Guided by Cal Poly Pomona's "Learn by Doing" teaching philosophy, students in my hotel sales class recently completed a sales blitz either for the Fullerton Marriott or the DoubleTree San Pedro.

In the assignment, students were asked to prepare a list of prospective clients for the hotel, then stay in the property for one night to get familiar with the managers and the hotel. Finally, they had to represent the hotel, doing a sales blitz. Many students had to get outside of their comfort zone and conquer the challenge of making sales pitches to strangers.

Today's technology, however, makes it easy for sales managers to locate and reach prospective clients over the Internet or on the phone. Consumers can also make travel plans with one click or two on the Internet. Then, why do hotel managers still bother to go out and talk to the prospective in person?

Without a doubt, technology is powerful and convenient. All it takes is a smartphone; travelers now can search and make reservations, check into a hotel, select an available room, open the guestroom, request for service or amenities, and check out — all without speaking to or interacting with any hotel staff.

The Fullerton Marriott, for example, has a touch-screen kiosk at the front desk, allowing Marriott Reward members to check in with a mobile device. According to the front office manager in the hotel, this mobile check-in concept was just rolled out by the brand in responding to the shifting needs of teach-savvy travelers.

Such new mobile phone concepts can be helpful if a hotel's sales and marketing team can analyze the "footprints" left by the travelers (i.e., data about consumer behavior on mobile devices). Nevertheless, no matter how powerful technology becomes, nothing can replace the importance of face-to-face interactions between a hotel's sales manager and the prospective.

Research shows that over 70 percent of communication among people comes from body language. A smart salesperson can tell within one minute or two if a prospective client has real potential through observable clues, such as eye contact, position of the hands, postures and so forth.

Moreover, a salesperson can open up a lot of conversations based on what a prospective client wears or what is on the person's desk. An engagement ring could open up a conversation for a big wedding in a hotel, and a pink ribbon could mean a charity function or a fundraising event in a hotel.

At the same time, a good salesperson's body language can also help him/her win trust from the prospective. For instance, a strong and firm handshake shows confidence. Good eye contact indicates attentiveness. These "rich" and face-to-face interactions can lead to higher trust among people.

So, no matter how old the word "sales blitz" may seem, it can still be helpful in generating leads. As a matter of fact, some students in class had generated immediate responses from the prospective for hotels on the same day when they were doing the sales blitz.

That is just another example of why sales blitz and face-to-face interactions can be effective in sales, isn't it?