Do you have Google Alerts set for all your customer companies? What about companies you want as your customers?
One of the biggest advantages a salesperson has is his/her knowledge of the market and customer base. Knowing everything about your clients is imperative to relationship building. If you know the “latest and greatest” about your client companies, competition, and information about what people are saying about you and your hotel, then you have the advantage. When you use tools such as Google Alerts, you get information fed to you when you want it and how often you want it. It is like having someone read the trades, newspapers, and industry news – and only sending you what you details you want!
For example, yesterday I read an article in the NY Times that noted Boeing was discontinuing production of the DC10. I know that Boeing is a top customer for our Tulsa hotels and I know that Marriott just sent out their RFP to us. According to links within the article, I found out that Boeing relies on companies such as UTC for parts for Boeing aircraft, and UTC is an important customer for our East Hartford hotel. I then followed the media trail and found out that the plant in Tulsa is primarily responsible for 737 aircraft maintenance for American Airlines. (Whew – probably no impact on business and 2018+ production.) I also found out that UTC supplies various parts for other aircraft in addition to the DC10. (Again, whew.)
The key point here is that knowledge is power when it comes to negotiating.
Knowing these little bits about your customer companies – their successes and challenges gives us information for relationship building and information on the market in general. In this case, if the news had been about 737 maintenance and those operations being increased, curtailed, changed or cut back – then making our RFP bid fit that profile would put us in a good negotiating position. It also makes you look pretty “on the ball” when you speak to the customer.
My suggestion is that you set up a variety of Google Alerts for your hotel. Remember, when you set up an alert, band phrases together (i.e. “city, state”, “Name of Hotel City Designation”). If you don’t use quotes to band phrases, then Google Alerts will search for information randomly and you might get something off the wall. Originally, I mistakenly set up my name as a Google Alert without quotes. Instead of getting info on Linda Komornik, results came back in bits and pieces (Linda Johnson, attended a conference in the Komornik precinct of Prague, Czechoslavia with…..). If my Google Alert was set up as “Linda Komornik” then I would get only results where my two names were together. Make sense?
Here is where you set up a Google Alerts and several suggestions:
Your hotel name (i.e. “Courtyard by Marriott Tulsa Central”)
Your city, state (i.e. “Quakertown, PA”)
All your competitive hotels (i.e. “Hampton Inn & Suites, Vineland, NJ”)
Your name (i.e. “Linda Komornik”)
Your GM name (i.e. “Adam Robitaille”)
Your brand (i.e. “Wyndham Garden Inn”)
Your client companies (i.e. “Aetna, East Hartford, CT”)
Client companies who are loyal to your competitors (“Corning, Philadelphia, PA”)
New businesses in your area (“Aldi, Millville, NJ”)
Your city/county economic development committee (“City of Albuquerque Economic Development Department”)
Filter the Google Alerts by media type, frequency (once a day, once a week, as it happens). As you start to see results in your inbox, go back into the Google Alert and fine tune them. I find that “once a day” for our major hotels, and “once a week” for our minor hotels is sufficient.
Most days (I’ll admit) the quality of data generated by my Google Alerts is simply round-filed. Other days, something pops up and is interesting enough to pass on to the property in question. In either case, it takes less than 5 minutes a day to review the results and either add the info to your prospecting list or delete and move on.