Hotel Sales Super Star

07/06/2010

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A Site Inspection without Clients

Recently I wrote about different ways to make your site inspection stand out from the pack.  Certainly it is very important to be creative to ensure that your property is the one that the client remembers first when they return to their office.  But what about the rest of your prospects that simply cannot get to your property for a site inspection?

In today’s economy, the number of meeting planners that actually travel to visit properties before booking is dwindling at an alarming rate.  Resort locations have struggled with this for years, but now many inner-city hotels face the same dilemma.  It is one of the greatest challenges that modern day hotel Sales Managers face – how to actually get the client to your property in the first place? 
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Many hotels rely almost exclusively on their proposals to give their clients the best idea of what their property looks like.  Many hotels have added pictures and videos to their websites to give prospective clients a better feel for the property.  Visually stimulating proposals and websites are an absolute must , but they certainly don’t replace the hands-on approach of a site inspection in terms of effectiveness.

So what’s the solution?  Simple – go into the movie business!  What do you mean you aren’t a movie producer?  Anyone can be!

All you have to do is have a colleague film you doing the client’s site inspection!  Next time a client tells you that they would love to come to your property for a site inspection but they simply don’t have the time or the budget tell them ‘No problem, I will film conduct the site inspection anyway and have my colleague film it for you’. 

Go ahead and plan the site inspection just like any other.  This means that all the normal rules of site inspections apply – ie. be creative, plan the tour, tailor it to the client, involve the team etc etc.  Then enlist a colleague with a video camera to film you doing the site inspection.  Obviously your client is not there, so all you need to do is pretend that the video camera is your client!

Then when you have finished you just need to email the video file to your client.

Some tips:

   1.    Don’t use the same video twice.  The whole point of this is to tailor your site inspection to the client and not be generic.

   2.    Put the same amount of time and effort into doing your video site inspection as you would for an “in-person” site inspection.  This should not be more work than a normal site, but it deserves as much effort.

   3.    Don’t get too hung up about the quality of the video.  Remember that the whole point is to make it very clear that you understand that your client couldn’t get to the property so you produced a short video just for them.

   4.    Don’t try to edit the video – this will only make the client think that you have cut out the parts of the hotel you don’t want them to see.  Keep filming the entire site inspection.

   5.    Think you don’t have access to a video camera?  Think again – there is bound to be someone in your office with at least a video camera on their cell phone!

   6.    File too big to email?  Transfer it to a memory stick and mail that to your client (a hotel branded memory stick would have an even better impact!)

   7.    Follow up with your client on the phone to see if they want you to film any areas in more detail.  Maybe they have a question about how far the walk is between meeting rooms – go ahead and film yourself walking it!

And finally – have fun with it!  Your clients will be amazed at the effort that you have gone to – when in reality you have put no more effort into the site inspection than if they had actually come to visit.

So while your competitors are complaining that they are never able to get meeting planners to their hotels for site inspections you will be able to smile knowing that EVERY meeting planner gets a site inspection at your hotel!

So get to it – try out this approach and let me know how it went!

 

07/23/2009

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Site Inspection WOW # 3

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This week’s Site Inspection WOW comes from Stacey who tells the story of a Site Inspection that she conducted with her colleague Christine:

Here is what I remember from the site inspection that we did for Mike's Hard Lemonade many years ago.

We went on to the website for colors and themes.  We read through the info on the company for more ideas.  We also found a comment on the website that no one knew what "Mike" looked like and there were no pictures of Mike.   That was our inspiration.

That led us to create posters with tag lines like - "Have you seen Mike today?" and "Do you know what Mike looks like?", and used  pictures that we cut out of magazines of all different types and ages  of men.  We strategically placed these around the hotel so that at every turn on our walk through, there was another poster - I think we had about 6 or 7 in total.

We also displayed all of their products in places like the bar and the restaurants so that when we walked by, they could be seen.

We concluded the tour in the meeting space.  The last meeting room we walked into was the one we had reserved for them.  We had set the meeting room classroom style (the set up they preferred for their meeting) and used black and yellow linens - their company colors.

We had yellow hazard tape around the entrance doors.  We had lemons on every classroom table with buckets for drinks.  We had their logo on a screen in front of the room.

Of course we got the business!  It was clear they appreciated the effort and the creativity. We had a great time doing it and they were entertained throughout the site, which made the entire experience more fun for everyone.  It gave us more to talk about and a better personal connection to the meeting planners.

Way to go Stacey – goes to show that a little effort doesn’t have to cost a lot of money – but it sure makes a difference with the clients!

 

07/16/2009

4 Comments

 

Site Inspection WOW # 2

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Welcome to the second installment of Site Inspection WOWs!  This week's site inspection WOW is actually one of my own (not being one to boast!)

Actually it’s not so much a site inspection WOW, but more a sales 101!

So this site inspection occurred when I was working as a Business Development Manager at an airport hotel.  I had been focusing on finding new SMERF business for our summer as the numbers were a little off.  I had managed to develop a good relationship over the phone with a SMERF group that we had lost on rate 4 years prior.  I convinced them to come back and meet with us and do a site inspection.

The clients, four retired ladies, arrived on property the day prior to the site inspection and we took them to dinner.  Over dinner (and drinks) the ladies mentioned a number of times how their group was looking for a hotel to call 'home'.  It was subtle but I could sense how important this was to them.

So, after dessert I left the ladies with the Sales Manager while I ran back to my office.  I found an image on the internet of a 'Home Sweet Home' sign blew it up and made 4 color copies.  I went and taped a copy of each of the signs on the outside of each of the four ladies guestroom doors.

The next day when we started the site inspection all 4 ladies told me how cute it was.  But they got an even bigger surprise when we finished our site inspection, as I had arranged to have the entire management team waiting in the lobby each holding a large letter that when held up spelt 'Welcome Home'.

I know it sounds really corny - but it worked!  The concept of finding a 'home' for their group was very important to the ladies - but they also loved the fact that our’s was a hotel that had listened to their needs. 

They resigned with us - 2 separate programs for 2 consecutive years.



 

07/09/2009

1 Comment

 

Site Inspection WOW # 1

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Maryanne of New York tells the following story:

We were trying to secure the group contract for a particular college football team and I had managed to set up a site inspection for the team.  We knew we were competing with a number of top hotels so we really wanted to set ourselves apart from the competition.

I knew that they were doing a site inspection with another hotel immediately prior to my hotel, so I started by making arrangements to meet them out the front of that hotel when they had finished.  When they finished that hotel’s site inspection they walked out the front of the hotel to meet me, and my General Manager waiting with a stretch Hummer limo.  We then drove to my hotel, during which time my GM regaled them with stories of his failed high school football career!  I was scared of what he might say next, but the Football Coach loved the story and was laughing a lot so that was a good thing!

As we pulled up to the hotel all the bellmen were playing football in the front driveway.  Clearly this is not a normal work pastime for them so it really got a laugh.  What also got their attention was that every bellman was wearing the colors of the football team whose business we were trying to gain.

As we entered the hotel to begin the tour my clients got a big surprise that every staff member they saw was wearing the team’s colors, and on top of that the standard lobby music had been replaced with the football team’s song!  We even had the song playing in the elevator!

When we got to the guestroom, our AV guy had made a slideshow of images of the football team that he had found on the internet, and it was playing on the TV in the room when we walked in.

We had wanted to take them to the restaurant for a meal, but owing to their tight schedule (they were seeing 6 hotels that day) we knew in advance that there wasn’t time.  So instead as we finished our tour and were walking back to the elevator, our Chef had set up a small hot dog and pretzel stand, at which point we made a hot dog and pretzel for the Coach and his assistant to eat on the way to the next hotel. 

Finally as we stepped out of the elevator the entire management team was decked out on the team colors with pompoms in the team colors singing out the team name aka cheerleader style.

We then stepped back into the limo and drove them to their next stop.

Yes we won the piece of business – they signed a 4 year contract!

 

07/03/2009

3 Comments

 

Site Inspection WOW’s

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I think everyone can agree its pretty competitive out there at the moment.  Ok, yes its always pretty competitive but now is tougher than I can ever recall.  We are all looking for ways to give us the edge – right?!

One of the ways that you can really differentiate yourself from your competitors is by wowing the client at the site inspection.   So many of our colleagues have their standard site inspection routine that they roll out for every client.  All of your clients are different – so why the same site inspection for all of them?  This makes no sense.  Do you make the same prospecting phone call to every account?  Of course not – you always tailor your calls to the client – so shouldn’t a site inspection be tailored too?

Remember there is a good chance that your clients are going to site inspections at other hotels too – and they can get pretty darn boring if they are all the same.  Tailoring your site inspection to the client has the following benefits:

1.       It tells your client that you really want their business because of the time and effort you have put into planning the site inspection.

2.       It reminds your client that you understand who they are and what they stand for – which means you will best be able to take care of their group.

3.       Your client will still remember your site inspection when they return to their office.

A great place to start for inspiration is your client’s website.  Maybe they have a theme to their website.  Maybe they have company values that could be helpful to you.  Maybe they have background music…

Involve the rest of your sales team in preparing for the site inspection.  At your next sales meeting tell the team about your upcoming site inspection and then have the team help you brainstorm for 5 minutes on creative ways for wowing your client at the site inspection.

It’s also a great idea to involve the rest of the hotel in your site.  A Chef in uniform will almost always wow a client – as will food samples along the way!  Remember that one of the biggest gripes that clients have is over the check-in experience – so imagine the impact of a Front Desk who actually knows who they are when they arrive at the hotel for the site inspection!

One of the added benefits of involving the rest of the hotel in your site inspection is longer term.  If your  hotel team has been involved in helping secure a piece of group business then they are more likely to go the extra mile to take care of that group – it’s like they have more of a vested interest.  That group is more than just another group at your hotel – to the operations team it’s a group that they helped win.

So, what are some of your site inspection “WOW”s?  Click on the link below to head to the ‘Contact Me’ page and send in your best examples of things you have done to wow at a site inspection.  I will publish a different WOW here each week (and yes you can be anonymous if you want – just state so in your submission).

Submit your WOW’s here: http://www.hotelsalessuperstar.com/contact-me.html