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20 Hotel Sales Interview Questions to Ask Every Candidate

So you’re expanding your hotel sales team: congratulations! Next up is drafting some hotel sales interview questions. Here is the list of the top 20 hotel sales interview questions you might ask to hire the best candidate in the pool.

1. Do a hotel’s fixed costs disappear if rooms go vacant? Why or why not? 

Why You Should Ask:

For an educated hotel sales associate or manager, this kind of question should be a piece of cake. Understanding the fundamentals of hotel revenue management shows that they understand competitive pricing values and can help sell sleeping or meeting rooms with this strategy in mind. Even if they lack real-world experience, a candidate who can accurately answer this question is one you should feel confident about. 

How You Should Answer:

Fixed costs aren’t usually related to hotel occupancy because they refer to expenses that will never change. Instead, sales representatives will need to continue surpassing the fixed costs of a hotel through sales numbers that are greater than those expenses in order to create profits. 

2. What do you think makes the best hotel sales proposal?

Why You Should Ask:

A great hotel sales proposal can make or break them on the job, which is exactly why you should ask this question during the interview. In addition to learning about their strategy, listen for the logic behind each point as it showcases their thinking patterns. Those thinking patterns might just be the perfect fit for your brand and how you operate. 

How You Should Answer:

When it comes to winning group business, a solid sales template can really help, so be sure to review or write on that you can refer to when answering this question. Note the inclusion of statistical data along with testimonials and some personalized features for brownie points.

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3. What are some ways you have helped decrease perishability rates at your last job?

Why You Should Ask:

Hotel managers need to ask questions like this one because at the end of the day, hiring someone who can optimize sales performance is the goal. Having a clear understanding of pricing models and how to work within them is a sign of adaptability as well. A quality sales associate will know how to maneuver through these more challenging aspects of the position. 

 How You Should Answer:

Hotel revenue management best practices show that demand forecasting, flexible pricing structures, and a thorough understanding of your target audience all help decrease perishability relates. If you have a real example of how you used one of these strategies in a former position, make sure you highlight it.

4. How do you work to meet the needs of traveling groups like professionals attending a tradeshow, and how is that different from other groups (like sports teams, off-site meetings, etc.)?

Why You Should Ask:

The needs of groups vary greatly and hotel sales associates need to understand the purpose of each event, which selling points best fit those needs, and how key demographics differ from one another. 

How You Should Answer:

Because this question requires you to have a thorough understanding of groups that frequent hotels, make sure you brush up on each one by noting who they are, what they’ll spend their time during their stay, and what would persuade them to stay at your hotel versus a competitor.

5. Name two or three feeder cities that provide business to hotels in this area.

Why You Should Ask:

This gets into the big picture of hotel sales – where do your guests come from? Knowing this will help determine what sales tactics are used and which selling points are given more weight. The candidate can also use this question as an opportunity to show that they understand how the industry works as a whole as well as how attuned they are with the current region.

 How You Should Answer:

Research the region of the hotel you’re interviewing for ahead of time. If it’s not obvious what cities would be the correct answer, look for landmark events that the hotel’s target audience would most likely attend. Chances are there will be info on where those event attendees are primarily from when you look closer at the event marketing.

6. What are your thoughts on ecotourism and its possible effect on the future of the hotel industry?

Why You Should Ask:

Sustainability is more than just a hot topic these days, it’s an absolute necessity for the future of the business. If the candidate has been keeping up with recent industry news they should be able to articulate their expectations for it in a thoughtful way. Regardless of what they say, showing genuine excitement or interest in the possibilities these changes can bring will prove they’re invested in this job for more than just a paycheck.

How You Should Answer:

This is a topic you should know very well by now. And if not, take time to get familiar with it. Answer honestly and try to refer to at least one major industry publication when making your point.

7. How quickly do you typically get back to leads?

Why You Should Ask:

We know that the faster they get back to someone, the better. But does the candidate understand why exactly? Besides avoiding phone tag, there are some legitimate reasons why the tortoise loses to the hare in this race, and the candidate should be able to expand on that. 

How You Should Answer:

Consistent and quick responses are vital for hotel sales. In fact, a lead response made within the first hour of contact will be ten times more successful than a response made any time afterward. And responses within five minutes often result in better qualification rates. 

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8. What is the difference between yieldable and non-yieldable hotel business?

Why You Should Ask:

It’s a basic terminology question, but it’s one that comes on a lot of hospitality related certification tests. If the candidate has used these terms before, they’ll be able to quickly answer. If they’re not sure, it may or may not be a sign that they aren’t familiar with important industry terms, which is something worth considering if you’d like to hire someone who can hit the ground running. 

How You Should Answer:

Yieldable business means you have the luxury of rejecting an offer if you get the opportunity to book those rooms on that date for a higher price. Non-yieldable business is the opposite.

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9. How important is F&B to your group sales strategy?

Why You Should Ask:

As hotel managers, we already know that F&B is a great selling point, especially for luxury and upscale properties. But does the candidate understand why that is? Feel them out with this question. 

How You Should Answer:

For event planners, F&B can make all the difference. In fact, it’s often the key differentiator in their decision-making process which is why it should be included in your hotel sales strategy.

10. If a group of guests was to check in on a Sunday for a corporate retreat but check out on a Monday, would they pay the weekday rate, weekend rate, or short-term rate?

Why You Should Ask:

It seems like a bit of a riddle, but it’s important that hotel managers ask questions like these as they’ll definitely come up in day-to-day situations with guests. Charging the correct rate is the most important thing a hotel sales associate can do, so be sure they understand the ins and outs of standard pricing systems before you hire them. 

How You Should Answer:

Kayak did a global study on hotel rooms and found that checking in on a Sunday provides the cheapest hotel rates on average. And since pricing is individual to brands and properties, your answer would depend on the pricing structure of the hotel you’re interviewing for.

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11. If given the opportunity, how would you personally improve lead management?

Why You Should Ask:

Learning how to capture, organize, contact, and nurture leads is the foundation of this position. If you’re looking to build a team that revamps your lead management strategy, look for unique and fresh answers. If you’re more interested in growing your current strategy, look for answers that align with your current system.

How You Should Answer:

However, you choose to answer, make sure your response shows your knowledge of current hotel industry trends as well as speedier responses, better lead scoring, and a thorough understanding of group segmentation.

20 hotel sales interview questions

12. Define the term “seasonal rate” as it’s used in the hotel industry.

Why You Should Ask:

Some of the questions we’ve covered so far get into nitty gritty or complex areas. If you’d like to throw them a softball, consider asking them this fairly basic (yet industry specific) question. 

How You Should Answer:

A season rate is the price a hotel will charge based on what time of year it is and how likely they are to reach maximum capacity during that time. For example, ski resorts often have high seasonal rates while northern beach escapes have lower seasonal rates during the same time.

13. What do you think of our hotel’s current positioning? What would you do to improve it?

Why You Should Ask:

If you’d like to pick a candidate who is a team player and cares about the hotel’s overall success, they’ll surely have a good answer to this question. Encourage them to be honest. Most candidates might feel timid about it, but they may just give you some really useful insight you hadn’t thought of before. 

How You Should Answer:

Make sure you research and understand the marketing this hotel is currently putting out. Compare it to their three main competitors for bonus points.

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14. Name three hotel sales certifications.

Why You Should Ask:

Hopefully, the candidate will possess at least one of the certifications they name. If not, follow up this question by asking them if or when they plan to acquire one. Either way, being able to name some hotel sales certifications means that they’ve at least looked into it at some point.

How You Should Answer:

CHSP, HSMAI, and most other hospitality certifications should make your list.

15. Which of the following terms describes the number of occupied rooms over a given time period: number of room nights sold, the percentage of occupied rooms, or beds occupancy?

Why You Should Ask:

Knowing the answer to this question will show that the candidate has a thorough understanding of how hotel managers will measure and report booking success. Which, ultimately, will help them keep up with their own performance. 

How You Should Answer:

Beds occupancy.

16. In your opinion, what are some unconventional ways hotels can optimize profits?

Why You Should Ask:

Most interviews involve a little out of the box thinking, which is exactly why hotel managers should consider questions like these. Can the candidate come up with an interesting (or viable) profit strategy? Then they can probably sell rooms and packages with flying colors. 

How You Should Answer:

A trick to answering this question – research some of the innovative ways leading hotel brands are currently positioning themselves. If you spot any trends, it may reveal some interesting profit strategies.

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17. What is the difference between a valley period, a peak period, and a shoulder period?

Why You Should Ask:

Hotel sales 101. If your candidate has trouble accurately defining these key terms, they might not be the best fit. Or, if they have a strong willingness to learn, they might just need a little more experience.

How You Should Answer:

Valley is your slowest business time, while peak is your highest. Shoulder periods are the in-between times.

18. Name the basic services that all hotels must offer their guests.

Why You Should Ask:

Hotel industry standards are essential information for sales associates. They have to know what guests are already accustomed to so that they upsell or promote features that are truly unique about your property. Otherwise, they might forfeit sales to competitors who do a better job of standing out from the crowd.

How You Should Answer:

While there aren’t any official laws for this in the United States, most full-service hotels are expected to have room, shuttle, and turn-down services, as well as security, miniature toiletries, and in-room comforts like televisions, hair dryers, and microwaves.

19. What is an extended-stay hotel? What are the benefits to guests who stay there?

Why You Should Ask:

Even if your property is not categorized as extended-stay, it’d be good to know what the candidate’s knowledge of the business is as a whole. It will also help them pitch to guests who might be looking for alternatives. In this scenario, the customer would be able to educate them on their options while also spelling out why yours is superior.

How You Should Answer:

To combat the market effects of services like AirBnB, hotels are now expanding their offerings to include extended-stay properties. This also includes rooms where guests can rent for a longer than average time period without signing a contract. Guests benefit from discounted prices and maximum travel flexibility.

20. Describe, to the best of your ability, a typical group of customers who frequent this hotel. What are their needs and wants? What unique selling points would you personally use to get them to book?

Why You Should Ask:

A test of how well they know your brand and property, this is one hotel sales interview segment you should never go into an interview without. Did the candidate do their research? Do they understand what the brand is all about? Can they do the job? This set of questions helps answer this and a whole lot more. 

How You Should Answer:

Research, research, research. Look for clues in their marketing and sales materials. Also, check out the who is leaving reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. You can even call the sales department ahead of your interview and see if they can give you any clues as to what groups they primarily cater to.

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