This could be something like milk, oil for a lawn mower, or any other item.
It this sounds familiar, then you’re not alone. In fact, we do this at work too when we are prospecting for new business.
Many of us will go out looking for new business every week but we fail to realize that there is a lot of leads that are sitting in plain sight right.
Here are three sources of group leads that you should look into:
- Source #1: The credit card authorization binder
- Source #2: Tax exempt forms
- Source #3: Reservations agents
So let’s start by talking about the first one
Source #1: The credit card authorization binder
Every hotel has a credit card authorization binder. It’s where we hold forms that allow us to charge a corporate card that will not be present at check-in. This form usually has the name, address, and telephone number of the travel coordinator at a corporation that sends it’s employees to hotels.
Call this person and find out how you can get more of their business. Ask about any trainings, meetings, or conferences they may be planning and see if you can be the host hotel. And if you can’t be the host hotel, maybe you can be the overflow hotel for now. Finally, ask them if your hotel is the only one they use in your city. If not, find out what it would take to get all of their business.
Chances are that you have hundreds of these forms so you’ve got a lot dialing to do. But don’t start just yet. We’ve got to go over the next source of unconventional group leads, the tax exempt form.
Source #2: Tax exempt forms
Every city and state employee that stays at your hotel brings a tax exempt form that they turn in upon arrival at the hotel. Each morning, make it a point to go to the front desk, grab all the tax exempt forms from last night and call their room number to see if they could answer a question or two. If you don’t feel comfortable bothering them, then have the front desk alert you when they are checking out.
Make it a point to find out how they decide which hotel to stay at, who arranges their travel and if they have any meetings or conferences coming up. While you may not hit gold every time, you won’t believe how many more contacts you’ll end up making in government and non-profit organizations. Finally, the last and absolutely most underutilized source of group leads are your reservation agents themselves.
Source #3: Front desk agents
Front desk agents are one of the most underutilized sources of group leads. You would not believe the amount of information people give them, some of which can be used to get more groups.
For example, a front desk agent at one of our hotels was taking a reservation when the guest on the other line volunteered the following information. “Yeah, we are coming up for a soccer tournament and there is a bunch of us traveling so we’re gonna need some rooms”. Having been trained by the sales department, he asked if he had a group rate at our hotel which they did not..
He took the reservation, and passed along the tournament information to our sales manager. She called the teams travel coordinator and had a contract signed the following day before noon. And this only happened because the front desk agent was alert and was trained.
How many opportunities like this arise everyday at our hotels, but are missed? Why not spend an afternoon training our front desk agents on the key things they should be looking out for to help increase group sales. Add a small incentive and watch the leads flood in.
The three sources of group leads above will provide ample prospecting opportunities for the enterprising salesperson.
But do these opportunities result in any incremental business or are they just a waste of time
Everything is a waste of time in the right hands. Much like life, these leads are what you make of them. So if you make a sales call and the person says that they don’t do corporate business, you can respond with a “goodbye” or you could take a leap and say “Is there anyone else in your department that manages meetings?”.
That is the difference between whether these leads are a waste of time or a prospecting goldmine.
Finally, let’s just do a quick summary
The credit card authorization binder, tax exempt forms, and our reservation agents are just three kinds that are very underutilized group lead sources at most hotels. Utilizing them will yield a number of prospects that will be happy to do business with you since they already utilize your hotel. All you have to do is call and ask.
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.