Hotel Sales -- The Clients You Want versus The Clients You Get!
By Carol Verret
Friday, 27th May 2011
We all have them, you know those customers that we wish we had 10, 20 (fill in the blanks) more like them! 

If you don't know what the customers you want look like, market segment, demand periods, rate sensitivity,  etc. you will have to keep settling for the inquiries that come in over the phone – even if they are ‘shopping' you and all the other hotels in your market.  You know they are shopping so desperation sets in and you go lower and throw in more value adds to get the business. 

Why?  Because you have no other prospects to work because you don't know where to look for the clients you want!     

There have never been as many prospecting tools as there are now.   The prospecting process has become infinitely easier but also provides nearly an infinite universe of prospects that will become overwhelming, if you don't know exactly the profile of the prospects you are looking for.

The DNA of Prospects You Want.  The DNA model provides a filter for that overwhelming number of potential prospects by market segment, seasonality, etc What do your ideal clients look like? 
  • Geographically.  Where do they come from?  Where does the booking originate? Where do the participants come from?
  • Demographically.  What is the vertical that your best clients represent?  What type of business is it, i.e., sales meeting, family reunion, etc.? What is the title or position of the person that books the business? What is the demographic of the participants?
  • Fiscally.  How rate sensitive are they? How do they pay the bill?
The Power of Search.  Use the DNA as a filter to apply to search on search engines and social media.
  • Google Search and Advanced Search.    Google is still the power house of search and in entering the vertical and the geographic area, a wealth of information appears.  An example would be ‘wind energy companies Seattle' that brings up no fewer than ten such companies displayed on a map.    Advanced Search on Google allows the entry of certain words, the elimination some words in the search and a geographic focus as well.
  • Social Media.  LinkedIn is the planet's biggest B2B prospecting tool.  It goes well beyond the network building and discussion groups.  The ‘search' feature in LinkedIn is its most powerful tool.   "At this moment in 2011, business social media is still in its infancy, but a random job title search on LinkedIn in a defined geographic region will not only net hundreds of new prospects, it will also tell you how these prospects are related to you and who in your network might serve as an introduction – thereby making it a warm call." Says Geoffrey Gitomer in a recent Forbes interview. (Dan Schawabel  interview, April 15, 2011)  There is also an Advanced Search tool in LinkedIn that permits narrowing the search to specific parameters.
Let's pull all of this together with a real life example.  At a recent seminar, a resort identified their shoulder season as October and early November.  Their ideal client was a repeat piece of business from a retail franchise manager who always brought his franchisees together the last weekend of October.    The booking originated within a two and half hour drive distance of the resort.  The franchise manager paid for the meeting expenses while the franchisees paid their own room tax and incidentals.

An Advanced d Google Search for franchise companies in a list of cities within a two hand half hour radius also brought up Entrepreneur Magazine that maintains lists and information on the top franchises in the country.  They narrowed the Franchise companies down to seven within a two and half hour radius form the resort.  The Franchise managers' contact information was readily available on the companies' web sites. 

A search on LinkedIn for the franchise managers revealed two that were connected to the original franchise manager that booked the original piece of business.  They were able to get introductions to these two prospects.   Of the seven franchises they identified, the resort booked five of them.

Without a prospecting system in place, hotel sales people are at the mercy of the telephone inquiry.   The clients you want are modeled after current GOOD clients so it can be reasonably assumed that they will also find value in the product.

So – do you want to wait by the phone or actively look for new prospects?  It's your choice!

Get the EBook The Best of Hotel Sales and Revenue Management Caffeine – two years of tips and trends from the micro blog of the same name.  Find out more info here www.carolverret.net/viral/dec10bookcatch.php

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