“ . . . and . . . ” The little word that could

Any hotel salesperson in the world is trained on how to handle a “no” or a “but”. We are taught how to navigate a myriad of uncertainties during the sales process. We acquire the skills to deal with all types of customers, their responses, their fears, their doubts and their reluctance to close the deal. We learn how to move the sales process forward in order to sustain momentum. All of our training, skills, personality, knowledge and desire to help our customer culminate in the resolution of the sales process – a signed contract.

It is at this point that one small word can rear its ugly head…”and”. This small word has been known to blow up a sure deal, sour a potentially fruitful business relationship and stymie self-confident sales persons, stopping them dead in their tracks. For all the training we receive to close the sale we receive precious little on how to deal with the “and”. Sometimes we hear the actual “and,” sometimes it’s implied. It will always come at that critical moment when the potential customer needs to feel as though they are getting something extra, at a discount or for free.

“So we’ve agreed on this number of room nights per month at this cost for 2022. Great. AND do you think you could throw in weekend for my wife and I in January? We love to ski!” Crickets. Crickets are never good. They imply uncertainty and an unwillingness to deal with the special request.

“We love the ballroom, the flowers, the cake and the caterer is marvelous! (and) Do you think we can get a discount on the groom’s cake? It would really help us out.” “Well I really don’t have any control over what the caterer charges.” You’ve gone from being the take charge, self-confident ally of the customer to the powerless, fearful, joyless enemy.

I could continue with these scenarios ad infinitum. You know the drill you’ve been there. So how do we handle these situations? It’s at this point that I like to remember what business I’m in and that’s the HOSPITALITY BUSINESS. If a guest asked for extra towels would I respond with a frozen smile and a blank expression? NO! I’d get them extra towels. If a guest came to me with a problem would I shrug my shoulders and say, “Well that’s not really my area.” NO! I’d do my best to solve the situation, immediately.

Hotel sales continue to be about establishing and maintaining relationships. We do that from a customer service standpoint. Will we always be able to fulfill every special request? Maybe not. But a concerted effort to deal with the “and” could save a sale…and a relationship. And that’s what hospitality’s all about!

Toni Jacaruso, CEO of Jacaruso Enterprises
August 31, 2021

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