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Lessons from the Field
A Common Sense Approach to Success in the Hospitality Industry
By Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE, November 11, 2008

Enthusiastic and Sincere Attitudes Will Pay Off For Hotel Salespeople

By Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA MHS
November 11, 2008
Participation in community activities, done whole-heartedly builds a
free outside sales staff sending business to you 
Don Campbell, former President, Hospitality Motor Inns
(Quote founded in Educational Institute’s HOSPITALITY FOR SALE)

Having an enthusiastic attitude is important in being successful in any line of work. While there's nothing new about that maxim, it certainly bears repeating especially when you're talking about sales. Combining enthusiasm with sincerity is obvious.

A lack of enthusiasm reflects a poor attitude. If a hotel salesperson or any staff members are not enthusiastic about his company, the hotel and its management and staff, and if he's not excited about meeting the needs of his customers, then there's a good chance he won't make the sale.  

This is a critical consideration for an owner or owner/operator who does not feel comfortable or who does not like making sales calls.  The general manager or owner is frequently the most effective person making sales calls due to the power of the title, but only if that person has enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm is the first observable aspect of a person's attitude, and a person can reflect it without ever having to speak a word. One's attitude is expressed mainly through nonverbal communication.

If you want proof of this, watch the people around you. Notice their facial expressions, their eyes, their body language, and their posture. Can you detect positive attitudes? Sure you can, it’s easy.

Can people detect this in you? Of course. 

Prospects will remember your enthusiasm or your deadpan message. Generally, we all like to associate socially and do business with people who have a positive attitude. While a prospect may not buy every time, he certainly will remember enthusiastic people the next time he's ready to book space for a client.

Of course, it's naive to think that every day is going to be a great day. With that in mind, can someone have a positive attitude even when he's having a bad day?
Certainly, successful professionals in all fields and consistent salespeople do it all the time. It requires a little acting sometimes, but it's mostly just a matter of putting a smile on your face.
There's something magic about a smile.  First of all, it brightens one's own spirits. If you're having a bad day, feeling down, having the blahs or just tired, try this: Put on an act for an hour and smile. Have a "smile" in your voice when you're on the phone. Never walk by a person without saying “hello" with a smile. If you have a chance, look at yourself in the mirror with a smile – you’ll notice the difference in yourself with an improved outlook.

This is not being overly optimistic here. It should only take an hour or so before you start feeling better about yourself and better about things in general. And you'll probably keep smiling and feel enthusiastic the rest of the day. Your associates may wonder what happened, but let them! That's their problem.
There's something about a smile that's contagious; like enthusiasm, a smile is catching.  Another thing that is both self-motivating and contagious is whistling.  It can’t be something blue, but whistling a “happy” tune you like will positively turn heads, initiate conversations and make others smile.

It's great to work with people who are enthusiastic. As a salesperson for your hotel, you should be recognized as the most enthusiastic member of your property's staff. You will automatically be the “carrier" of this contagious thing that we call enthusiasm. Pretty soon the entire staff will get caught up in this wonderful feeling, and then what happens? The contagion starts spreading to the guests, and they start feeling good about staying at your property.

When you're out on calls, whether prospecting or selling, the proper attitudes will open doors. People who aren't enthusiastic don't make sales!  If a salesperson is enthusiastic about the property, it reflects confidence and seller's confidence results in buyer's confidence and again, it's catching.
There's no question about it: your attitude can help you sell more. Salespeople need to develop a special kind of attitude that makes them feel they will be successful. The ingredients for this special kind of "success attitude" include:

  • a smile
  • enthusiasm for the company, including the property auditors,  management, staff, service and quality
  • belief in the product and service value and pricing
  • a personal concern for the needs of your prospective customers.
This kind of attitude will also help lead to success within your own organization. All  you  need  to  do  is  follow this advice: "Be proud of where you work, so that where you work will be proud of you."
Questions of the day
These questions are offered to stimulate discussion about the way we do business.  There is not necessarily only one “correct” answer – the reason for this section of the column is to promote an awareness of how we might all improve our operations.  Consider using these or similar questions at staff meetings encourage your team to THINK!
  1. When was the last time you as an owner or manager sat down with the person responsible for sales to discuss more than pure numbers or calls made?
  2. If you are a sales manager, when was the last time you evaluated your approach? Your enthusiasm for the hotel?
  3. Regardless of your title, given the economy, when was the last time you reviewed the product and service value/pricing
  4. Do you demonstrate a personal concern for the needs of your prospective customers in your daily interactions? 

Feel free to share an idea at anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops or speaking engagements.  Autographed copies of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES can be obtained from THE ROOMS CHRONICLE and other industry sources. 

All rights reserved by John Hogan.   This column may be included in an upcoming book on hotel management.

John Hogan’s professional experience includes over 35 years in hotel operations, food & beverage, sales & marketing, training, management development and asset management on both a single and multi-property basis.  He holds a number of industry certifications and is a past recipient of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging Journalism, as well as operational and marketing awards from international brands.  He has served as President of both city and state hotel associations.

John’s background includes teaching college level courses as an adjunct professor at three different colleges and universities over a 20 year period, while managing with Sheraton, Hilton, Omni and independent hotels.  He was the principal in an independent training & consulting group for more than 12 years serving associations, management groups, convention & visitors’ bureaus, academic institutions and as an expert witness.  He joined Best Western International in spring of 2000, where over the next 8 years he created and developed a blended learning system as the Director of Education & Cultural Diversity for the world’s largest hotel chain. 

He has served on several industry boards that deal with education and/or cultural diversity and as brand liaison to the NAACP and the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association with his ongoing involvement in the Certified Hotel Owner program.  He has conducted an estimated 3,100 workshops and seminars in his career.  He served as senior vice president for a client in a specialty hotel brand for six years.

He has published more than 350 articles & columns on the hotel industry and is co-author (with Howard Feiertag, CHA CMP) of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES, which is available from a range of industry sources and  He resides in Phoenix, Arizona and is finalizing his 2nd book based on his dissertation –     The Top 100 People of All Time Who Most Dramatically Affected the Hotel Industry.


Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE

Also See: Unleash the Potential! Recognize the True Value of Your Front Line Sales People / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / November 2008
Defining Hospitality - Readers Respond with their Insights / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / October 2008
Understanding the Value and Power of Breakfast / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / October 2008
A Bakers Dozen of Strategies for Hotel Restaurant Managers / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / October 2008
A Bakers Dozen of Strategies for Hotel Food and Beverage Directors / Hotel Common Sense / John Hoganv/ September 2008
My Definition of Hospitality. What’s Yours? / Dr. John Hogan / September 2008
Principles for Success as a Hotel Manager: 6 Observations on Finding and Employing Problem Solvers / Dr. John Hogan / September 2008
10 Hotel Sales Action Steps to Succeed in Today’s Competitive Marketplace / Dr. John Hogan / September 2008
10 Hotel Sales Mistakes to Avoid in Today’s Competitive Marketplace / Dr. John Hogan / August 2008
Ways to Identify and Build Repeat Guests / Dr John Hogan / August 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Maintaining Relationships Throughout the Organization / Dr John Hogan / August 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Part four: Communicating with Clarity and Candor / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Part three: Using your management style effectively / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Part Two: Motivating the Team / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager Part One: Understanding the Organization / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008 
Updating Hotel Marketing and Sales Strategies Mid Year NOW Is Essential / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
Don’t Underestimate the Impact of the Hotel Sales Office / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
Factors for Successful Interviewing Potential Hotel Sales Candidates / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
The Importance of Meaningful Sales Team Job Descriptions / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
For Hotels with Limited Service, Fewer than 100 Rooms - How Do You Determine if You Need a Person Dedicated to Selling / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
Extending Your Sales Team or Make Travel Agents A Regular Part of Your Sales Programs / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
Finding Business Leads Can Be Easier Than You Think / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
Understanding the Differences Between Marketing and Sales / Dr. John Hogan / April 2008
Identifying Your Customers / Lessons from the Field A Common Sense Approach to Success in the Hospitality Industry / Dr. John Hogan / April 2008

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