It always amazes me that when hotel sales people complete my three-day basic selling training course, most never see the need to periodically review what they learned. I can't tell you how many told me they learned the basics years ago and didn't need to revisit them. It was as if they remembered everything from the past when, truth be known, they had forgotten 75 to 80 percent of it.

Sam Huff, the Hall of Fame linebacker for the New York Giants and Washington Redskins and a teammate of mine at Marriott, often mentioned that every year pre-season training began with the coach saying, “This is a football,” and then went through the basics year after year.

I hope you agree that we should go often go back to the basics if we want to stay on top of our game as hotel sales professionals. There are several ways to do this:

Mystery shopping

Many hotel companies use shopping companies to evaluate their salespeople's selling skills and provide written evaluations and tapes of calls. This is an excellent way for salespeople to improve their skills through self-study.

Tape your phone calls

This is a great way to improve skills, particularly if you listen to the tape and fill out a form that covers the bases. An example of my Telephone Inquiry Critique Sheet can be found on the Lodging Hospitality website (Go to and click on the cover of the current issue or search the issue archives under Articles tab.).

Videotape sales calls

Have every salesperson videotape a role-play at a prospect's office. Document the situation, objectives for the call and other needed information. Once again, use a critique form designed specifically for a personal call. Come up with a scoring system and award prizes as incentives.

Tour the hotel

Have three people take the tour: the person being graded, one in the role of the customer and the judge who scores the role-play.

Overcoming objections

This makes a great exercise for teams of three or four at your weekly sales meeting. Most hotels have three or four major objections. Role-play the objection and presentation to overcome it. Distribute the winning presentations so all can use them in the future.

Stock presentations

These can be developed by combining the best parts of each person's presentations. It has always seemed ridiculous to me to listen to presentations by four or five people from the same hotel on the same subject and find they are completely different. Your presentations will be much stronger if you incorporate each person's best ideas. I usually try to develop a 60-second telephone presentation that introduces my hotel and a longer presentation of about five minutes accompanied by pictures that could be used at a prospect's office.

These are some ways to review basics. I guarantee you will notice positive gains in bookings if the basics become an important part of your ongoing training.

Tom McCarthy, CHME, CHA, spent half his career with Hilton and Marriott in sales, advertising and public relations and half in his own training and consulting business, Hotel Professional Education and Consulting of Falls Church, VA. He is a past president of Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and is a member of the HSMAI Hall of Fame. He can be reached at or 703-931-0757.

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