TLC TKO – Are You Ready To Fight?

Are you ready to resume the fight?  For almost a year we have been treading the sales waters, staying safe, and biding our time in hopes that the tides would turn and we could get back into the ring and knock the competition for a loop.  Now is the time as restrictions are beginning to lift and customers are actually thinking about venturing out from behind their webcams and home offices, putting on real clothes, and venturing back out into the world of business.  We must be ready to provide “Tender Loving Care” in order to win a “Technical Knock Out” of the competition.  

"There is no sale without the story; no knockout without the setup."
Gary Vaynerchuck

You’ve been training; you have your tools; your hotel is clean; you are competitively priced…. so now is the time to deliver the knock-out punch….. get out of the hotel and start finding your customers!

Embrace combining in person and virtual meeting formats:  Virtual meetings aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. We’ve talked about creating fun and engaging virtual meetings opportunities at your hotels in the past.  Balancing a company’s needs for in-person meetings and travelers not-yet-ready to travel is an on-going issue.  Hopefully you have put together collateral and packages that solve the pandemic-related occupancy restrictions for your hotel’s meeting space to show customers. As planners get back to planning, they are going to need guidance on how to sell their colleagues on the idea of in-person meetings with a virtual component. It is our job as sales people to demonstrate all the details of planning these combination meetings. Consider putting together a “do’s and don’ts” piece on planning 2-punch events.

Use social media to educate your guests: A recent industry survey showed that 58.9 percent of meeting planners are still uncomfortable with travel as the biggest reason preventing returns to meetings. An additional 22.1 percent said they weren’t comfortable with meeting venues. As salespersons and hoteliers, our job is to help guests feel safe. We must use our selling skills and information about our hotel’s protocols to fulfill that need. 

Social media is both an efficient and a low-cost way to let your customers know how you are keeping them safe. Short informative videos of how your staff is working to keep guests safe can be effective. Even if you are located in a suburban destination, create posts with ideas of what guests could do in your area when they are able to visit. All of these create a sense of wonder and build the wanderlust that is growing among travelers.  People are tired of being at home so even the largest ball of twine will appeal to some travelers!

Make sure you know where to start selling: Some large companies are shifting their travel policies to allow their employees to travel. While much of this travel may be transient business bookings, it is indicative of companies who will likely start to hold meetings first. Your sales team should be mining daily market segment and rate code reports to see who is traveling and staying in your hotels. Make sure travelers from your key accounts are welcomed and have everything they need. GSRs can help the sales departments if they keep track of corporate customers that are checking into your hotels!  Ask them to “print screen” folios for customers who have company names entered and then drop these copies in the sales mail box!  Great service now will lead to meetings when they emerge. 

Think local for small meetings: Small groups have returned to the marketplace – mostly teams and small social events. This is a time when your sales team will need to focus on micro segments and not macro. Legal, healthcare and financial industries are leading the way. Many of the companies in these segments may not have reopened their local offices. However, they have a need to meet face to face. Wouldn’t your hotel be ideal to fill that need? Consider a short term points incentive or other such reason for them to stay with you.

Having your team start with these segments and work within them to connect with local companies to capture existing demand will broaden your reach and help create lasting relationships that will serve your hotel well for years to come. 

Develop personalized messaging: Hard sales pitches are probably still too big a punch. However, having a “we are here to help” message won’t go astray. For each type of contact opportunity, your sales team should be armed with three rounds of questions:

  • What to say if the customer answers the phone – you called, don’t be surprised when they pick up!
  • What to say in a voicemail – develop a cheat sheet script so your message is upbeat, crisp, and concise.
  • What to say in an email – keep a log of phrases that you have developed that support your personal and brand culture.  Keep lists of buzz words and well-written answers to FAQs handy.  Why recreate the wheel every time you write an email/letter.

Each of the above points should be concise and meaningful and convey your venue’s value proposition. Purposeful messaging that piques the customer’s interest goes a long way in gaining trust and in turn opens the door for your sales team. While you might not like to “script” yourself, you will find having a basic guideline will help with consistent messaging and make your team come across more heartfelt than if they merely “wing” it. Remember your “if this then that” lists?

As part of this process, don’t forget the cadence they should adopt when reaching out. It should always start with a personal call and a voicemail if necessary.  Think about last month’s Monday Matters training topic!  If a voicemail is left, follow-up with your heartfelt email. Finally, and most importantly, it should include a call to action that details next steps. Follow-up call should occur in three to four days if the contact hasn’t responded.

Have people available: Booking windows are incredibly short right now. Make sure you and your after hours staff can  respond to simple questions. Often meeting planners are calling and booking at the same time. Don’t miss an opportunity because there was no one available to check space and take a booking. 

Don't let a little black eye scare you off!

It likely will take a few rounds to get back into fighting shape. Don’t stand still with your back to the ropes. The inability to travel and meet has most assuredly put a crimp in our sales strategies and left many of us feeling down for the count. But have confidence, the end of this fight will come, likely sooner than many of us think. And being in shape for the next round will position your sales teams to come out winners.

Happy Fighting!


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