By Greg Johnson
There is an interesting relationship between the Egyptian plover, a graceful wader bird species, and the Nile crocodile, and this symbiosis ripped straight from the latest 4K nature documentary series offers a fundamental lesson for any hotel manager or aspiring executive.
In the tropical regions of Africa, the crocodile lurks about in the sweltering grasslands and along the riverbeds with its mouth left hungrily open, which also acts as a form of ventilation. The plover is then commonly known for flying into the menacing reptile’s mouth, unaware of any danger, and feeding on bits of decaying flesh stuck in its teeth. The crocodile does not eat the plover, though. Instead of devouring the plover, it patiently appreciates the dental work while relaxing in-between meals.
I think most of us have found occasions where we were sitting there in the warm, stifling swamp of our workstations, waiting for our own metaphorical plover to proactively fly in and do some of the key duties we should be doing for ourselves. Nowhere is this complacency more apparent in the hospitality world than in sales where the kill favors the active and the bold.
Are you just acting the part of a hotel sales leader while waiting for the phone to ring or for a client to walk through the doors bringing business to you? Are you burrowing in or are you willing to abandon your habitat of contentment?
With many predicting the next sales cycle to be particularly troublesome in terms of getting healthy occupancies at lucrative rates, here are some quick action steps to help lift you out of your state of content complacency so that your performance is nothing but exceptional for the coming quarter.
- Get out and go visit or call your top five clients. Ask for new business and referrals. Use them as your advocates to saturate these accounts.
- Get up and drive the parking lots of your competitors (preferably in the morning) and write down all company cars, vans, trucks, buses and so on. This is an easy way to build your list of prospecting calls.
- Pull your arrivals list and find the guests staying with you from companies you want more business from. Write a handwritten letter and offer them incentives such as loyalty points if they will give you a referral for new business.
- Pull the group business, or top accounts, from last year as well as from two years ago and start calling them to rebook the business.
- Put together an incentive plan that rewards your front desk for collecting the most business cards from companies you can then target for more revenue.
- Call your sales counterparts at surrounding hotels and go have lunch. You don’t have to share client information but talk about customer and market challenges as well as new ideas you could try. Plus, you could make friends and new connections in the process.
- If all else fails, eat your broccoli. This is always good advice. My mom always told me that if I ate my broccoli, I would grow up strong and successful. If the above steps don’t work, maybe this will at least make you feel better as this particular cruciferous vegetable has been scientifically proven to be one of the most potent antioxidant-rich foods on the planet.
As the landscape of supply and demand is becoming more and more competitive, retaining and uncovering various new lines of revenue is imperative. You don’t have the luxury of sitting there sedentarily waiting for others to do parts of your job for you. The only miracles in the sales world are those that you make for yourself.
If you need to follow up with your clients, set out to be the quickest to follow up. If you are not getting the business coming in that you normally would receive, be the most persistent and active in going out and shifting that share to your hotel from one of your competitors. Don’t wait for the Egyptian plover to fly to your rescue! And if you need to clean your teeth, get up, brush your own teeth then get to work.
With a passion for the true art of sales, Greg Johnson is currently the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Newport Hospitality Group. He started his hospitality career in full and select hotels in Idaho and Utah. He then moved to Memphis as the Global Director of Sales and Revenue Management Training for Hilton Worldwide where he was responsible for maintaining all sales and revenue management courses for all Hilton brands. Next at White Lodging Services, Greg managed the sales for 35 properties in the company’s portfolio, consisting of Hilton, Marriott, Starwood and Hyatt brands across the United States. In addition to having the best career around, Greg is a distinguished public speaker, emcee, bowtie aficionado, husband and father of three.