Product knowledge is a competitive advantage

(Product knowledge is a competitive advantage)

To be effective in sales, all staff need to be knowledgeable about everything available in their facility. This means knowledgeable about not only the physical property, but also services available both on- and off-site. Sales staff need a property fact sheet. Each member should refine their fact sheet by conducting a physical inspection of the facility and asking questions of key staff members. Pertinent information would include the following:


  • General property description: Location, age, unique features.
  • Guestrooms: Number, type, size, rates, taxes, in-room amenities, security, ADA accommodations, parking available, number of connecting rooms.
  • Restaurants and lounges: Number, sizes, capacities, hours, menu types, sample prices, taxes, room service availability, house specialties.
  • Meeting/Banquet facilities: Number, sizes, banquet menu, audio-visual service and prices, ADA services, floor plans.
  • Transportation: Distance to airport, transfers available with cost, any local transportation provided by facility.
  • Recreational facilities: Types, locations, rates, transfers.
  • Outside services: Secretarial services, baby-sitting, special vendors, shopping nearby, hair salons, entertainment activities, local attractions.
  • Guest mix: Types of travelers, groups, market segments the property attracts. Different things appeal to different people and groups. Matching facilities to needs of a prospect is what helps make a sale.


Successful salespeople realize that they do not sell products or services; they sell the benefits that prospects receive when they purchase products or services. Most potential guests become interested in the features of a property only when they perceive how those features will benefit them directly.

Translating property features into prospect benefits takes practice. One good exercise is to prepare a features/benefits worksheet for each type of visitor or market segment group (see above).

Note that the benefits of a property or service are often intangible. What prospects really expect to buy is the satisfaction of their needs. The example above shows how you can smoothly translate property features into prospect benefits.

The benefit list is the most valuable tool a hotel salesperson can carry. When selling, your benefit list is your product.

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Howard Feiertag is on the faculty of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, Va. He can be reached at [email protected].