By Alan Young

I began my hospitality career over 40 years ago, working in operations at a downtown hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia. I was a minibar attendant. The first thing I noticed about the industry was how incredibly nice and gracious the people I worked with and the guests I served were. My bosses were also highly supportive, ensuring I had the tools and training to feel comfortable and perform my job effectively. Initially, my responsibilities were analog, with no fancy computer systems in place. I took notes and wrote down pretty much everything, allowing others within the hotel to upload minibar charges to guests’ folios.

Several years later, while working at another hotel in Toronto, I was exposed to how computers could impact our industry. I fell in love with the technology side of things, amazed at how technology could optimize many aspects of service delivery and consign handwritten mistakes to the past. Technology enabled us to speed up check-ins and check-outs and examine data that would change how operations were managed forever.

As my love for technology grew, I had a fantastic opportunity to leave hotel operations to join an innovative point-of-sale and property management systems provider. I had gone from one extreme to another, now in sales and marketing for one of the best systems companies around. It was life-changing.

One constant remained: the hospitality industry is all about relationships. Relationships between co-workers, guests, those in positions of prominence, and those cementing their place are of paramount concern. Without the relationships that are the bedrock of our industry, we would be nothing more than those who work in a building where people sleep in rooms.

When promoting or selling hospitality technology systems, building relationships is a cornerstone. Relationship selling is about nurturing long-term connections, emphasizing trust and personalized service over mere transactions. This approach is beneficial and necessary in realms where personal service is the backbone of success.

Salesforce reports that a whopping 79% of business buyers cite trust in their salesperson as a critical factor in purchasing decisions. Establishing trust is paramount in the hospitality technology sector, where operations hinge on the systems we sell. Sales professionals who invest in understanding their clients’ unique needs can offer tailored solutions, enhancing satisfaction and fostering loyalty.

Emotional intelligence plays a crucial role in relationship selling. It’s about connecting on a personal level and understanding clients’ emotional and business needs. This skill is particularly vital in hospitality, where customer experience reigns supreme. Salespeople adept in emotional intelligence can navigate client interactions more effectively, laying the foundation for strong, lasting relationships.

Maintaining solid relationships in the fast-evolving hospitality sector means staying ahead of the curve and anticipating clients’ needs. These relationships, built on trust and mutual respect, can lead to referrals and testimonials, invaluable assets in the sales world. Such word-of-mouth recommendations carry inherent trust, opening doors to new business opportunities.

Reflecting on my journey from a minibar attendant to a tech enthusiast in the hospitality industry, the thread that connects every step is the power of relationships. Whether between colleagues, clients, or industry partners, these connections have been the foundation of my career. As we continue to navigate the technological advancements in hospitality, let’s remember that the relationships we cherish and maintain are at the heart of every transaction, upgrade, and innovation. They are, after all, the true essence of hospitality.

One last discussion point. In today’s digitally connected world, the importance of leveraging platforms like LinkedIn to build and nurture professional relationships cannot be overstated. For individuals in the hospitality industry and beyond, LinkedIn serves as a powerful tool for enhancing visibility and expanding reach. By actively engaging with content, sharing insights, and participating in industry-relevant conversations, professionals can establish themselves as thought leaders and trusted experts. This visibility not only opens the door to new opportunities but also helps build a network of relationships based on mutual interests and professional respect.