Hospitality Sales students go prospecting with Hyatt
May 6, 2019
Every spring, Howard Feiertag sends his Hospitality Sales students out prospecting. Not prospecting with pickaxes and sifting pans. Rather, prospecting with scripts and prospect survey sheets.
Over the last 25 years or so, Feiertag – namesake of the Howard Feiertag Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management – has partnered with hotels throughout the Commonwealth to provide students with the experience of prospecting for new business. Participating hotels agree to host students for a four-day period and provide for their housing, meals, and transportation while the students agree to help the hotels by making prospecting calls to potential clients.
“The opportunity allows students to get experience with prospect research,” explained Feiertag. “The students learn how to prospect from the leads they are provided by the hotels.”
Two of Feiertag’s students, Shelby Mullen and Sophie Smith, were hosted by the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. Smith explained why she selected the Capitol Hill location for her visit.
“I have always been attracted to urban settings due to their exciting and bustling environment,” she said. “I hope to work in New York City after I graduate, so I thought that getting a bit of exposure to the working world in a city would be a great experience.”
Ray Messina, director of sales, marketing, and events at Hyatt Regency Washington, D.C., described the preparation Mullen and Smith received.
“We gave them training on how to make calls to clients who book large events,” he said. “We also took the students on a tour of the property since that is the product that they are selling. We took them through the strengths and the weaknesses of the property in comparison to our competitors.”
The students made phone calls on behalf of the Hyatt Regency from a list of former hotel clients. If the phone call developed into a lead, a member of the Hyatt Regency sales team would then follow-up with the potential client.
“They walked us through what we should be saying on the phone and what to record on the prospect sheets,” Smith explained. “Since we had practiced doing prospect survey sheets in class, my project partner and I were well-prepared for this task. We were given sheets of previous accounts from business they had from 2016 to 2018, and it was our job to call the contact and see if they were planning any events or meetings that they needed ‘assistance’ with.”
Mullen added, “Making sales calls was something I had never done before, so I was pretty nervous when I first started calling. As time went on, it became such a routine that I didn't even need the script I was given and all my nerves went away.”
Over three days, Mullen and Smith made contact with 190 potential clients and found seven leads. “Their participation will result in revenue for the hotel over the next couple of years,” explained Messina. “Both students were very professional – they were all in. They were very interested in doing a good job and jumped in head first.
“Howard definitely gave us the right people and we definitely appreciate the partnership.”
According to Messina, the partnership is about more than just prospecting. “We wanted the students to do more than just make calls for us. The students had a real interest in what we do and we wanted to be able to give back to them. We wanted them to understand our business.”
Messina continued, “Most of all, we wanted to make sure that their time with us was enjoyable.”
Mullen said that she and Smith definitely enjoyed their time with the Hyatt Regency team. “The best part of this experience was not only the knowledge that I gained, but it was also how we were treated by the sales team. They made Sophie and I feel like we were actually part of their team.”
She continued, “Gaining hands-on experience like this before graduating is vital. You receive exposure in a real world setting and gain knowledge first person. You really can't beat that.
“They even took us to a Washington Nationals game!”
Written by Jeremy Norman