So when I was looking at some wallpaper in our neighborhood paint store, I must have looked really lost.
Without having to ask for help, Bill the salesperson walked over and offered to help.
When he realized that his store did not carry the kind of wallpaper that I was looking for, he called his competitor and asked if they did. And then Bill printed the map and directions for me to get there from his store.
Sometimes you’ll have to do what Bill did for me. You’ll have to turn customers away due to a lack of space or availability of rooms. So how do you do it like an absolute pro? And how do you make planners remember you the next time around?
Help them find a suitable hotel for their needs
When turning away business, don’t just send a cold email stating that you cannot accommodate their group. Call them instead and let them know why you cannot take their business and then offer to help them find a suitable hotel.
You know more about your competitors than they do. Chances are that you know the area better than they do. And that qualifies you as the perfect person to help them find the best hotel for their needs.
Go over their needs and make a few recommendations. But don’t stop there. Take one additional step and introduce them to the sales managers at the hotels you recommend.
Doing so will helps increase the trust that the group planner has in you. It shows that you were ready to help for the sake of helping.
But why would I send business to my competitors?
After all, you do compete with them for group, corporate, and transient business as well. Sending the group to your competitor may mean that you will lose them forever. And you may be right.
But you also know that this group is going to book with a hotel somewhere. So you might as well help them and get some benefit out of it.
There are two benefits to this turndown/referral strategy
The most immediate benefit will be that the hotel manager that you referred business to will return the favor in kind as well. Instead of turning away business, he/she will begin referring business back to you, increasing sales at your hotel.
The second benefit will be that you are building a relationship with the group planner. And if you keep in touch, they will refer other groups to you. Moreover, they will keep you in mind the next time they are in need of a hotel for their event.
Building this kind of relationship takes time and lots of effort but the result is that you are no longer viewed as just another hotel sales person. Instead, you will be thought of as an advisor. A go to person to get trusted advice from without having to worry about what your real motivations are.
Just be careful not to abuse the trust
It’s easy to send business to other hotel sales managers that you’re friends with. In fact, you may develop a rapport with many of your peers and that may lead you to exclusively send business to them. And that’s okay so long as the hotel is right for the group.
However, if the hotel you normally refer group business to is not suitable, then help the group find one that is. Remember that your role is to be a trusted advisor to the group planner. The last thing you want to do is jeopardize that trust by referring a hotel that their group will have a bad experience with.
Let’s quickly summarize, shall we
Hotel sales managers turn away business everyday for one reason or another. Rather than just saying no, they should try to help the group find a suitable hotel. Doing so will increase your group business in the form of repeat business and referrals. In addition, it will create a higher level of trust between you and the group planner. And with trust, you can sell a lot of hotel rooms.
And wallpaper too.
What should you do next?
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