Hotel Sales Super Star

05/11/2012

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Sell me a Themed Break – See if you can!

If you have function space at your hotel then I am guessing you have catering menus of some sort.  The packet of catering menus is often this huge listing of different buffets and plated meals, themed events, a la carte (consumption) items and bars.    The catering packet is often one of the first things given to an event/meeting planner after they have signed their contract.  And then the process of planning their events begins.
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Which leads me to the point of this article – how well do you know your catering menus?  Sure, you can tell me that your hotel has Sandwich/Deli Buffet lunch menu with sandwiches and salads.  So what!  I already knew you had that menu!  How do I know that?  Because almost every hotel on the planet has that menu!  Just like the Continental Breakfast menu and the Break Menu with cookies, soft drinks and coffee.

We all know those menus intimately because so many of our clients request them.

But how well do you really know your Continental Breakfast Menu?  Sure we are all capable of reading the menu where it says that for $XX you will serve up Assorted Breakfast Pastries and Muffins, Fresh Fruit, Orange Juice, Tea & Coffee.  Your clients are just as capable of being able to read the menu too, so they already know this much.  But let’s go further…
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Is your Orange Juice freshly squeezed?  If yes, is it bought that way, or squeezed on property?  Or is the Orange Juice made from concentrate?  How do you serve the Orange Juice?  Is it individual bottles presented in an ice tray, or pitchers of juice?  If it is pitchers, how do you keep the juice cold?  How about the Pastries and Muffins – are they made on property?  If yes, are they made from scratch, of do you buy them pre-made and just have to bake them?  If they are bought from outside do they get delivered fresh each morning, or does your Chef freeze them?  Where are they bought from?  What types of pastries are included?  Are the Croissants plain or do they have chocolate inside?  How many calories are in the muffins?  Do you have sugar-free muffins?  How big are they?

I could go on and on!  Can you safely answer every conceivable question about every item on your entire catering menu?  I doubt it!

We spend a lot of time talking about how important it is for catering to continually upsell clients as much as possible, but how can we even begin to upsell a client on the ‘Deluxe Continental Breakfast’ if we are unable to fully describe all the contents of the menu.  If you want me to spend $3 more per person to upgrade to the Deluxe menu then you better be able to tell me why I should!

When was the last time you sold a client on one of those themed breaks?  You know the ones – the themed break menus that always sound fabulous but never get sold.  Of course the ‘Decadent Chocolate Lovers Break’ never gets sold - you don’t truly know all the parts of the menu.  If you did then you would probably love the chocolate macaroons dipped in coconut icing that taste just like your Grandma used to make.  

Are you hungry now?  Well you are hungry because I know those macaroons intimately and they are delicious.  Because I know that to be a fact it is so easy for me to sell that themed break to you.
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Think of it this way – would you attempt to sell a group your guestrooms without knowing what the interior of your guestrooms looked like?  Every hotel has guestrooms – so what sets yours apart from the rest?  This is second nature (hopefully) to sales managers, yet for some reason we just brush over the catering side of things.

Maybe its because we figure that they have already booked with us by the time they go to pick out menus, but my biggest point here is how can you up-sell if you don’t full know the menus inside out.

So what can you do to get to know your catering menus better?  Well first of all, be present when the food comes out.  Ask the kitchen questions about the food coming out.  Questions like how it was prepared, what the ingredients are, and what it tastes like.

You should also definitely get to taste the food.  I am not suggesting that you ask the Chef to prepare one of every dish for the catering team to sample (although that does sound like a fun afternoon), but just make sure that the Chef knows that next time he is preparing the Chicken Parmesan for a group that you would like to give it a try. 

All good Chefs will welcome you wanting to know their menus better – they know your increased knowledge of the menus is actually going to help their food cost!

So are you just going to be an order taker (if so, then totally disregard this article) who just responds to their clients requests, or are you going to be a Catering Sales Manager who actually sells (there is a concept) their clients on the best menu for their needs based on your full knowledge of the catering operation at your hotel?

Now see if you can seel me that Decandent Chocolate Lovers Themed Break!