / Carol Verret / June 2005
Disconnect -- Aligning the Revenue Management and Sales Strategies / Carol Verret / May 2005
Independent Hotels & Resorts; Ride the Wave or Float with the Tide? / Carol Verret / March 2005
Hospitality Sales Training Companies Reach Across the Competitive Playing Field to Combine Live Seminar Expertise with  the Convenience of the Internet / Carol Verret / January 2005
Revenue Management - The Challenge for Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / January 2005
Hotel Sales Departments -- Issues in Processes and Functionality / Carol Verret / November 2004
The GM'S Role in Revenue Management / Carol Verret / October 2004
Transforming the Hotel Sales Organization; Alignment with the New Realities of Sales / Carol Verret / August 2004
The Revenue Management Strategy - The Pre-Plan Marketing Plan / Carol Verret / July 2004
Hotel Revenue Management this Summer - a Game of Skill, Art and Most of All Nerves / Carol Verett / May 2004
What Do Meeting Planners Want? Hotel Sales Managers Want to Know! / Carol Verret / May 2004
Revenue Management -- The Integration of Revenue Drivers / Carol Verret / March 2004
CYBER SALES -- Hotel Sales in an Internet World is the New Reality / Carol Verret / February 2004
The New Realities of Hotel Sales - Focus on Revenue Generation / Carol Verret / January 2004
Hotel Sales -- Innovation in the Face of Limitations / Carol Verret / November 2003
The Good News & the Bad News; Improving Economy = New Hotel Development / Carol Verret / October 2003
Leadership - General Managers Managing the Sales Process / Carol Verret  / October 2003
When the Crystal Ball is Cloudy; Marketing Plans for 2004 / Carol Verret / July 2003
Partnership of Sales and Technology; Using Tech Tools to "Sell" the Hotels / Carol Verret  / July 2003
Back to the Basics? The Basics of Hotel Sales Have Changed! / May 2003
Creating Sales "HUNTERS": The Skill Sets Required in the New Hotel Sales Environment / April 2003
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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