The first step in building new business for hotels, resorts, conference centers, etc., is to find leads that could be developed into qualified prospects. After all, a lead is only a suspect—someone or some group that may be in a position to do business with a property, without us being sure of it. Not until we make contact with the lead and ask a series of questions can we determine that. If we find that the lead is indeed in a position to do business with us, then the lead becomes a prospect. Therefore, the idea is to find “suspects” who may be logical sources of businesses, organizations or individuals who may end up being prospects.
One may be surprised to learn that there are a lot of leads sitting right under our noses. All that is needed is to make phone calls, and ask appropriate questions to determine if those leads we have found could be turned into prospects. So what is the secret to finding these leads? The absolute best source for the most productive leads is right there in the sales office. Just take a look at all the old files, whether they are computerized or in folders. There will be many files well over two, three or five years old that have never been traced or looked at in those many years. All it takes is for someone to open the file, get information on the existing contact, make the phone call and start asking appropriate questions.
Here, we are not discussing trying to make sales. All that is needed is to get all the information possible to determine if, in fact, this contact could be a prospect. Remember that a qualified prospect is someone or a group in a position to do business with the property. It would be advisable to use some sort of form on which to write the responses to the specific questions asked. The selling doesn’t really start until another contact is made with the appropriate person who may make the decision of using the property.
How about the idea of getting leads by involving employees from all departments of the property? Many employees belong to a variety of organizations, like civic groups and social clubs; some have a spouse whose employer has company meetings. Sales folks can arrange with department heads to attend one of their staff meetings and deliver a short presentation to explain how to develop leads for new business. Have handouts for the employees reflecting what types of business for which they may provide leads to the sales department.