What I wish I would’ve known before embarking on my hotel florist journey is this:
1. Know who to talk to.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but the hospitality hierarchy isn’t always clear and changes from property to property.
It’s intimidating walking into a 4- and 5-star hotel, knowing you want to partner with them but having no idea where to begin. And when we are overwhelmed, we tend not to act.
Typically, there are 3 tiers to the hotel hierarchy: mid-management, management (gatekeepers), and upper management (decision-makers).
The likelihood of speaking with a decision-maker – usually the General Manager or Owner of the hotel – is not impossible, but also not likely. However, I’m a big believer in the saying, “Shoot for the moon. If you miss, you’ll land among the stars,” so I ask to speak with the GM first.
Whether or not I will, well, we’ll see what happens. If I do, great! If not, next to speak with would be a gatekeeper.
The gatekeepers are the Director of Operations or the Director of Sales and Marketing. In some hotels – especially right now – the Director of Food and Beverage can also hire vendors.
If you’re having trouble reaching a Director, start with mid-management: the Front Office Manager, Food and Beverage Manager, Sales Manager, etc.
2. Determine where you can add value.
To do this, you need to visit the hotel as a guest. Experiencing the hotel from a guest’s perspective allows you to answer:
What is missing?
What type of clientele is visiting the property?
Are there any empty spaces?
Do they have florals?
If they do, it doesn’t stop there:
Are they lacking substance? Impact?
Do they have a WOW factor?
Yes, you have beautiful designs. Yes, you can source flowers at the best price. Yes, you can manage a team. But so can a lot of other florists. You are more than that.
In the hospitality industry, there’s a saying that goes, “take the monkey off my back,” and it means to make someone else’s job easier, so everyone is more equipped to create a better experience for the guest.
That’s what you do for hotels. You provide value. You provide solutions. You take a monkey off their back.
3. Decide what makes you unique.
Take a moment this week – preferably after you’re done reading this – to do 3 things:
Decide what makes you unique and why it matters.
I had been a wedding and events florist for years before starting The Hotel FloristTM, but I wasn’t happy designing for weddings and events.
It wasn’t until I took a step back to decide what made me unique that I had an “ah-ha” moment and realized why it mattered –
It’s when I found happiness in what I was doing again.
It brought me back to the feeling of when I was 6 years old, wandering around the fields surrounding my native Texas home, picking wildflowers to create a different arrangement for every room in the house.
I remember designing specifically to add something special to the space and make it feel more feminine or luxurious because I did not grow up in a very luxurious environment. It was not a great home situation, and I ended up in foster care by the age of 12.
We may not have had running water, but something about flowers helped me through those moments. Being creative and adding a luxurious touch to make every room feel more like a home, more than it ever could have been, was undeniably profound at such a young age.
And now, when I think about what I get paid to do, it is exactly what 6-year old Franceska would be doing.
“We have this blank wall here – what can you do with it?”
“When guests come in, we want this sense of arrival – help us do that with this empty space in the lobby.”
I just got goosebumps.
One of the best ways to build confidence and become a hotel florist is knowing who you are and how you’re different.
4. Have a signature style that makes you feel great.
Start by looking through your portfolio to identify work that makes you feel great, relaxed even.
To me, that means you feel 100% aligned with what you authentically created vs. the feeling of not liking (or even hating) what you’ve designed, even if everyone else is raving about it.
My signature style is linear, symmetrical, and monochromatic. I always tell the team, “If you could fold the design in half, it needs to mirror itself.”
Without that, I don’t feel great about my work.
How many of us have worked with a bride where you’ve presented a gorgeous proposal, but all she wants is what every other bride on Pinterest has?
And, like, a tiny part of your soul dies because it stifles your creativity and leaves you with zero artistic freedom.
That’s not how it works with hotels.
Having a signature style that you are confident in sets you apart and contributes to you being the expert, the solutions provider, the one who will take a monkey off their back.
5. Be an extension of their team, not just another vendor.
Floral vendors are entirely different from any other vendor in the hotel hierarchy. I add value by coming from a place of ‘I am going to be an extension of your team, not just another vendor.’
And like any member of a team, I want to contribute to their success. So when you come at it from this place, they, all-of-a-sudden, know, like, and trust you so much more than if you sell to them as “just another vendor.”
Binge all episodes of The Hotel Florist Podcast on iTunes or on Spotify
P.S. Be sure to check out my FREE masterclass for florists looking to create consistent 5k months through hotel partnerships here.