Secrets for Unlocking the Hidden Business Potential of Every Client
By John Manderfeld President, Marin Management Inc. | November 09, 2014
Sometimes it's right under your nose: hundreds, perhaps thousands, of additional room nights for your hotel, not from a previously unknown prospect, but from an existing client. It happens over and over: a hotel sales team happily enjoys the repeat business of a major corporate or government account while never considering that they have barely scratched the surface on the account's potential. Countless times I have discovered that a hotel's best clients are also the best clients of one, sometimes several, of the hotel's competitors. So, I learned that my hotel was not getting as much of my best account's business as I had previously believed.
One of the least discussed realities of selling for hotels is that every prospect with more than 100 employees or so has numerous departments and travel decision-makers. Getting business from as many of those departments and decision-makers as possible is often called "account saturation". Too often we work so hard to find one or two people at a major organization who will listen to our sales pitch and sign up as new customers and then think that we are done with that account for awhile, because we erroneously believe that we have captured all of the client's business. Rarely is that ever true.
Sometimes this illusion is actually promoted by our clients. Many times I have been told by a client that he or she is the organization's sole travel and meeting planner only to later learn that my contact had embellished a little about his or her role. Here is one example:
My company operated a full-service hotel just a couple miles from a major defense contractor with about 16,000 local employees. The sales team was quite thorough in their canvassing for new accounts. One day I asked to review the file on the defense contractor, which was already our largest account.
I was surprised to see that every sales call, every letter and every proposal had gone to the same person at this company. I was told that she was the only person at the company who booked hotel rooms, meetings and banquets. I asked how that was possible for a company generating about 30,000 room nights per year; and I wondered how our sales team believed that she was the only decision-maker for such a large company.
The answer: "Because she told us so." Of course, a little research showed this was not true. Thousands of hotel stays each year were being booked by others with this company who were invisible to our sales team; and these valuable room nights were going to our competitors. In fact, the people who made those reservations knew very little about our hotel's features, services and rates, because they had be left out of our sales process. What a shame!