You Never Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression

The phrase isn’t just for dandruff commercials anymore….. it’s all about you, your image and how you represent your hotel! You are the reflection of your product, team and reputation. So what are you doing and how can you stand out from the crowd of hotels in your market?

Being responsive is paramount. We know you get oodles of leads during the course of a day/week/month. So how do you determine which ones you should respond to first, which ones get individual and detailed responses, and which ones get a generic response?

First off – you must be organized and be able to to look at all the leads and put them in categories. I recently read an article that stated,

“…. Many hotel salespeople seem to be handling the challenge of too many leads coming in electronically by trying to respond to them all with equal attention. When leads bottle-neck during periods of peak demand, the end result is slower response times and generic proposals. This levels the “playing field” for all the hotels contacted and does not allow any particular hotel to stand out from its competitors….. “

Ain’t that the truth!

The article further suggested that we pull the leads and categorize (“read the lead”) before you send any responses. Much like a waiter reads a new table in their section – you must look at the following criteria of all your incoming leads:

  • What is the source of the lead? Is it a direct inquiry? If not, which third party did it come from? Was it through a listing service? A convention & visitors bureau or tourism office?
  • Are their requested dates during periods of high, moderate or low demand? Do they indicate flexibility?
  • What special requests or comments have they mentioned? Many of those who email their inquiries to the sales@yourhotel.com address include in-depth details about their plans that can be used to personalize the response.
  • Evaluate the overall revenue opportunity of the meeting or event.

Once you have sorted and prioritized, you can then spend more time responding to those that are truly the best fit and hottest leads for their hotel. If necessary, others can get a more generic, template response.

So how are you going to respond and what is going to make your response stand out in the plethora of emails, or stacks of mail that the end user receives? Well that is the $64,000 question! This is where your property identity (that I have been harping on for months and months) takes effect….. CRAFT YOUR RESPONSE TO FIT YOUR IDENTITY! Use your marketing phrases and images, use your personality, and most of all be creative (not cutesy, cartoony, or silly) – develop your image to be a reflection of your property identity.

Here are some tips you might want to consider:

  • Respond promptly to all inquiries, even those for which you have no inventory or otherwise cannot meet their specifications. Plans change as meeting details are finalized, and many planners are involved with multiple meetings and thus could be a future prospect.
  • Pick up the phone! Never respond to a RFP with only an electronic form of communication. Even if you only get through to voicemail, an energetic, friendly and engaging voicemail message will start to make your proposal rise up in the stack. For those specifically indicating they do not want to be called, send a personalized letter or card by standard mail.
  • Speaking of the phone, always call to verify that the recipient received the email proposal or contract. With so many of us business travelers reading email on various devices, it is easy for something to get deleted or overlooked.
  • Send a personal hand-written note. Rather than just sending emails that say “Just checking to see if you reached a decision,” stand out by using the good old fashioned postal service. A handwritten note really means something these days. When was the last time you received one?
  • Sending a link to property information pages on a website is not relationship selling and does not show you know your product. Nor does it provide any sense of pride and ownership of what you are representing. Instead, provide personalized details along with the link.
  • Sending a link to an online concierge service does not demonstrate your knowledge of the area and is not relationship selling. Instead, assist with needs-based suggestions and recommendations.
  • Use “high tech” resources to go “old school.” Rather than just sending an email, use your webcam to record a short video message saying how much you want their business. Or create a fun flash movie using iMovie or Windows Movie Maker.
  • Use your sales lead tracking system diligently. With so many RFP’s coming at us these days, it is impossible to organize tasks using folders in your email server. Always systematically enter the next follow-up action step into your tracking system so that it appears on your daily task list (even if you use a manual system).
  • Research the organization online prior to responding so that you can personalize the response.

Happy Impressioning!

Linda

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