Are You An Order Taker?

Rath Meats Supermarket Checkout

Over the course of several years, I have seen many people refer to hotel sales managers as “order takers”. In that statement, there is an implication that we are not working very hard for our keep. You hear this so often from other departments that it is insulting.

They think that sales people just sit around waiting to pick up a ringing phone

The logic behind this thinking is that the buyer is the one that initiated and nearly completed the entire buying process for us. They went online, looked up our meeting space, checked out the rooms, read the reviews and then compared the hotel to our competitors. So when they call to get a quote, the person they engage with is little more than an order taker, kind of like the checkout clerk at the grocery store.

So what is wrong with order taking?

Nothing at all. As sales managers, we don’t get measured on how hard we work. We get paid for bringing in sales. And if that means that we have to play checkout clerk, then so be it. There is nothing wrong with that.

The problem is when being the “checkout clerk” is the only kind of sales we perform

If all we do is wait for the phone to ring, then we are order takers. If we are relying solely on our customers to initiate the inquiry for a room block or a corporate rate, then that is not selling – it’s order taking.

Real sales professionals continuously scan the market for any new opportunities in the area. They are the ones looking for leads in the local newspaper, driving through competitor parking lots, searching online and taking down names off of construction vehicles.

Sales professionals are the ones that go to sales blitzes, visit travel agents (yes, travel agents), and call on corporate travel planners. It takes this kind of effort every day to yield a good list of prospects. Prospects that we can make a sales call to.

Order takers don’t make sales calls

They find other ways to spend their time (email, water cooler, social network etc). All the while, real professionals are making outbound sales calls to their prospect list. It is how they convert prospects into leads. It’s how they raise awareness about the hotel among people that may not have even called the property.

Finally, order takers suffer from one significant disadvantage. At any given time, only around 2% of prospects are looking to buy. When they wait for people to call them, they’re only addressing a small percent of the potential business that is out there.

But sales is not about fulfilling the needs of this 2%

It means finding and maintaining relationships with the remaining 98% that will book business at some point in the next year. This additional revenue is where real salespeople add value. Because if we don’t prospect and find new business, the hotels overall sales will suffer.


Much like how water evaporates in a cup, every hotel loses a portion of their groups yearly. By some estimates, over 20% of groups move from their existing venue every year. Many will move to another city, some will leave dissatisfied, and some just need a change. No matter the reason, leave they will.

And it’s this lost business that needs to be replaced

Incoming calls certainly help, but they are not nearly enough to replace the decay in our book of business. What we need is a prospecting effort that enables us to find, book, and retain new business every day, every week, and every year.

At the end of the day, a great salesperson is not just a hunter or an order taker

In a hotel setting, he/she has to be both. We have to be ready to book the business when someone calls, but more importantly, we need to be making our sales calls when the phone is not ringing.

So if you are an order taker, it’s time to step up your game. It’s time to create a list of prospects that are ready to do business with you. It’s time to reach out and make those sales calls.

What should you do next?

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