How Follow Up Emails Help You Retain Group Business (And Blow Away The Competition)

I love tea. And just like other tea lovers, I find myself boiling water several times a day.

And much like everyone else, I sometimes forget that I left the stove on and the water

just boils off leaving me with a hot and empty pot.

Because I was focusing on other tasks, I ended up neglecting my tea.

And that’s the same kind of neglect a small group feels

You see every hotel get its share of big groups and small groups. While it’s the big groups that command the attention of our hotels staff, it’s the small ones (10-20 rooms/night) that make up a large portion of the group sales business.

Typically, a small group will stay overnight and will take up rooms with no meeting space. Most corporate groups, sports teams, and bus tours are exactly like that. They check in individually and without any fanfare that larger groups garner. Then they checkout with even less attention.

And in many cases, we don’t even get a chance to meet them

So how do you know that your small groups are satisfied with their stay? You send the groups’ planner a simple follow up email immediately after checkout.

Sending a follow up email does three things:

  • Tells the group planner that your hotel has responsible staff and that they care enough to ask,
  • Alerts you of any problems the group had and allows you to fix them immediately
  • Increases repeat business and referrals

Let’s start by looking at the first one:

Tells the group planner that your hotel has responsible staff and that they care enough to ask

Sending the email immediately after checkout tells the planner that you are a responsible person that cares. It shows them that you are tracking their group despite the small size and that shows a sense of pride and ownership.

Here is the best part though. Almost none of your competitors are doing this. Most of your competitors have trouble responding to leads, much less send out a follow up email. Sending this email puts you in a very small minority of hotel sales people that care enough to find out if the group had any problems.

And turning those problems into solutions should be your goal

In almost every case, the planner will email you back that everything went okay and that they were happy. However, there will be times when something will have gone wrong.

And the problem does not have to be big to annoy the group. It could be that you added tax to their bill and they are a tax exempt organization. Or it could be a big problem (the internet was down for a two hours).

But now you know the problem and you’re going to solve it, showing that you are proactive. And that leaves a great impression.

An impression that leads to repeat business

Repeat business is the holy grail in any business. And a group that is properly followed up on will come back so long as they were treated well. And that is especially true if your service was substandard the first time around.

Now that you know what a follow up email does, let’s go over how to write one.

Include just one question in your follow up email

When writing a follow up email, you need to be short and to the point. The only reason you’re emailing them is to check if the hotel met their expectations. And that is all you need to get across.

Anything more dilutes the message. Let’s look at an example of a follow up email.

“Dear Mark,

You group [name of group] checked in on Friday and checked out of our hotel on Sunday as planned. After speaking to my staff, I understand that everyone in the group was happy with their stay.

Would you be kind enough to tell me if you heard otherwise?”

That’s all you have to write. End the email with an open ended question so that the next logical step for the group planner is to reply to it. Don’t make the mistake of confusing them with additional details or questions about when they will be back.

Speaking of mistakes, not following up is the biggest one

Every group sales manager knows that they should follow up. And yet, most do not. And it’s not because they are lazy or ineffective. They just have not made it part of their daily routine.

The trick is to set up a system or a routine which requires you to look at who has checked out so you can send a follow up note. And if that means you have to set up a reminder in your CRM software or an alarm on your phone, just get it done.

Because neglected groups act just like people

If they are unhappy, they won’t always complain. They’ll just take their business elsewhere. And your hard won group business will slowly disappear.

Just like the water in my teapot.

What should you do next?

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