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The 3 Knows: Product, Client, Competition

In real estate, the typical mantra is Location, Location, Location. To be successful in the hospitality industry, every sales rep needs to excel in the 3 Knows: Know Your Product, Know Your Client, Know Your Competition. These three elements of sales form a type of triangle upon which selling success is built. As sales reps, we all needs to be experts in all three “legs” of the triangle if we want to meet our sales goals.

Know Your Product
It may seem basic, but fully understanding what we sell can make or break sales income. For a smaller organization such as a limited service hotel your product is of interest to a very tightly defined customer. A full service hotel offers a variety of opportunities to sell rooms and dining to a wider customer base then a limited service hotel. In addition to selling rooms, a full service hotel may have meeting or banquet space that can be used for conferences, business meetings, weddings, family reunions, etc. Add a pool, spa, game room, volleyball or basketball court and the hotel may have a even larger audience of potential customers. That indoor pool and fitness center may be a big selling point during the winter. Location near a highway, shopping center, or tourist attraction may also be crucial to drive sales. Look at your business to see the many different “products” you sell other than just hotel rooms, food, etc.

Know Your Client
Who buys what you have to sell? Start by looking at existing customers – families, singles, young adults, senior citizens, student & youth groups, professional groups, conventions, family reunions, etc. Clients are a built-in focus group because you know when they are calling for information, when they book or buy and when they visit. From your sales income you know how many people are buying and what they are buying. From this basic information it may be possible to develop a socio-economic profile of guests.

All this information can be used to develop marketing budgets, new promotions, services, even new products. By looking at your clients you can determine what is the most effective way to market your property – print or electronic media, direct mail, co-op marketing, the internet, hotel packages, etc. Using this information to drive your strategic planning does make a big different on your bottom line.

Know Your Competition
Of course it is important to know your competition. And there is a lot of competition. In today’s world of the internet, 24 hour TV, text messaging, junk mail, junk emails, billboards, coupons on bottles of laundry detergent, and so much more, it is easy to find out what your competition is doing. Attending WRTC meetings, reading the newsletter, and networking are simple ways to learn about business similar to yours, ie. restaurants. Keep an eye open for general public and group advertising. Browse the competition’s web page, review rack cards, and direct mail pieces can help you understand your competition. You can also check out industry publications such as Courier, Destinations, Group Tour Magazine, Group Travel Leader, etc, to keep up to date on competition. National Tour Association (NTA) and American Bus Association (ABA) members can review membership directories or member web pages to check up on the competition.

Whatever you sell you need to stay up-to-date on your Product, your Client, and your Competition. In some cases, your product may not change much over the year but your client base will certainly change. More competition is an ever-present reality. If you consistently master these three “legs” of sales you have a good opportunity to make your sales goals.