I was just talking to my favorite hotel technology company. I’ve worked with them for almost a decade, and I appreciate them. They aren’t snake oil, they don’t assume they know the business better than hotel people, and they are changing the game. I won’t name them, but feel free to ask. They’re basically indispensable, so you can probably figure it out.

But, hotels are burnt out on the 99% of tech that is bells and whistles. And they’re burnt out, because *I* am the guy getting emails for tech sales opportunities, and most of it is garbage, and I tell *EVERYBODY* that. So if you aren’t amazing, revolutionary technology that means to help our business, you will be found out. I mean that delicately. But don’t try to take advantage of us.

Mind you, I am not talking about the tech, alone, this time…. OH MAN I have talked about all the gimmicky technology that hotels are blowing their owner’s money on. NOT GOOD.

But this is about the old school world of sales, as it appears in the newer world of email.

Sales was never meant to be this passive, unless you are a billboard. Well, you probably have realize I can ignore a billboard, and I can decimate an email…. so what are the ones I interact with? What are the ones that might as well not exist, in any way? What about the ones that cause me to pause, and then delete it.  What goes straight to spam, never to be considered or seen again?

The psychology goes something like this:

If I find and like a tech, I reach out to them. This may or may not be about getting an email. But don’t think hotelier are some sort of passive idiot, incapable of using the internet to find ways to drive growth, strength, success, or revenues in the biz. We’re pretty committed to not destroying our business…. don’t assume you’re the best thing since sliced bread, and we’re incapable of understanding that.  We know what’s legit, and we’re going after it, because it sets us apart from our competitive set.

Most tech finds me, it’s gimmicky and not right for our hotels…. I delete those or ignore it. It’s easy to parse that, quickly. For the 3% of the times I’ve made a judgement error, the same technology becomes important enough to pass from fad, into the realm of trend. I will obviously hear about it again, and if appropriate, my interest will be piqued.  By the time it’s gone from fad to trend to standard, your chance to stand out and differentiate as a hotel has already gone, and you just need the tech for normal operations. So people that can peel the junk out of fads can really come to market as innovative and smart game changers in the hotel industry…. but most of us don’t have the skillset nor capital to overinvest in fad tech that doesn’t justify the cost.

If that email comes in the form of an obvious copy/paste cold call… that email is consciously spammed. I want to make this clear: if your tech company is sending unoriginal form emails for your sales efforts… they are not being ignored and deleted. They are being spammed, and therefore your url or product will never exist in their inbox, ever again.  But, thankfully shows like Silicon Valley have also outed the pop-tech that tries to look as if it is not spammy copy-pasta, but it is.  Namely…. when you have a hip, cool startup, where everyone seems to have drunk the kool-aid, and they think they’ve revolutionized our business, it’s a huge turn off.  It just feels like you are getting into bed with overly giddy kids that don’t really get what they are doing, vs copying the motivations and energies of all those other silly startups with really bad names.  The tell-tale and brutal example are those highly overproduced demo videos…. anytime I see one of those, I can’t help but think just how much money of a VC was wasted, vs just doing a web demo with me.  I realize you need to show your product, but the level of marketing and “pizazz WOW SO COOL” feels like a sideshow, and used car dealer, vs someone trying to show us the real value of a business tool.  I think of a startup wasting money, being flashy, ignoring solid business sense. I don’t usually talk to them.  It might not be a spam click, though. I usually ignore it, and delete it. This gives them an opportunity to intelligently reply back, in the future, with better sales tactics, and I am open to them…. but if you reek of the show “Silicon Valley”, it’s probably a pass. Stop spending money on schwag.

But the email that I will respond to?  When a startup ***personalizes*** a request to chat about their product, and demo it instead of showing me how much seed money they burned doing marketing? I will talk to that guy all day.  I am sure others could concur, but it’s pretty easy to get the professional feel of these tech companies prior to even doing the demo.  When it’s real, simple, polite, deferential? Yeah… that’s my new best friend, and I will listen to you, even if it’s to give advice vs truly believing I am ready for your product. I am patient for thoughtful, intelligent, genuine people.  I wish more people would be this thoughtful, and thorough, with how they approach hospitality. If nothing else, realize our culture is not your culture, and we still don’t mind looking good in a suit and being on time for a meeting, in person.

I like bootstrapped startups… people who *know* they’re product is important, but also understand that hospitality isn’t always ready to dive into a flashy pool party with the hot new thing.  We’re conservative with our (owner’s) money, and we’re not only going to vet it, and try to shoot it down… but most of us are skeptics, and by the time we believe in your product, we’re turning to our peers to help shoot it down.  We like to be thorough.  Some of this is having been burned by tech, A LOT, in the past… so our industry of being in hospitable relationships took a hit when we realized that a lot of tech people aren’t looking out for your best interests, and just want your money (or data as proof of concept).  I’ve made that joke about “startups answering questions no one asked”, but the true joy is watching the back end of people trying to convince you they’ve solve the problem you don’t have.

But there is one tried and true sales tactic that has been used by successful people since the dawn of time: RESEARCH.  I still do not understand just how poorly people do this. I know a lot of young sales people think “sales” is “waiting for leads from some computer”. It’s so frustrating when you come across these types, but it’s also wonderful because there is so much to learn, and so many ways you can train them.  To be clear, the true death knell of a sales opportunity is if the company reaching out to me hasn’t checked our website, doesn’t understand the hotel biz, or our management biz.  It’s especially egregious if these fancy technology companies can’t inform their sales people to past sales attempts, past communications, or whether the company may be working with the group in some capacity.  The amount of sales calls I get from companies *already* working with us at another hotel is absolutely astonishing.  I assume modern contact software can tell an entire company if they had ever contacted a business, or if they are already working with said business. I am sure of it.  It’s like when Yelp scaled and all of a sudden I was getting two calls a day, from different people, selling different hotels, and some we had done ads (so long ag0) with Yelp.  How much confidence do you have in a company that doesn’t know they’re talking with someone they already work with?

But, honestly… this is all about scale right? My “bootstrap startup” fandom is that notion when the business is stricly one idea, and 2 or 3 people. But, it is when you grow, and haven’t planned for the proper systems to overlay or replace previous ones, scale with your company, etc.  When you responsibly scale, you can plan for these things. But the fear in the valley is being too slow, so you always get these growth issues.

This seems to be most problematic in sales, especially as it’s not just systems, but the rotating of young account execs and sales people as they get hired and quit, constantly, due to growth volatility. It’s actually amazing the tech company culture isn’t as strong as people think, considering how little loyalty or long term employment is really found, in a sense of loyalty. See chart and link at bottom.

So.. if you are in tech, there’s some friendly open kimono stuff to pontificate.  So this isn’t a judgement, or anything. Just a dorky hotel guy that took a few extra seconds to ramble. Cheers.

But I am SHOCKED about retention, in lieu of all this “culture” talk in SV. So weird.

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