Are You As Anonymous As Cicada 3301?

Cicada-3301Starting 2011, a mysterious organization started sending a series of what seemed like unsolvable puzzles to the finest codebreakers in the world.

Much like a string of beads, one puzzle just lead to another more complex one.

A sort of scavenger hunt that has taken some of the most brilliant minds across not only the online world, but offline as well.

So far, the hunt has required knowledge of archaic subjects that range from a tuneless poem to a the understanding of mayan numerology.

One clue was even posted on a lamp post in Hawaii.

And as of this writing (2013), no one has figured out what the challenge known as Cicada 3301 is or who the people behind it are.They have chosen to remain anonymous, giving them an almost mythic stature.

While being anonymous works in the world of mystery, it has the exact opposite effect in the world of sales.

Because in sales, being anonymous makes us forgettable

While we don’t realize it, many of us have become anonymous to our customers at the hotel. With the advent of email, file sharing, and online forms, it’s possible to book groups and negotiate corporate rates without ever seeing the customer.

Many of these smaller groups can check in and check out without ever meeting the salesperson they worked with. And that makes us forgettable in the eyes of the customer. And forgettable is sinful in sales. It’s one of the quickest ways to lose business.

While many of us spend lots of time with bigger groups that require lots of attention, we tend to forget about smaller room blocks, trainings, and reunions. We forget to say hello, or shake their hands to say thank you for their business. We forget to ensure that they have a face to associate our names with. And that makes us just as anonymous as Cicada 3301.

So why do we become anonymous

Because we are too busy. Its not that we are lazy but that we are too preoccupied with demands on our time. We have reports to finish, calls to respond to, prospect for new business etc. And that leaves little precious time to worry about every group that goes through our hotel.

So we forget to say hi to that team of five staying at our hotel for an off site corporate training.

And we don’t bother to congratulate the bride that has a room block at our hotel. We don’t even leave a small gift or even a letter saying thank you.

And this is where the problem lies

This is where a significant number of us lose groups. While one small group seems insignificant, as a whole they make up a huge portion of our business. And many of them owe no allegiance to us if the have never even seen us. They will judge us not by our relationship, but by our price. Next year, they will move onto any other hotel that offers them free amenity XYZ to move their business.

Rather than worrying about responding to a tweet or a facebook message, we need to prioritize ourselves and figure out what is important. These groups are the very people that put food on our plate. And we cannot remain anonymous to them

Because remaining anonymous means that the customer has no sense of attachment to us

We are just another nameless faceless organization, exactly what they are used to with other companies. Its not that they are upset with us, it’s just par for the course. They expect us to treat them like a number and when they are treated as one, there is no surprise on their end. Because they already have very low expectations of us.

We need to stop meeting these low expectations

What we need to do is start exceeding them. We need to stop being anonymous and get in front of these customers so they know who we are.

And the easiest way is to meet them when they are at the hotel. Let the front desk know when the group is checking in so you can go down and personally greet them. It doesn’t take much on our part to do this, but so few of us are in the habit of doing it.

Greeting the planner at check-in is comforting to them

They can put a face to your name, and they are immediately at ease knowing that if there are any complications, you are there to help them solve it. Plus, you can use this time to get to know them better, and continue to build that relationship.

And if you just can’t welcome them because they are checking in really late or on a weekend etc. then at least leave them some flowers, a card, or something that will surprise them. Something that will make you more memorable than you are now.

But just saying hello or leaving a card will not make you memorable

Showing your face, chatting for a little, and making sure their stay is okay is just the start. If you expect to be top of mind the next time they come to town, you’ll have to continue to nurture the relationship over the ensuing months. Things you can do are:

  • Send them emails with information that may be relevant to their group.
  • Make them aware of any closures that may affect their next meeting,
  • Send them a hand written christmas card,
  • Update them on any planned improvements,
  • Ask for their opinion on what your hotel can do better
  • Ask for a referral
  • Send a stack of post it notes that say “Thank you for your business… (Your name XYZ Hotel)”

Doing some of the above will help forge relationships that are far deeper

Group planners will feel a sense of attachment to us and to our hotel. While something like a little card will not make you a superstar in their eyes, it will help remove that feeling that they are just a number, making it less likely that they will move to your competitors hotel.

Moreover, this constant communications will keep you top of mind. When they are ready to book their next event, the question will not be whether they should be looking at hotels, it will be whether you have the availability.

Let’s summarize, shall we

Remaining anonymous is a surefire way to lose groups at your hotel. And yet, too many of us remain anonymous to groups that come to our hotel. By doing simple little things like saying hello, having a welcome gift, and staying in touch, we will be far more memorable that we are now. And that is going to help us retain a larger portion of our existing groups.

And if we insist on being anonymous, then let’s replace our name on group contracts with “Cicada 3301” 🙂

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