Can you walk the talk in hospitality?
Hotels rely on vendors to provide them with services, goods, and materials needed for their daily operations. Becoming a vendor or supplier for hotels can be a great way to get your business or product into the hospitality industry, making it easier to reach out to new customers and increase sales. Still, most importantly, your product or service could really help fuel the industry by saving them time, money, and resources.
Cory Falter recently invited Jill Dean Rigsby, CEO and Andy Haynes, Vice President of Strategic Growth of iDEAL Hospitality Partners, on the InnSync Show to share insider tips for becoming a hotel vendor. They shared some great insight!
How to Sell to Hotels
Becoming a hotel vendor or supplier can be a long but profitable process. The key is to take the time to get to know your prospects and focus on building solid relationships. Be hospitable. Be nice. Be welcoming.
In addition to relationship building, there are a few other considerations to get started.
To start, research the different types of vendors needed by hotels so you can choose the ones that best fit your product or service. Make sure you understand their needs and how your product or service can help them, as well as the positive impact it could have on the hotel.
To become a vendor for hotels, you must meet certain requirements set by the hotel in question.
These requirements may include proof of insurance, certifications or licenses, references from former clients and/or suppliers, and a good reputation for reliability and quality products. In addition, you should also have sufficient capital to finance any projects that may be involved in the contract with the hotel.
Understand the purchasing process of hotels
Hotels generally use a formal purchase order system when dealing with vendors. This involves submitting an application or proposal detailing what services, goods, or materials you can provide and how much they will cost. Hotels may also require proof of insurance, certifications, or licenses from vendors before signing a contract.
Prepare the required documents
Once you have understood the purchasing process that hotels use, it is important to prepare all the necessary documents. This includes providing references from previous customers and/or suppliers, proof of insurance, as well as any certifications or licenses needed for your type of business. Having all this ready in advance can make the process smoother and quicker.
Market your services to hotels
Once you have all the requirements, it is time to market your services to hotels. Networking with other vendors and hotel managers is a great way to get your name out there and make sure that hotels are aware of what you are offering.
Here are some tips to market to hotel brands you wish to work with:
- Cold calling
- Trade shows
- Trade associations
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
You can also reach out to potential clients directly by creating an online presence through websites like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
Need help marketing your B2B hospitality business? We can help! Reach out here for a no-obligation discovery session.
Create a memorable customer experience
Finally, it is important to focus on creating a memorable customer experience for hotel clients.
This involves delivering high-quality products or services in a timely manner, as well as providing excellent customer service. Creating an exceptional customer experience will ensure that hotels remember you and return for future business opportunities.
Hospitality Vendor Questions & Answers with Cory, Jill & Andy
Where do hotels get their products?
Hotels often purchase products from various sources, such as distributors, wholesalers, or online retailers. The vendors they choose usually depend on the specific needs of the hotel and their budget.
Why is the process of becoming a hospitality vendor so complex?
The process for becoming a hospitality vendor can be complex because hotels have specific requirements that must be met.
Additionally, there are actually five different stakeholders: owners, management, companies, brands, group purchasing organizations, and then the individual property itself.
The trick is knowing which one of those stakeholders you need to get to and who is the right fit for your product.
Andy says, "if you go to the wrong one, you're going to get bounced around trying to figure out who the right person is, and you're wasting a lot of valuable time."
Cory adds, "oftentimes, the person you're seeking isn't even in the hotel itself."
"So much depends on the product itself," Julie says. "That's going to drive who the decision maker is going to be, then you have to drill down to each department within the stakeholder groups."
Hotels are almost like several different businesses under one roof.
An additional layer of complexity is a reluctance to change.
Cory says, "finding the right person is one thing, which is a challenge in itself. But having them take a look at something that may be new to them. Our industry obviously is not big on making revolutionary changes."
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How can hotel vendors take the lead?
Hotel vendors can take the lead by demonstrating their value through marketing, providing added services, and delivering a quality customer experience.
The pandemic forced some changes that many established brands are more likely to be willing to try new concepts than early adopters within the hospitality industry.
For example, many hotel owners and management companies are trying to put together long-term plans that will solve labor problems and supply chain issues.
Jill says, "they're putting together plans and procedures so they're not caught trying to find a quick way to find a solution. Although they may be reluctant to try new products, I think they're eager to find products and services that will solve problems for them."
"I predict change is on the horizon," Jill says, "especially in initiatives around wellness and sustainability."
Cory adds, "where vendors can really stand apart is by solving specific pain points and challenges."
What is the best way to market your product or service to a hotel?
There are thousands of ways a hospitality vendor can market to hotels. The best way to get started is by customizing your pitch depending on the recipient. You're going to present to a hotel owner differently than you're going to pitch to a general manager.
In addition to customizing your messaging, here are some key principles to help.
- Be hospitable - be the supplier that "walks that walk" and be hospitable.
- Be proactive, not reactive - in following up with clients and checking in on the product or service.
- Know your audience - when working with a management company or an owner, know your audience and do your research.
Andy says, "more than likely, when you're selling to a hotel, you're being a 'proof point' for others. Other management companies and hotels are going to want to look at the example of how your product is doing."
Cory adds, "Social proof, such as case studies and testimonials, are important for new products, but make sure you have three solid experiences before trying to sell them."
Hot Tip: If you're able to pilot a product or service, make sure to deliver an exceptional experience to that hotel. Your success there will be a great proof point in all future sales conversations.
What are some special considerations that you would need to be aware of?
When working with hotels, there are some key things that vendors need to keep in mind.
First, it's important to be familiar with the hospitality industry. Hotels have a different language, protocols, and expectations than other industries.
Jill says, "It is important to be aware of how stakeholders' expectations tie into decisions about hotel specifications and brand standards."
Second, consider all of their stakeholders, from hotel owners and corporate staff to housekeeping and engineering.
Third, make sure you're up-to-date on any relevant certifications. This can only add value to your pitch, as it's one less thing for a hotelier to be concerned with.
According to Jill, "you should be prepared to offer an analysis of the financial plan for the hotel and understand what goes into deploying a product. If you are looking to get a GPO deal, be prepared to offer allowances based on revenue, as well as liability insurance that meets their standards."
Finally, Jill says, "it is becoming increasingly important for suppliers to demonstrate sustainability policies and diversity profiles within their organization or supply chain partners."
Vendors need to be prepared for change and adaptation. Hotels, especially large chains, are constantly evolving and making changes to keep up with the times.
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What is one of the biggest misconceptions or secrets about selling to a hotel?
One of the biggest misconceptions about selling to a hotel is that it is an easy process. You may be thinking, "I've got a great product, I can walk right into a hotel and make a sale."
Andy says, "the reality is, you've got to know who the right person is to talk to. If you go in and try to hit the wrong person with a great idea, it's not going anywhere."
It takes research, patience, and excellent customer service to establish relationships that lead to sales.
Jill adds, "as a supplier, your goal should be to build relationships."
"And as a supplier," Cory says, "your ultimate goal is to be a trusted advisor."
People in hospitality especially want to do business with people they know and trust.
Additionally, hotel vendors and suppliers should lead by offering a solution. Buyers are looking for solutions rather than products or services. They want to know how your product or service can help them reach their goals and improve the quality of customer experience.
By showing that you understand their needs, you can help them find ways to make the most of their budget while improving efficiency and customer satisfaction. This is how you will ultimately become a trusted vendor for hotels.
The key takeaway here is that cultivating relationships and providing solutions is essential to becoming a successful hotel vendor. With the right approach, you can achieve success in this special industry.
Vendors looking to become successful hotel vendors should keep in mind the importance of understanding the hospitality industry, taking into account all stakeholders, having relevant certifications, being prepared for change and adaptation, building relationships with buyers, and providing solutions to their needs. With this approach, you can become a trusted vendor in the hotel industry.
By following these steps, you can become a successful hotel vendor in no time! With the right preparation and marketing efforts, you can start building relationships with hotels and expanding your business. Good luck!