The most successful hotel sales managers and sales directors don’t wait until the end of a negotiation to close the sale. They’re working the close from day one.
Modern corporate event planners and other meeting professionals are savvy buyers who aren’t easily swayed by standard sales tactics. So, don’t stop viewing the close as a “make it or break it” moment. Provide value, grounded advice, and the right tools and reinforce your hotel’s unique assets, amenities and service culture throughout the entire sales process.
We turned to the Groups360 meeting advisors, who are responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in group bookings, for their smartest closing secrets and tips for hotel sales teams.
Showcase what makes your property different
Consider this: Event planners see hundreds of properties every year. And even when they narrow in on a destination, it requires even more effort to differentiate between properties in the same city. After all, your hotel and those in your comp set may all start to look and sound the same.
That’s why it’s vital to stand out on every front — unique selling points, photos, copy, group offerings and more. Know your “It factor” and incorporate that into all of your sales and marketing efforts.
Demonstrate your remarkable staff culture
Event planners want a partner in meeting planning and a team that will execute their vision. That’s why your hotel’s service culture and how well you demonstrate it are vital to winning the business.
It’s one thing to proudly tout your staff and your high level of guest service. It’s another thing to actually prove it.
During our tenure at Gaylord Hotels, many assumed our It factor was soaring atriums and remarkable meeting space. But the truth was that many of our competitors also offered grand venue options. So, we dug deeper and found that our true differentiator was our acclaimed service culture and commitment to flawless execution.
To demonstrate this, we spent less time pointing out our high ceilings and more time in the back of the house where the event planner could see our team members working together to make our clients shine.
Never lose sight of your comp set
With all the tactics and monitoring tools at your disposal, you should never be surprised when a nearby hotel outperforms yours. Savvy hotel sales teams proactively seek key insights into their competition to see what offers they’re running and how well they are succeeding.
How do they position their meeting space and offers? What’s their sales message? How do they provide service to meeting and event planners in ways that you don’t? What about the product itself — do their meeting experiences outshine yours?
Finally, the most important question: What can your hotel sales team do to outperform and outshine the rest?
When you understand your competitors, you can better anticipate their performance, as well as yours. All this will help you achieve your room-night goals and more group revenue.
Advise, don’t pressure
Meeting and event planners are savvy businesspeople who don’t respond to the standard pressure tactics. They want a partner and an advisor who understands their goals and is going to help them reach those goals. Become a trusted meeting advisor and their personal destination expert.
If they need an intimate off-site dinner venue or team-building activities, send tailored recommendations with their attendees and unique objectives in mind. Don’t just send a link to your DMO. Always offer value, insight and thoughtful suggestions.
Think like an event planner
This closing secret is most vital: Understand what meeting and event planners want and need to ease any complications in the sourcing process. Then, show the event planner you understand what success means to them and that you and your team are prepared to deliver.
Respond quickly (within hours, not days) to their RFPs and questions, but don’t sacrifice detail and thoughtful review just in the interest of saving time. Offer the right tools and assets to help them visualize their event at your venue, including images of previous events, 360-degree virtual/live video tours (vital for meeting planners unable to conduct site visits), and customized floor plans that show their configurations. Organize site inspections around their needs, not yours.
Every interaction should work toward the event planner’s meeting objectives, not your hotel’s room-night goals.