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Adapting to Change:
Hotel Sales Professionals New Year’s Checklist


David M. Brudney, ISHC, January, 2011

I was driving home from having my car serviced early last month and my mind was on the much-anticipated Holidays and visits with family and friends home and away.  Suddenly, I became aware that I might have missed an important turn and might be lost.  How could this be?  I had made this same trip - - less than five miles from home - - problem-free dozens of times over the years. 
Why was this familiar trip so different this time?  And then it hit me: Daylight saving time had ended a few weeks back, and it was now very dark outside.  All those previous trips back and forth to the dealership, each taking the exact same route, had been done during daylight hours. 
Once I realized I was not having one of those senior moments, I was able to collect myself, identify exactly where I was, and work my way back home safe and sound.
The incident reminded me of how easy it is for those of us who sell for a living to become too familiar - - perhaps too comfortable - - with the routine of how, where and when we conduct our business.  How adaptive are we when the playing field shifts slightly?  How quickly are we prepared to adjust to something unexpected, something as simple as daylight saving time ending?  How quickly are we prepared to adjust to new situations and to changes in our familiar working landscape?
Consider the changes impacting meeting planners these past few years.  Budgets and staffs have been cut severely.  Large and small meetings have been forced to cancel or postponed indefinitely.  Planners have had more and more tasks placed on their plates.  Many planners will tell you they are overworked, underpaid and under valued by superiors.  And then there’s a whole new generation of meeting planners without the experience of their predecessors - - so much in need of knowledge and expertise; unfortunately for them, new barriers are in place (new policies, security issues, and time restraints) that make connecting and relationship building with seasoned hotel sales professionals more difficult.
Adapting to change
I remember clearly a professor writing on a blackboard in college so many years ago, “The only thing constant in life is change.” 
Yes, I read Spencer Johnson’s book “Who Moved My Cheese” more than a decade ago, so I should always be prepared to deal with change.  The biggest, of course, were the arrival of the Internet and more recently through the various social media channels.
Dr. Johnson’s message was clear: change happens, anticipate change, monitor change, adapt to change quickly, change, enjoy change, and be ready to quickly change again and again.
I believe it was Sir Winston Churchill who said, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
Here’s a laundry list of issues for hotel sales professionals to test if any “changes” might be in order; to see what changes might be in order for present and future success:

1.     Have we become too comfortable, too dependent upon technology?
2.     Have we become over-reliant on e-mailing clients and prospects?
3.     Do we have a real sense of our prospects’ environment, pressure, and time-restraints today?
4.     Do we establish quickly our prospects’ preferred communication tool - -telephone, personal sales call, e-mail, texting,         other?  Do we never ask?
5.     Do we fully understand why many prospects may prefer not to meet in person?
6.     Do we give prospects a compelling-enough reason why we should meet?
7.     Do we commit to making appointments with prospects?
8.     Do we commit real-time hours devoted to making prospecting phone calls?
9.     Do we avoid calling prospects during lunch, early mornings, or late afternoons?
10.   What hour of the day are our top prospects most likely to take our calls?
11.   Do we stop calling prospects when a second or third call is not returned?
12.   Do we really return phone calls promptly?  Within minutes, an hour, same day?
13.   Do we need to change the content or tone of the voice messages we leave?
14.   Do we commit to a regular schedule of outside sales calls? 
15.   Do we lock ourselves into making outside calls “only” on specific days?
16.   Do we commit to making qualified sales trips?  Attending qualified trade shows?
17.   Do we argue for and justify why making qualified sales trips and attending qualified trade shows and other customer             events cannot be cut from budgets?
18.   Have we taken inventory of what works best for us?  What’s not working?  What, if anything do we need to change?

Diamond wisdom

Those who know me well know of my love of baseball, and so I will close with a couple of pieces of wisdom from two hall of famers (yes, I’m still ecstatic about my Giants winning the World Series!). 
Most veteran sales professionals know it is very easy to fall into “comfort” zones - - to become locked into routines.  It’s difficult for all of us to challenge ourselves to test whether or not those routines, those habits, and those patterns may need changing.
Former Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench said falling into a hitting slump was like falling into a waterbed - - easy to fall into, but hard to get out of.
And future hall of famer Randy Johnson said upon his retirement last year, “You don’t perform at the major league baseball level at age 45 without mastering making adjustments.”
Every hotel sales professional - - veterans and rookies alike - - should continue to look for those changes that have an impact on how they do their jobs and what adjustments might become necessary to succeed.
I recommend that both veterans and rookies use the laundry list above to test themselves - - to determine whether some changes, adjustments or even simple tweaking might be in order. 
Remember, sales professionals never stay the same; they’re either getting better or getting worse.

David M. Brudney, ISHC, is a veteran hospitality sales and marketing professional concluding his fourth decade of service to the hospitality industry.  Brudney advises lodging owners, lenders, asset managers and operators on hotel sales and marketing “best practices” and conducts reviews of hospitality (as well as other industry) 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 hospitality 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 
(c) 760-994-9266
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Also See: Hotel Sales Professionals: Would You Buy What You Are Selling? / David Brudney / December 2010

Meeting Planner Voices Concern over Demand Return / David Brudney / October 2010

Value of Face-to-Face Meetings Resonates Even More Today / David Brudney / September 2010

Expect Hotels to Pare Back on Perks in 2011 While Implementing Modest Increases in Room Rates / David Brudney / September 2010

Good News for Meetings-Driven Resorts: Site Inspections and Bigger Group Bookings are Back! / David Brudney / August 2010

Kimpton Is Bullish on Fourth Quarter 2010 / David M. Brudney / June 2010

Landmark Decision by Arbitration Panel on Aviara Resort / David M. Brudney / April 2010

Group Business Comeback in the Cards / David M. Brudney / March 2010

Applying Five Tenets of Hotel Sales and Marketing in These Tough Times / David M. Brudney / January 2010

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