If a business-focused career with a hospitality twist is something you’re after, consider pursuing a position in hotels. I spent much of my career in the hotel business, and I’m about to let you in on one of the best-kept secrets of the industry: sales. That’s right! The hotel industry is looking for sales talent.
What is ‘Hotel Sales’
No, it’s not about selling buildings or real estate. Hotel sales is all about convincing customers to book rooms at a hotel. We call it “heads in beds.” It can also involve persuading them to book banquets and other functions. A hotel sales person (usually called a sales manager) is responsible for filling the hotel. At most full-service hotels, the majority of a sales manager’s potential clients represent groups, such as associations, corporations, tour groups, and social groups. Large companies also have regional and national sales offices, where the sales managers sell for multiple hotels.
At select-service hotels, the sales manager may have more of a focus on selling corporate contracts. In this case, the hotel and a company make a deal: the company promises to send its travelers to the hotel and use a minimum number of rooms in a year. In exchange, the company gets a deeply discounted “contracted” room rate. A corporate contract is a very common arrangement between airlines and hotels near airports. The crew gets a special crew rate, and they always stay at the same hotel when they are in that city.
Hotel Sales vs. Traditional Sales
The biggest challenge is that you’re selling a fixed supply, with fluctuating seasonal demand. I have had plenty of experiences convincing a customer to book at my hotel, only to discover that we were actually sold out over the dates that my customer wanted for his convention.
However, the environment and the perks of working in hotel sales outweigh the challenges. Every group, every day, and every customer is different. On one Saturday, the groups that you booked could be a wedding, a tour group, and a dog show. In this role, you get to communicate with clients representing a variety of types of groups, and your colleagues are hospitality people, who are typically fun and outgoing. In addition, most hotel chains offer their employees special rates at every hotel in the system. Some even offer “friends and family” rates, so you can also get special rates for your loved ones.
How to Land the Job
There are several career tracks leading to hotel sales. The most traditional is “from within,” or through a different job at a hotel or hotel company. A person might be working as a banquet manager, a front office manager, or an administrative assistant in the sales office, and decide to apply for a sales manager job. Unfortunately for the hotels, there are not enough people in this internal pipeline who are the right fit for a sales job.
Another way to break into hotel sales is to apply directly to a hotel company. Some companies will hire sales managers directly into a sales training program. An increasingly common route to hotel sales is from another sales job in a different business. For example, a pharmaceutical sales rep, who is getting tired of always selling to the same type of customer, might find new excitement selling for hotels.
Who Makes a Good Candidate
Successful hotel sales professionals are self-motivated individuals with good time management skills. An ideal candidate will be outgoing and confident. Most of all, they need to be interested in helping customers solve their problems. If you want to learn more about hotel sales, take a look at the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International website.
If you are considering a degree in hospitality and need to stay current on trends in the industry, Johnson & Wales University College of Online Education offers an exciting array of hospitality degree programs to help you achieve your goals. Complete the “Request Info” form on this page, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected] to learn more.