Blogs and Hospitality Learning Resources
How did i grow in my career in Hospitality without IIHM degree- Deepak Sharma
How can someone grow a career in hospitality without IIHM degree or formal hotel management education.
1. clear #vision of where you want to be in your career down the line.
2. spend initial years #learning all traits in hospitality which can be in all departments #frontoffice#housekeeping#sales in order to understand tricks and trades.
3. Make #firstprincipals and stick to your ideals.
A wonderful insights by Deepak Sharma an accomplished hospitality sales professional. Thanks
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How Did i Start in Hospitality
Hmm. I’d love to go to restaurants and eat but he will not go to a dub I need. I used to love food still did I love food, you know. And when he says then, whenever you used to go outside, you need to go to the hotel, need a strong proper responses. So that was my childhood train. Yeah, yeah, it would happen in due course of time, actually. Now, I am actually a sports background. Open in India, you know, when you’re a sports man, you can study. You are very. Yeah, yeah. I was a backbencher. And most likely I was standing out of the class.
Yeah, you know, so I couldn’t I couldn’t do much in the studies. I’m a sportsman. I played hockey for what, 22 years in my life. I was about to take it as a profession. But Indian hockey, you know where they were exactly. 12 years back? Yeah. Yeah. We were we were studying. We were in college. And then our team, one of my friends, he was doing some hotel management course. Hmm. And he I had a bike so he told me if you can come along, and you know, it was a number one hotel number two hotel was big hotel. And I just find a job. And we used to play for rajastan visas and university said, okay, you get an opportunity to see a big hotel. Why not? Let’s go. So he tied up with his own all black suit and white shirt and all this stuff. And I used to get massages my hair like this beginning on haircut, done remote date. And I went with a tie and T shirt, buying a shirt with them. Just to company in because you know, people go youngsters go together? Yeah, yeah. They need a friend to do something. They were like 10 guys sitting in the lobby. And the owner, MD of the hotel was interviewing somebody. And one by one I saw they were all coming, going, coming going. And I was reading a newspaper. And suddenly this owner of the hotel called me, I said, No, no, no, I’m not an account. Hmm. I said, I’m not here for an interview. And at the back end, I’ll tell you my communication skills are the work pretty fair. Not that bad, huh? Because speaking in English, 20 years back was a big thing.
my father’s background is actually defense background. So Indian Air Force is the meaning into schooling that they teach you speak. Yeah, I was a backbencher. But my communications are pretty good, huh. So he started speaking, you know, why don’t you work with us? And this? I said, and so I just came in my head, is he’s just given an interview. And now I’ll be going back. No, but give it a thought. If you like to work, I’m working. How much money will you give? They say, Okay, this x amount will give you x amount was pretty good at that time. I have a challenge that I could play Monday evening. But till 230 I can’t work because I have my own hockey sessions. So either I can miss the morning or either I can use the evening, huh? That’s it? No problem. You come you do it after two o’clock. So you hope for 230 to 10. That’s how I got into hotel as a front front office. Assistant that those days people used to call receptionist Hmm. So now the technical term was changed to front office assistance. And that’s how I got it, you know? And then now I feel I was actually destined to be in the industry. Even even not? Well, not from the background basic. Huh. That’s how I started. And then then there’s there was no looking back because I came to Delhi and then I worked for a small neural brand called neuro loss.
grand hotel. So I was part of the hotels. And then I worked in hotels, they were setting up dates in India. There was no no looking back at it.
If you if you are if you have to summarize your 20 years of experience into various positions that you have been there, right? In what what are your biggest learnings?
The first thing I suggest everyone I mean, I I’ll come on to that thing. But first thing i would i would recommend anyone Hmm. But you make sure at the initial of your
journey of your career. What do you want to be? Hmm. And
in my case, I was not from the hotel management background. Neither I did an industrial cleaning. Hmm. I didn’t know what various departments. So first, it became very important for me to To learn can take some experience all of this 20 years, seven years is actually learning. I was a front office, I was part of reservations, I was part of revenue team, I was sales coordinator. I was a sales executive. So this out of this linear seven years of initial learning, which helped me later actually gain some knowledge. Plus,
before when I started, I made some first
principles basic, hmm. I would
not do certain things, and
I would do these these things. Hmm.
And somewhere I had to compromise, then probably I will not compromise. Hmm. Basically Be true to yourself. Yeah. Be true to your colleagues. Be true to your customer. That’s all it is. and believe in destiny in hard hard work. And to always do something different. Don’t follow the traditional setups don’t follow the traditional thought process of not seeing challenges. Take calculated risk. If you need to do a certain check in process unique you can’t challenge it. You have to do it. Yeah. DVD, and in this way, six years. Manish you won’t believe I started thinking differently. Right.
I just give you a classic example. Till date, I’m not able to do it because I can’t challenge. Hmm. But I do it. When I’m in charge. All salespeople, they will sit down on a Friday evening.
And they will play Monday to Friday. Hmm. Change.
Can you plan something on a weekend? If I have to meet you? should I bother you honor we can?
Of course you cannot. Right? I cannot most of
probably what will happen. If you need to meet 20 lines, you will only get four appointments, huh? Right. One thing I don’t like it, you take the bag and go out on a Monday morning. Who’s gonna meet you? Hmm, everybody?
Right. So what I want to change in this industry is rather than sitting on a Friday evening, pack up the bags by two or three o’clock, go and party hard. Enjoy your weekend. Come back on Monday and you plan your week. Mm hmm. Because that’s the time people will start engaging in their business activities. They will start speaking they’re thinking start taking calls. That’s how it is. So that was my thought processes the meaning but had to follow what the norms are. So I was following it up. Yeah, yeah. That was thinking different is always gonna help me out. Hmm. Right. And I’ll tell you in seven, eight and nine from here, little
depression. Yeah. Yeah.
overall, business was not happening. People were not traveling, you know, I was working for a resort. And you think if people aren’t cost cutting more, they will not go to a five star resort. Westin. Destin Sona de la Resort and Spa, Westin Rosie was luxury. Yeah, opening luxury. And it was selling at a very high price. And market was down, but you still believe me? I used to do my target by 300%. Mm hmm. People used to come and ask me. From where do you find the beat?
Yeah. Yeah, that’s what I’m gonna ask you. Where are you getting those leads?
Yes. And I will tell you till the whosoever came to me, I used to tell them in India, you know, there are some job portals monster.com naukri.com this.com and that.com when people used to find lead in the market, dead market, I used to sit and look at those job portals. You know, my boss used to come here looking for a job. Hmm. That is why you’re on job portal. I had been looking for a job. I wouldn’t be doing it by 300% Yeah, looking for business areas. People used to get shocked on job portals looking for business. It was see if it is your thought process. Yeah. company who is hiring? Yeah, really must be growing.
Yeah, of course.
It’s like a sitting duck man just going on.
Yeah, yeah. Gotta
it’s like that. I mean, not to be really creative, you know, huh?
Yeah. I mean, recently, I gave the nearly the same advice to my my sales team now because the Coronavirus is there. So I said okay, why Don’t you? Are you reading the newspapers or not? Say yeah, we are reading the news. Well, I said, Are you reading the news or the advertisements? So they say we read the news either No, no, no look at the advertisements, look, spending the money on advertising the things, those people’s those companies who are still advertising, on websites, on the newspapers, on the magazines, they are our potential clients, go and talk to them. What are their needs? And can we submit? Can we fulfill their needs or not?
In many instances, I can tell you
two decades has been almost You know, my first decade was learning and I was still a manager level. And the last decade, which is 2011 to 2020. I was actually in leadership, many, many instances punish, you won’t believe me.
Yeah. And when
there is a saying, Man, if you have a clear heart, you’re hard working. The entire universe will help you.
You know what happened once. I was not taking one of my customers call I was in a meeting. I used to I that time, I was handling a lot of weddings. When we handle a lot of wedding queries. No. Those meeting lasts for hours.
Yeah, can go long when you’re detailing your
everything has to be taken care. Because if anything goes wrong in that wedding, you will be held by the next day. Yeah. Yeah. And then there will there will be no apology for that. Hmm. I did not take this customer’s call. And then customer was very important. We’ve also known to me said What happened to you? You don’t want to talk to me? Hmm. So I just sent him a message.
I’m sorry. I’m a little stressed.
Because I’m falling short by a 50 units this month.
You know, and I’m really
I just I was kidding.
I was just kidding. So that, you know, he doesn’t call me and I said I’ll call you back as soon as I find. Yeah,
Then he said, okay, you call me whenever you free.
So I didn’t call him that day. I called him next day said sorry. Raj divide. He was working with Pepsi.
Sorry, Raj. I was only small
thing. Huh. 50 nights
I arranged for you.
And you won’t believe it happened.
That’s the power of relationship also. I think maybe your relationship?
Yes. What’s the came out? Then if you ask for help, huh? industries? Yeah. Oh, my customer, you will get a reply back and your relationship is good. You will definitely get a business. Yeah, yeah.
Yeah. That’s the power of relationship.
Yes. So this is somewhere around 2008 71 chap had not come by the time so what happened now then the entire my own sales group started selling on WhatsApp SMS SMS.
Okay. For what what are the things that you find in sales department usually which you think they should learn really, and current sales force are lacking in certain skills?
It is millennial era, actually,
yeah, millennial era,
as has has a lot of potential. Because when they come in front of you,
you’re technically sound. Their
on a higher side what we used to.
But only thing is this new
era lacks little patience here. They want to learn everything fast. Everything should happen quick.
Are they want to get everything fast?
Yes. And trust me. It’s
it’s like people you and me who are serious senior in the industry. We should change the way we work. It should be made fun.
Other than having a lengthy meeting coming back being a lonely meeting, then meeting and then meeting
Hmm. We have
spend more time on the road. Spend more time in customer meetings that will bring business Yeah. That will reduce stress. Meetings should be that nice. What is the use of technology when we when the use of technology when we have to meet For every stupid thing we have, okay, when you don’t have a revenue meeting, we have business down here business meeting, no backward leads not coming to do backward leads coming, all sales team is doing it. And meeting. That is what I’ve seen in last four or five years. Especially. Right. And your sales head is director of sales head is not a director sales anymore. The director of meetings?
Yeah. And bigger brands I’ve seen. Yeah.
Your Director of Sales and Marketing actually easier Relationship Manager with the owner and the brand.
Whereas the same is happening. Yeah. Yeah. Good.
I mean, we should change this environment.
Have fun. I said, just stop this Friday, and start on Monday. Thanks. Because I think it’ll give you a little kick to the people as well already, you know, they know your shirt Monday, I have to do again a sales call, huh? When these stupid guys somebody will let me enter more, you know, let them come fix their meetings on Monday, by the time they spend the rest, at least they will have next for four days of sales calling they will be fresh, confident
and energetic. Hmm.
That already are not in your organization.
See what I, I whenever I work, I work differently. Right? I really want I follow all the process global norms, if I’m with a brand, but personally, my working style is different. That’s how I always wanted but I never knew I never could. Because I know that my boss is gonna cave on me. Right? Yeah, so 10 years of learning when I used to think if I ever become a director of sales, if I ever become a general manager, I would not do certain certain things, you know, but he will have my back when you say something like that. So that’s how it is. So my leadership actually is a little different than others. Yes. Reporting is there. All the processes, but it’s very, very limited. Only such time delay require information. Hmm. Right. Otherwise, you do your fund. That’s your laptop, that’s your sales car. Customers is yours. I will do three, three meetings with you a week, per person, bring business and be happy. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think I’ll tell you what, it’s very easy to become a director of sales and marketing guy, it is very easy for you to become an emcee of our tale. It is also very easy to become a general manager of the hotel. But from your own point, if you see if I’m hiring for sales managers, three assistant managers to banquet sales guys, to executives. Even if one person is not producing as per the expectation, it is not his problem.
It is a problem.
Yeah, I have to be with him hand in hand telling guy let’s go and find out where he’s going. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s all there is what is happening because we give them all the gun. Right? We give them all the gun. But the moment the guy is out, he’s again, doing the same the negative body language is gone. Gone continent gone. Hmm. So that’s my thought process. And so certain things in certain period, you know, I I’ve lost my job. So I left my job. Because people think this guy is not producing, you know, why should I let the guy go?
He’s doing right will take time. Yeah.
Huh. How do you advise people to be more confident in in handling the sales calls or B when they are going to the visit a client? Normally, especially with the sales, they’re not really they’re not I think, treated with dignity, I think because they’re they are being because you see, everybody will say Oh, if this sales guy he will try to sell me something. So maybe companies and corporates are not treating them nicely. So how, what is the advice that you would give to them?
Your question actually is right, but that is a psychological face. It’s not an issue on a psychological phase of a period Oh, yeah. Hosting my sales technique if if I need to go out and sell my hotel or sell anything, please don’t sell. Please don’t try to sell anything nobody’s gonna buy. Yeah, this world sitting here in this call to me and Mr. Modi, to Donald Trump, everybody selling everything. selling something, please don’t.
Please don’t sell anything.
First you need to go out. And even if you’re scared of meeting the person or if you’re scared of going into a company that I think you should you should not be into. You should not be. Yeah. Yeah. Right. And asking for an appointment is a style and a heart. Because he is not meeting you. He is meeting 25 different hoteliers? Why should he meet you? Yeah. If you are something in company x, right, and you’re old, you’re using different hotels, not my hotel. If I asked for an appointment, you will not need me. Yeah, yeah. Because you know, a meeting will become a liability that allows for business right? Hmm. So how it is then your style, your art comes in between? Probably you may not ask for business, even just a face to face meeting, but by 10 minutes, I’m not asking for business. Hmm. That’s all it is. So first icebreaker is very important. You know, I’ll tell you how I used to be that I used to be a sales manager. If you are going to any city, and you and my hotel is full, for example, if you went to Mumbai, and my hotel is full, and you’re asking me, that city is full. I don’t know what to do. And this and that. I used to help my customers.
Book another hotel.
Okay, huh. So
if you are a Booker in the company, see how I made your life easy? Yeah, you simply, huh. So probably I would have lost one or two room nights. But that person the whole lifetime?
Yeah, that reminds me, I think saying somebody was saying that. Even if you have to divert your customer to another of your competitor, just for a while, you shouldn’t be thinking twice, but just let them go. Because if you are good, they will come back and they will have better confidence in you. Whenever they see any problem in the future, they will not come they will not go directly to the competitor, they will come to you first.
People should appreciate also, you know, if somebody is going and somebody is talking about not my hotel, why should I say bad about any hotel?
Yeah, of course.
These days, everybody is smart. They understand and they read between the lines what you’re saying too, so that’s our and that is totally up to up to you how it’s an art actually. Yeah, selling is an art. No. Huh?
Yeah, no, I was asking. I was asking on the negotiations. So what is your advice on negotiation because nowadays, especially when people’s the hotels are in need, they are very low on the occupancy and customers, the companies they know corporate, they know that hotels are in need. So it’s easy for them to squeeze the the prices if you let’s say quote $50, they may ask you to come down at 30 they know that hotel has no no other choice if we are giving a business, the hotel have less choices nowadays because they are less occupancy No, no. Not much of retail business happening. So how do you try to maintain your your pricing or negotiate in these hard conditions?
Question is worth two parts. Yeah. It’s got two parts. I leave this part, which is a poorer part right now I’ll answer this. I’ll come to the first part. Yeah. Is negotiation. Yeah. If you have come on to the negotiation stage, that means you have cleared some stages earlier. Yes, sales has got different stages. Now if you have come to the negotiation stage, that means you’re qualified other stages as well. So by the time you qualify other stage, and you’ve come to negotiation, you should know that is this a person the right person or somebody else is the
decision maker. Hmm, yes.
Right. Like in the case of a corporate,
you may not get the chance to negotiate. They will say this
is the price. Yeah.
Yeah, they have a budget.
Yes. So there is a different way of knowing people here if I know Manish gota is a corporate guy who is asking $30 price I should know what number to have money’s got also, and I should call him whether he’s saying writing or not.
Or is there somebody about money? Jota? Who will say sorry? We can only do it 25 Hmm. All right. So if you’re dropping the price to $30 the business should come to you. Hmm. I just gave you an example. Yeah. Now coming on to the corona level, you know your product very well, you know, you’re costing very well, then when you have quoted $50 you should have you would have kept some negotiation margin. Yeah. Right. And it has, it is a human tendency. If I go to a shop, and I asked for something, he says 10,000. I said, I will definitely come back, you know, 1000. Yeah,
And in between, something will settle up.
That’s how it is, if you are confident your management is backing up, you know, your cost of running your hotel is $35. By $50, you can earn something, you should put 55 $58 but not that much. It should not cross your competition’s this thing. Yeah. Yeah. Got it. And if the price war is happening, you should step back. And you should clearly say I am not in despise, or probably tomorrow day after tomorrow for a month, I will not have business. But later. I am sure. And that is how most of the hotels, they have earned respect they do make their place like that this is the hotel will not negotiate
hmm. I hope I answered your question. Yeah.
Yeah. to pretty much to an to an extent, yes. Because it depends on the positioning of the hotel and the confidence level in the hotel. If they are confident enough, and they know what is the minimum price, then, even if you lose the business, you normally don’t want to negotiate on. Because in that case, you will not be able to win again in the future in the longer term, short term you can gain. But in long term, the same person will squeeze you again. And he was your reference last time you give us a discount of 40%. What happened now then?
Otherwise, you will lose the customer.
And sales always has stages.
Right? Probably I might have I am maybe at that stage where I can see an email. And I’ll come to know what is the story all about. But for a sales manager, junior person, there are certain stages, they will take time to qualify the lead understand what exactly is this what they’re asking for? You know, how do I actually qualify the lead first. So qualification is a different process, then you come on to a proposal level, then you come on to a contract level. By this time, you should know the hierarchy of the organization. Yeah, yeah. Right. It’s like handling your wedding. Hmm. There are five people coming in. But you don’t know who’s the decision maker?
Is it the bride or the bride’s father?
Yes, yeah. Yeah, I understand. So you’re very smart to understand without letting them know that you’re judging something out? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, he will have a little smart. So how do you judge? See in. If you say in weddings, first thing is don’t say no to anything. Right. If you don’t know anything, just note it down and ask for time. Yeah. And tell them I will come back to you on this. I’m not sure about it, huh?
All right. Don’t sell anything
Because beddings people come with a certain mindset.
Yes. Kind of you have certain budget.
They have budget, they come in a mindset and you have your list of things
where you can tell them because they come into your hotel, but they don’t know what all you have, you can do certain things without any cost. Mm hmm.
That’s all it is. And then
it’s always as I told you, people have to be really smart on this but it all comes to an experience hmm Initially, I also used to lose a lot of things than I used to analyze myself. How did I lose it? Hmm, what went wrong? Hmm.
So follow up follow up learning is also important you have to see what Where did you failed and what was the reason and how you can fix it in the future? Good. So what else techniques you suggest for sales manager or sales people’s to succeed in hotels?
You got a lot when you say techniques work, you’re talking on a technical part or you just are asking about the sales and marketing
Yeah, marketing parts is a marketing process.
Also technical techniques means the their skills at a skill level What what skills? Yes. So
all these things when come to a person, it becomes a profession. Hmm, right. Salespeople should first thing be very disciplined. And think from other’s point of view from the customer, I may send you. Yeah, I may send you a WhatsApp message. But I should know that either I’m sending your personalized WhatsApp message or I’m sending your bulk to you and you get a message will come to know it’s a bulk message not. Yeah. Right. It’s very annoying. So that’s misusing the technology. Right? Yeah. Like things. See all human tendency notices everything. Hmm. And small, small things that start getting people out of it, huh? Yeah. Starting sending a bulk SMS bulk email without the name. No, yeah. No, no. If somebody is not taking the call, you send him a message. I want to talk something that is different thing. Men calling him repeatedly is on?
correct. It’s very, very basic thing. Email advocates are very important. What language you’re using an email is very important. That can annoy a person but the language you use you send everything and then you say rooms are subject to availability? Yeah. Um, time it can say bloody I’m giving you so much of business using subject to availability. Hmm.
Rather, it can be your rooms will be on Friday. Check
it you’re just playing with words? That’s Yeah,
yeah. Good, good.
One more thing, your proposal should not be very high or should not be
very low. Yeah.
Your analysis of your hotels or a destination like for example, I will tell you I used to work for a company called Sterling holidays they were in minus 800 crores when I joined them. And they have hotels in various various destinations and they wanted the mice business to come to the hotels. Oh, how would I sitting in Delhi will come to know what Hotel in Darjeeling is giving what raid?
And you know what? It’s very easy. It’s not difficult. Hmm.
If your hotel teams know, what is their FMP marker? What is their authentic selling price? You can come to no proposal, a proposal rate of that hotel within 10 minutes of studying the website.
So that’s a great
there are many, many things like like this, who makes a person professional. Obviously person should be confident well dressed. always positive. always positive. Positivity is very important.
Hmm. Your body language
should tell the story. That’s it.
Yeah. Yeah. Good. Because we are in the hotels. And the body language is very important for us, especially the facial expressions. Absolutely. Not even
in hotels in personal life. Yeah, yeah. I mean, the body language the way
you walk, huh?
Yeah, okay. Yeah.
Yeah, those things in this
during the sale sales or marketing for us.