Three Strategies To Increase Your Group Sales

Cup waterFill a cup with water and let it sit there for a few days. Don’t drink it even if you are tempted to.

We all know what will happen, right?

Every day, a little bit of water will evaporate. Unless you replace this water every day, it will all be gone over time.

The groups we do business with are the same as the water in the glass.

Up to 25% of the groups we do business with leave us every year

Many move their event to a different city, some no longer remain a group and others just don’t meet yearly (e.g. class reunions). Just like the water in the cup, you need to be able to replace these groups with new business just to do the same amount of business as you did last year.

In order to successfully replace that business, you need to have the right mind set. In this article, we are going to go over three key things you should keep in mind when looking for groups.

  1. Lots of logs in the fire, just not wet logs
  2. Be a silver medalist 97% of the time
  3. Have a system that supports your madness

Let’s start with the first one.

1-Lots of logs in the fire, just not wet logs

Remember the logs in the fireplace principle. The more logs you have, the brighter the flame. In that same vein, you want to cast a wide net when prospecting. Let go of your reservations that a certain group never books at your hotel. Just start wide and try to talk to as many prospects as you can by email, cold calling and any other method that is readily available to you.

While adding new prospects is the goal, remember to only add qualified prospects to your list. Because if you are adding non-qualified prospects (I like to refer to them as wet logs), you’re just wasting resources. You’re better off going after the 98% of the business that no one is going after.

2-Be a silver medalist 98% of the time

2% of groups are actively looking for hotels right now. When you go prospecting, don’t try to find this three percent. If you run into them, great, but don’t actively try to search them out. Instead, look for the 98% of groups that may need your services in the next year and work with them. Most of these groups will already have hotels that they prefer and that’s okay. Because your goal is not to book their business.

Your goal is to be their number two choice

Your goal is to go for silver. Contact them and try to build a relationship so you can create trust. Easy ways to build trust is by giving them advice without selling. Contact them and see if they have any questions about the area. Start by providing information on restaurants, things to do or places to see. Provide advice on saving money when they are in town. Use this and other ways to simply build trust.

Because some day, the hotel they are so very happy with currently, will mess up. Some day their primary hotel will do something to irritate the group or maybe they will be sold out and won’t have availability. And that’s when this planner will call you (and only you) to see if you can accommodate their group. That’s your time to shine and to show why you should be number one.

But you can’t be number one without a system in place.

3-Have a system that supports your madness

You’re never going to be a great salesperson if you don’t have an underlying system that keeps you organized. Think about all the things you have to do when it comes to prospecting. You have to research groups, keep track of who to call, and then record what happened on each conversation. And hey, let’s not forget that you have leads (RFP) to respond to, emails and phone calls to return and contracts to draw up.

Rather than develop your own system, get familiar with a CRM (Customer relationship management) system that will help you keep track of prospects, maintain a phone call log, remind you to follow up and much much more. And don’t let the work CRM intimidate you either. Most CRM’s are quite simple to use. You can get a paid version like Salesforce, or a free one like Zoho CRM. They are both quite effective and will keep you busy for a very long time.

But isn’t prospecting for business just a waste of time?

The problem is that most salespeople wait for the phone to ring. They get enough groups calling and requesting rooms that they don’t really feel the need to prospect. And why should they? They are making their numbers and that’s enough to keep them employed.

But if you’re looking to book groups by the bushel to a point where you are referring as much business as you are getting, then you need to prospect. And you need to prospect with the right system and the right frame of mind. Any other method will lead to mediocrity.

We have gone over a lot so let’s summarize a bit

  • Every hotel, no matter how hard they try, will lose 25% of their group business every year.
  • In order to replace them, sales managers need to prospect for new business every day.
  • The goal of prospecting is to build relationships, and not just sales.
  • In order to keep organized a good salesperson will need a system to track their efforts.

Following the three principles above will yield a pipeline full of leads that we can use to replace the business that evaporates every year.

So go ahead and drink up. Just make sure to refill the cup when you do.

What should you do next?

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