Ne-go-ti-a-tion [ni-goh-shee-ey-shuhn] noun. mutual discussion and arrangement of the terms of an agreement.
As vaccines are distributed more frequently, and companies feel more comfortable with their employees on the road, we are starting to see various segments of travel begin to return. While your hotel prepares to offer negotiated rates to these returning segments, or as you prepare to create business cases, the negotiation strategies you use will have a huge impact on the profitability of your hotel.
There are three keys to consider in the art of negotiation: Confidence, knowledge and knowing when to walk away.
Let me preface this further by saying negotiation does NOT mean discount. Discounting is a tactic, not a strategy. Skilled negotiators know that a successful negotiation is one where you leave the table with both parties feeling good about the agreement. Every negotiation is a dialog and we have dialogs every day which brings us to the first key in the art of negotiation: confidence.
Don’t let negotiation intimidate you! Go into the meeting with the attitude that you are going to get this deal. Do not cross the line into cocky or arrogant. The best mix is self-assurance and humility. If you believe in your offer your confidence will transmit to the client.
It is very important that you appear relaxed during the discussion, even if you do not feel that way. If you feel uncomfortable, your customer is going to pick up on that vibe and may become uncomfortable too. Your job is to help your customer feel relaxed so that they will tell you what is important to them when making buying decisions.
It’s not enough to just be educated on your hotel or product. You also have to understand your customer’s business goals and objectives. In addition, the more you know about your competitors, the easier it will be to point out your strengths and their weaknesses. It is never a good idea to speak negatively about your competition. Simply focus on what you do better in a factual, non-emotional and concise delivery.
Know When to Walk Away
The hardest thing for most salespeople to do is to walk away when the deal does not make sense for both parties. Salespeople are competitive by nature, so walking away can sometimes feel like losing, especially in the midst of a pandemic. Remember: if you do not walk away from low-rated business that only stays with you during periods of high demand, then even if you have “won” the business, you will lose money in the long run. Know your walk-away point and feel confident in your business decisions.
At the end of the negotiation, if your prospect still says no, resist the urge to keep selling! It’s almost instinctual for salespeople to start pushing harder and revisit features and benefits all over again. No one likes to be oversold. Just take a deep breath, and say something like, “I’m very sorry to hear that we will not be able to come to an agreement. If you ever find yourself in the position where your hotel of choice is sold out, would you consider using us as your primary second choice?”
In the end, if you are confident and the deal makes sense, your customer is going to buy. After they agree to your terms, do not forget to thank them for putting their trust in you and your hotel. It will alleviate buyer’s remorse from certain personality types that need reassurance.
Toni Jacaruso, CEO of Jacaruso Enterprises Inc.
March 8, 2021