Enhancing employee performance leads to better sales

Howard Feiertag

Sales staffers know too well the importance of staff performance at the property level and its effect on the sales operation. The experience that meeting planners as well as all guests receive when visiting a hotel is a big key in assisting with the confirmation of a booking, whether it be for individuals or groups. All too often, just a little misstep on the part of any service employee will make the difference in the decision-making process of a reservation.

There are so many opportunities for “things to go wrong” during guests’ visits that need to be avoided. In all probability, any sales person at a hotel property would be able to compile a listing of such situations.

Food service employees taking “smoke breaks” near the hotel’s front entrance; the hotel manager who didn’t say “hello” as a guest walked by; an associate who, while serving a guest, griped to a colleague about not having a day off. These encounters are cited, from his own personal experience, by Vince Magnini, in his new book: "Performance Enhancement: Twenty Essential Habits for Service Businesses." Magnini, associate professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech, indicates that we, as consumers, witness employee actions that are inconsistent with the experience that a hotel, or any service business, is trying to create.


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Academic research exists that, if properly communicated, service employees’ actions could significantly enhance the opportunity for improving sales productivity. The book represents making such managerially useful studies more readily accessible. It presents 20 habits that are important for anyone working in any hospitality or service business to cultivate. The suggested habits range from the behavioral (using drama, laughter, and verbal and non-verbal cues) to the technical (analyzing and measuring return on quality). Service employee habits actually can impact and shape customers attitudes and behavior, which, of course, may result in future bookings for a hotel property.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so those first impressions of a hotel or resort property are so very, very important. We need to think about what is the impression a guest (particularly a meeting planner) gets upon arriving at a property? Probably, even before the arrival, the first and most important impression could very well be when the phone call is made to make a reservation or an appointment with the sales department. What is the caller’s impression when the call is answered (or not answered) by a live voice? Then, there is the physical appearance upon arrival, the check-in at the front desk, etc. First impressions really do count when it comes to booking profitable sales.

For a free copy of “Vince’s Tips on Essential Habits,” from his new book, send me an email request at: [email protected]