The Right Way To Lose A Piece Of Group Business

“We decided to go with another hotel” said the coach of the sports team.”

That statement can make or break a sales managers day, or even a week. We’ve all heard it before and there is no doubt that we will hear it again. But there is nothing we can do once we have lost a bid to another hotel.

Or is there?

Before I get ahead of myself, let me go over what happened at one of our hotels last week

We got an RFP for a sports team for forty total room nights. What made it attractive was that it was short term demand. Plus this was a team that had stayed with us last year so I thought this lead was in the bag.

We responded quickly with a well thought out proposal

It included a great cover letter, testimonials, and some great images. As soon as we emailed the proposal, we were told that the decision would be made over the weekend and they would let us know on Monday. That’s when I thought that there is something wrong.

Why would they wait to make a decision? They had stayed with us before without incident. The coach remembered us well, and there was no mention of another hotel in the picture. So why the delay? Since there was little I could do at the point, I figured all we could do was wait.

At 9am on Monday, the coach called to delay some more

He wanted to get some more details and to let us know that they would be making a decision later that day. My gut was telling me that there was something wrong, but being a bit of an optimist, my hope carried me forward.

I figured the delay was just them going through the motions of telling other people in the group, including the parents etc. Maybe they just needed to make sure they had enough people in the group to take up all the rooms. Whatever the reason, I thought, we would win this bid.

Unfortunately, winning wasn’t in the cards

At 1 pm, I called the coach and was told they had selected another hotel. Apparently, the team mom had selected another hotel for the parents and the team just decided to stay there as well. When I asked which hotel it was, I was told that he did not know yet.

I was disappointed at how things turned out. I wished him well, confirmed that it was not some service related issue and wished him the best of luck. After all, what else could I do?

After losing a piece of business, despite its size, most group sales managers just move on

They think a loss is a loss. But a loss does not have to be a permanent loss, does it? We still have options. And to demonstrate, here is what I am going to do to get this small group back at my hotel.

I am going to call the coach next week to find out how their stay was

If their stay was great, then I will let him know that I would love to get his business back next year.

If they had a not so pleasant experience at the other hotel, then I can swoop in and let them know that I will be there for them the next time they are in town. And that I will ensure what went wrong with their stay at the other hotel does not happen at ours.

What will this conversation accomplish?

Making this call accomplishes one thing. You are letting them know that you are different from other sales managers. That you followed up despite not winning the business. And I would bet the sales manager at the other hotel doesn’t even bother to follow up.

To ensure that I get this business back, I will add notes to call them in six months to find out when next year’s schedule will be finalized. Because, next year, I am not looking to have any competition at all.

A loss is a loss

And we will all lose our share of business. But that does not mean that we have to give up on it. A loss just means that we did not do enough to win them over. So our goal after we lose a piece of group business is to set up a plan on getting them back.

And that is the right way to lose any group business. Big or small.

What should you do next?

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