Not converting as much group business as you expected to this year? Before you start pointing fingers at any particular sales manager, consider this:

Your hotel may be receiving TOO MANY leads.

Right now, hotel sales departments are drowning in RFPs – qualified or not. This is caused by meeting planners casting out a wide net for proposals and sending them to the inboxes of 10, 20, 30 or more hotels that may or not be the best fit.

As a result, sales managers spend a bulk of their prime selling hours sifting through this barrage of potential business simply trying to determine which are the BEST leads to pursue. Then, and only then, can they move forward in putting together a targeted proposal to win more business from those qualified leads.

Here’s how hotel sales managers can qualify group leads and determine which RFPs are worth their while:

Which and How Many Hotels Are You Up Against?

Don’t make assumptions here. Reach out to the planner and ask how many hotels they are currently considering. Is it 3 or 30? Are they all in your area or is the planner still considering another city entirely? Most importantly, get the names of the other hotels that are in the running for this business. Are they in your comp set or on another level entirely? Right away, you should be able to gauge if the meeting planner has too large a pool for potential sites. These simple questions will give you more clarity and help you determine if winning this business is a longshot or big possibility.

Determine How Your Hotel Shines and Stumbles in Comparison

Next, figure out where you stand against the backdrop of the competing hotels. What do the other spaces offer that you don’t? What do you lack? Out of this group of competing hotels, which property is really your opponent for this piece of business? What is your chance of winning this event against these hotels?

Ideally, all your sales managers should know the shortcomings and the assets of all the other meeting and conference venues in town, so this shouldn’t be an exercise you have to do each and every time. You should automatically know how to sell against each member in your comp set. Take the assets that make your property and your meeting experience really remarkable and showcase that in all your dealings with the meeting planner – in the proposal, the site inspection, etc.

Look to the Past

Examine the venues this group booked previously and determine how you compare. What do they have in common? Are there hotels they continually return to? Find out what the meeting planner liked and disliked about previous venues. What was their favorite venue and why? What did attendees express in their post event surveys? Where did attendees have the best experience?

Dig Into the Planners’ True Preferences

Sometimes meeting planners are considering a wide breadth of options. Maybe they decided on a city, but don’t know if they want to be along the water, in downtown, or in another fun area of town. So, they send out 10+ RFPs to hotels in all of those areas hoping that one is a match. Help them decide which area would be best based on their preferences.

What’s truly important to them, besides rate? Distance from the airport? Access to golf? An outdoor, oceanfront reception space? Drill down and find out which amenities really matter to them and their attendees.

And even if they are seeking a certain amenity that you don’t offer, don’t count yourself out of the running just yet. Get creative and brainstorm how to deliver the experience they want.

Do they want a venue with cityscape views, yet your hotel is located 10 minutes from downtown? Partner with an amazing venue that can fill in the gap for you and propose that option instead, along with complimentary transportation.