Surely by now I have espoused the value of logging all turn-down business enough. So now let’s do a bit of a reality check here – it’s time to stop pretending that all the turn-downs are being logged. We all know that Sales Managers HATE logging automatic turn-downs. It gets them no closer to making their numbers for the quarter. Sales Managers tell everyone they are logging all their turn-downs – but we all know that a certain proportion make their way into the trash can when no-one is looking!
So I propose the following – let’s have a Turn-Downs amnesty! I am not talking about giving all turn-downs a path to citizenship or any of the other political images that the word amnesty seems to conjure up these days (!) – I am simply suggesting that every sales office have an “Amnesty Turn-Downs” tray.
Still suggest to your whole sales team that they should be entering their turn-downs, but make it very clear that if they are too busy to enter them then they are free to drop them off in the Amnesty Turn-Downs tray for entry at a later date. There should be no penalties or judgment for those who drop their turn-downs in the tray – it should be guilt-free!
The questions regarding who ends up entering the turn downs and when are trivial – we all know there is down-time at some point – at which time the whole team can pitch in to get through the tray of turn-downs.
At least this way we KNOW that all the turn-downs are being logged – rather than PRETENDING that they are!
Best practices for database management are great – but only when people follow them. We have all been guilty at times in the past of declaring that we were too busy to log everything in the database. We always knew it was best practice to enter everything – but while the leads just continued to rain down on us it was easy to turn a blind eye to these best practices.
Do you log EVERY lead?
Do you log EVERY turn-down?
Do you log EVERY phone call/email/appointment?
We always know that we should be logging all of the above, but it’s so easy when we are busy to fall into the trap of not doing so. Logging all your turn-downs, leads and activities really gets you no closer to making your revenue goals for this month – which is precisely why so many of us tend to use the excuse that we are too busy to do so. Hotel sales teams that did log this in the past are certainly reaping the rewards of that diligence now – they have a lovely database just full of potential prospects to call on.
So if you weren’t logging everything before – now is certainly the time to start! Surely we can’t use the excuse that we are too busy now! The tough times like now really are the best time to go back to basics and redeploy the rule that “If its not in <insert name of your sales system here>, it didn’t happen”.
You know the leads - we all get them.... The leads that you take one look at and know immediately that it’s not the right lead for your hotel. Often they are CVB leads, many times they are from websites like StarCite. Maybe they are asking for dates that you don't have available. Maybe they are asking for rates well below what you can quote. Maybe they are asking for ocean views when you are landlocked...
We all get these leads - so what to do with them? I know of plenty of Sales Managers that send those 'Immediate Turn-Downs' straight to the trash. As far as I am concerned let them keep doing that!
My first opinion on this matter is that EVERY lead should be responded to. Sure, responding takes time and may seem like a pointless exercise when you are unable to quote what the client is looking for. But how do you know their dates aren't flexible unless you ask? How do you know that they aren't willing to adjust their program to meet your hotel specifications? And here is the big one: HOW DO YOU KNOW THEY DON'T HAVE OTHER POTENTIAL BOOKINGS UP THEIR SLEEVE? The key here is you have to respond to every lead. Maybe it’s just a phone call or email, or maybe it’s a full proposal. I personally think a phone call or email is the best approach so that at least you get your hotel's name in front of the client.
I also just think it is polite to respond to every lead. Even if it is to an organization that shows absolutely no potential at all to book business with you, it is just good PR to always respond. Seems silly to have to say this, but there are a lot of sales people out there that are only responding to the leads they want... Now I just think that is RUDE!
Ponder this - that lead may not seem worth responding to, but how do you know that the meeting planner hasn't just gotten engaged? Any contact has potential for business of some sort....
So now onto the contentious issue of logging those automatic turn-downs....
My fellow sales colleagues HATE this part of their job. Believe it or not, there are some hotels out there that do not log their Turn Downs at all... I bet they wish they had now that they economy has taken a nosedive!!!
Sales people hate this because it gets us no closer to making our numbers for this quarter. But I tell you what - if you do get into the habit of doing this, it will absolutely pay off in the long-run. You absolutely should create a prospect booking (which you then Turn Down) for every lead that comes in. At a bare minimum that booking should have the arrival and departure dates, room block requirements, the rate they requested (or in the absence of that, the rate you would have quoted had you had availability), major events with average check revenue, contact details and the lost business reason.
You need all this information for the following year. If the reason you turned down the business was because you were already sold out then you need this information so that you can have an idea whether the lost business would have been better for your hotel than the business you originally booked. That being the case, now you have an opportunity to call on those bookings next year and book them before someone else re-books the crappy group!!!
Logging lost business is also the best way of showing the business you could have booked if it weren't for XYZ reason. I know I sure want this as backup for the months I don't make my numbers (which for the record is VERY rare!). It’s also the best way for you to force the change that you need to book more. For example if you keep turning down leads because your hotel doesn't have enough Double Double guestrooms, make sure that is a Lost Business Reason in your sales system, so that then you can put that is the reason you are turning down the business. Then over a year, you will be able to run a report showing how much business was lost because you don't have enough Double Doubles. No hotel owner will just fork over money to switch King bedded rooms with Double Doubles - but when they can see how much extra revenue you can bring in once the switch is made then they are more inclined to spend that money - which in turn helps you make your numbers - and make bonus!!!
I guess it all just requires thinking longer term than just this quarter...