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How to sell your empty banquet rooms in three simple steps (by Akram Chahin)

Many hotels and restaurants struggle in selling their empty banquet rooms, especially during soft seasons and weekdays. Hotels and restaurants must learn how to maximize their sales and be efficient in booking their empty space. Based off of my experience during a project in collaboration with the sales team of DoubleTree Hotel, Santa Ana, I have developed a simple three-step process in order to achieve that goal: Analyze, Target, and Execute.

Analyze
Directors and managers of all departments should gather together and develop a marketing plan in which they should discuss the demographics of clients that would be a perfect fit for the hotel’s type of space and environment. They should also discuss how these demographics can achieve the organization’s goals in term of sales and occupancy rates. These targeted segments should be categorized and prioritized. For example; if the hotel is in a middle of a business area, corporate events should be their main target with social events being second, and then others to follow. The team should put together a communication plan in order to reach out to these targets and promote their services.
Target
Next, multiple teams should be put together using a variety of medias in their promotion strategy. Social media, telemarketing, and door-to-door visits are examples of the different types of media that teams could use to connect with their potential clients. A quick google search is a great, affordable, and basic way to gather contact information and create a lead sheet. An introduction gift is a great way to break the ice and promote your products/services. In the case of the DoubleTree hotel, it was a warm, welcoming cookie in a gift bag full of Halloween candy. A promotional flyer was included in the bag with a business card that included direct contact information of the sales manager. The door-to-door promotion strategy not only included an introduction gift, it was also followed by a brief set of in-person questions that were designed to learn about the clients’ needs and to see if the hotel could earn their business. These businesses were specifically chosen from the leads sheet that was created in the previous step.
Execute
Once a potential client has been identified, the sales team must follow up immediately thanking businesses for their time and most importantly use their skills to earn their business and close a deal. The beauty of an empty room is that it could be decorated and set-up in multiple ways catering to different types of events. It is the sales team’s job to plant the picture of the event in clients’ minds so they could imagine it before it even happens. Banquet and catering teams should do their best in throwing the best party/event that the client could get in town. Efforts to develop a lasting relationship and earn their continuous business is a key to booking rooms during the next soft season. It costs 5 to 10 times more to gain a new client than to maintain a current one. Therefore, serious efforts should be put into satisfying the current clients and their guests.
In conclusion, a strategic marketing plan should be put in place that involve analyzing the type of demographics that would be a perfect fit for your products/services. A team effort in approaching the targeted market and finding a way to communicate with them and potentially earn their business is a very crucial step. You have to go earn the business, the business won’t just come to you. Lastly, delivering what was promised and achieving high levels of guest satisfaction will result in repeated business, larger contracts, and increased customer loyalty.
How will you increase banquets/events revenues?
What can you do to earn new customers?
Which step is most important to you in the sales process?

About the Author
Akram is a senior student at Cal Poly Pomona. In his third year, His studies focus on Hospitality Management and Marketing courses. Akram had held many leadership and training positions in his 10 years of hospitality industry experience. Akram’s experience includes working at hotels, resorts, fine and casual dining restaurants, and attractions. Akram is known among his colleges to be personable, professional, and passionate about food and wine. With a level 1 Sommelier degree, Akram enjoys teaching about wine and food pairings, as nothing brings people closer to each other than food and wine. On his free time, Akram enjoys swimming, playing tennis, and racing motorcycles. Akram is expected to graduate in 2017 in hopes to occupy a management position in a luxury resort. Akram’s favorite brands include The Ritz Carlton, Adidas, and Express.

References

Dixon, M. (2010, July/August). Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers. Retrieved April 24, 2016, from https://hbr.org/2010/07/stop-trying-to-delight-your-customers
Fenn, D. (2010, August 31). 10 Ways to Get More Sales From Existing Customers. Retrieved April 24, 2016, from http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/08/get-more-sales-from-existing-customers.html

J.D. Power and Associates (2016, April 07). Hilton HHonors and Marriott Rewards Rank Highest in a Tie in Overall Customer Satisfaction with Hotel Loyalty/Rewards Programs. Retrieved April 24, 2016, from http://www.hotelnewsresource.com/article88694.html

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