Prospecting for clients and booking groups made easy

It is amazing how these “old-time” methods of seeking new prospects for business always seem to work. Here is a good example: A sales director for a mid-scale property located in a state capital called one day to seek advice about getting new business for his property. He mentioned all the reasons for not being able to find more groups: the economy, too much competition, government cutting back on travel expenses (they were heavy in government business), reduction in group meetings, etc.

The advice was pretty simple: go back to your old files and review them, especially the ones that, for whatever reason, were never traced. This sales director was given the advice to test this method. He was to spend just one week, two hours each day, going through and reviewing old files. On each file he was to make telephone contact with the person listed in each who was the contact person at the time of the event. He was to ask appropriate questions to determine what group events were being planned, by whom, when, etc. As prescribed, at the conclusion of that week’s activities, the results were reported for inclusion in this column as follows:

◾ Accounts prospected: 42 (did not quite get to 50), plus three wedding planners;
◾ Past accounts from 2010 to 2013 with good potential;
◾ Past corporate and government meetings mostly;
◾ Past groups re-booked—three (two government; one corporate);
◾ Eighty-one room nights at $8,389. Average daily rate of $103.57 (competitive set for area ADR is $101);
◾ New business booked—three (two SMERF; one corporate);
◾ 215 room nights; $23,285 room revenue; group ADR $108.30;
◾ Catering connected to group meetings booked—$3,300 F&B revenue; $1,700 room rental revenue;
◾ Totals: 296 room nights; $33,674 room revenue; $5,000 catering revenue

The point is that time needs to be set aside, perhaps even on a daily basis, for someone to get back into the old files to do some prospecting. This is not a difficult task. In fact, sales people need to get someone else to do the prospecting so that sales staffers can better spend their time in actual selling to the prospects that are being developed. It would not be a bad idea to allow some front-office personnel to review some of the old files, and make the phone calls to ask pertinent questions to determine if a prospect could be developed.

Using a “Prospect Survey Sheet” is very helpful in making sure that appropriate questions are being asked. The completed survey sheet is then sent over to the sales department for a follow-up call by a sales representative. Hopefully, this way, some “new” business may be developed from some “old” business