In 1971 Dennis Ryan, a social scientist recruited participants for an “Art Appreciation Experiment.”
Except that wasn’t the real experiment.
During the “Art Appreciation Experiment” Dr. Ryan had his assistant give half of the participants a free soda.
At the close of the experiment the assistant asked both groups if they would buy some raffle tickets. Those who received the free soda bought more tickets, despite the fact that they never asked for the soda, thus proving Dr. Ryan’s theory of reciprocity.
So how can reciprocity help us increase group sales at our hotels?
We all have groups that travel throughout the state. There are many associations, church groups, sports teams, and other group types that travel to different cities every year.
So when a group tells you that they will not be returning next year because they are going to so and so city, don’t just wish them the best and tell them to call you when they come back to you city.
Use the concept of reciprocity instead
In this case, since you know that the group is moving to another city, why not ask them where they are going and then do some research to help find suitable hotels. Once you have a list of hotels, call the sales managers at each one to provide introductions to the group planner. This will give the hotels a head start on getting the booking.
Doing this has two advantages
The first advantage is that you will be helping the group find a hotel that is perfect for them. While they may not be ready to book right away, providing them a list of contacts at other hotels will be much appreciated.
The second advantage is that you will build a relationship with the hotel sales managers that you refer business to. Over the course of a year, you’ll refer dozens of groups to hotels in neighboring cities and you’ll be building reciprocal relationships with all of them.
Before you know it, many of these hotel sales managers will respond in kind. When they have a group that is coming to your city, they will return the favor. And you’ll start to get leads throughout the year from your reciprocal network of hotels.
But make sure you don’t just pick any hotel to refer business to
The mistake many of us make when employing this strategy is that they try to refer business to just their brand of hotels. So a Best Western in San Jose, CA may look to refer to another Best Western in San Francisco, CA. But that can’t be the only brand of hotel that you should restrict yourself to.
First look at the groups needs and see if the hotel you want to refer fits their needs. Be selective as if you were booking your own group. And if the hotels in your brand are not the right fit, then select a different hotel. Just make sure that you place the groups interests above anyone else’s.
And when you do, both the hotel and the group will be happy
You will have helped the group find a suitable place without the hassle of having to do any work. And the hotel sales managers will be happy to have gotten a referral. As a result, they will funnel group business back towards you.
So the next time you have a group leaving your city for another one, remember the reciprocity principle. It will help you sell more rooms.
And maybe a raffle ticket or two.
What should you do next?
Subscribe to our group sales newsletter below (Yes, that’s a big hint!). you’ll get articles like this delivered right to your inbox every week.