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Expert Insight from Scott Murphy

Early in his career, Scott Murphy discovered that small touches can make a big difference.

“I started as a bellman at an old Holiday Inn in Spartanburg when I was in college,” said Murphy, who is now the director of sales and marketing at Hampton Inn and Suites Myrtle Beach Oceanfront in South Carolina. “That was in 1989, I think, back when bellmen wore uniforms.

“I realized that everyone else working at the hotel was wearing a suit. I went to my GM and asked if I could wear a suit. He wanted me to wear the bellman uniform. But I asked him to give me two weeks of wearing a suit because I thought it could help my tips. He gave me two weeks, and some guest service cards started coming in thanking me for my helpfulness, and my tips started going up. So he overruled the bellman uniforms.”

That manager recognized a creativity and knack for service in Murphy, so he soon promoted him to the front desk. Within several years, he had worked in almost every area of the hotel’s operations and found a career path that would lead him into sales positions with several major hospitality companies. In more than 30 years, he has worked for Marriott, Hilton, Choice Hotels and numerous independent properties throughout the Southeast.

“My mother raised me with the ‘Do unto others’ theory, so I already had that service mind-set,” he said. “When I was in operations, I enjoyed helping people, especially if they had issues. I could turn them around and fix the issues. Then, when I got into sales, it became about promising the moon and the stars, then delivering that.”

Everywhere he has gone, Murphy has surpassed sales goals and found new ways to serve customers, drawing on his breadth of industry experience.

“I’ve been in almost every facet of the hotel industry,” he said. “You learn things from your past that you can use in your present and your future. That can be a personality you have worked with or a situation you have worked through. And I found that you might work with somebody 20 years from now that you meet at a trade show today. It’s a small world, even though the industry is big.”

Trade shows are a big part of Murphy’s sales strategy. He attends about 15 each year to market his hotel to groups coming to Myrtle Beach during the fall and especially during the holiday season, times when family vacation business dries up.

“Follow-up is crucial,” he said of the trade shows. “A lot of people don’t do it. I’m still amazed that when I call someone, they’re impressed that I have reached out to them within a few days of meeting them. But relationships are the biggest key to the whole thing.”

When he’s not working at the hotel or attending a travel industry conference, Murphy enjoys spending time with his wife, two adult daughters and 16-month-old son.

“Parenting is so much different now than it was 20 years ago,” he said. “Things don’t seem as intense as they used to. And for some reason, I have more time to get down on the floor and play for two hours at night than I did 20 years ago. From 5 o’clock until bath time, that’s where we are.”

Sales Tip from Scott

“Work closely with partners in your market or in other cities. For us it’s Charlotte, Wilmington, Charleston and Savannah — people come through us to get there. So I try to know what the options are in those other destinations and think outside the box to help them plan.”

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.