Three Mistakes Hotel Sales Managers Make When Prospecting For Groups

Bike race 7Imagine you’re speeding along on your bike at speeds of up to 30, 40 and then 50 miles per hour in the largest bicycle race in the world, the Cape Argus in Cape Town.

As you pass one competitor after another you can almost taste victory as you begin to realize how far you’ve come.

Now imagine that instead of a standard bicycle, you were on a stationary bike instead

How far would you get in that race? Not very far at all. And that is exactly how far group sales managers get when they make the following three prospecting mistakes.

  • Mistake #1: Making cold calls that are not targeted.
  • Mistake #2: Hunting instead of farming.
  • Mistake #3: Looking like everyone else.

Let’s start with mistake number one.

Mistake #1: Making cold calls that are not targeted

How many of you face this problem? You’re given lead lists along with a quota of how many calls need to be made. As you already know, the problem with these lists is that they are never targeted, rendering them completely useless. We can spend hours calling groups (like bus tours) only to find that they don’t even have our city in their itinerary.

A better way to prospect is to create our own list of targeted leads and call them. Look up associations, churches, companies in the area, sports teams, tournaments and other types of groups that are actually coming to town and start calling these folks. The number of people wanting to talk to us will go up exponentially.

But getting them to talk is only the first part. Now we have to gain their trust and we can only do that by farming

Mistake #2: Hunting instead of farming

There are two methods to prospecting. Hunting and farming.

Hunting is quick and deliberate. Much like a hunter, we go for the kill every time. We make a lot of phone calls targeting people who can book today. The problem with this kind of prospecting is that only 2% of our groups are looking to book at any given point in time. A better method is to go after the 98% of groups not looking to book today. And that is where farming comes into play.

Farmers don’t think short term. Everything they do has a long term perspective to it. Whether it is tilling the land or planting the seeds, their reward for hard work is realized months down the line. We, as sales managers, need to think like farmers. Instead of targeting people that will book today, we should be focusing on building relationships with planners that are looking to bring business at some point in the future.

Our focus should be to help wherever we can, provide resources if they need them, and recommend things that would be in the groups best interest. In short, become a trusted source of information for them and watch as many of these groups start to bring their business over to you.

Why? Because you aren’t making this next mistake of looking like everyone else.

Mistake #3: Looking like everyone else

Can you tell one toothpick from another? They all look the same, don’t they?

Group planners perceive most hotel sales managers that way too.


Because most of us follow the generic cold calling scripts, email the same boring follow ups, and send proposals that look similar to the rest of the hotels. As a result, every hotel looks alike to a group planner.

We need to stand out from everyone else and the surest way is to let our personalities shine through. And yet that is where many of us fail. Working in the sales department has taught us the basics of corporate speak. But we fail at something even more basic.

People do business with people they like. And that is why we need to let our personality shine through. Not only will you be more comfortable in your sales calls, you’ll notice that the prospect will find it easier to talk to you as well.

You may look at the three tips above and say to yourself “I know this already”

There is nothing new there. Many of us have heard all this before. But the question is whether we are acting on it. And if we’re not, then it’s time for us to change.

It’s time to sell that stationary bike and get going somewhere.

What should you do next?

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