How Quickly Can You Fix a Leaky Pipe?

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  • Brad Benton
    Post count: 148

    Are you converting all of your leads into definite business?  That would be nice – but more likely you have plenty of leads that you respond to, only to never hear from them again…  (If you are converting ALL your leads then I want to know what your secret is!)

    Remember the days when an RFP would come through on the fax machine, the lead coordinator would log the lead and then assign it to a Sales Manager who would then put together a proposal and mail it out to the prospective client?  That procedure has changed somewhat with the advent of technology but the principle is still very similar (side note:  if that is still your exact procedure then you definitely need to read on!!!)

    There is a range of mind-blowing statistics being floated around the industry but the underlying theme behind all of them is that increasingly, small to medium sized group business is booking with the first hotel to respond.  Some statistics state that up to 75% of group business is booking with the first responder!

    Translate this to mean that quite simply if you are not the first responder then you ARE losing business!

    To illustrate my point let’s talk about plumbers.  Imagine you leave work this afternoon and go home to find that you have a leaky pipe in your bathroom and you have water all over the floor.  Your initial reaction is “I just need someone to get here fast and fix this so I can instead focus on preparing my dinner” – or something to that effect.  If you are like me you are not interested in spending all night researching all the different plumbers in town – you just want someone to fix the pipe, fast!  So you pick up the phone directory and call the first plumber that catches your eye.  Imagine you get that plumber’s voicemail – what do you do?  That’s right, you probably hang up and keep calling plumbers until you get a hold of someone who is able to come and fix the pipe at a reasonable price in a reasonable amount of time.

    Many groups are a lot like leaky pipes!

    Remember that as we have discussed before, a significant number of groups are not booked by professional meeting planners.  Instead they are booked by Personal Assistants, Admin staff, Managers, Trainers etc.  For these people booking groups is not their primary work responsibility.  Quite simply they have other more important tasks to get back to.  Just like you wanted to get the pipe fixed with the least amount of work on your part (so you can cook dinner instead) – they too want to get the group booked and that task crossed of their to-do list as quickly as possible.

    So as you can see if you are the first responder (with a proposal that meets their requirements) the odds are stacked heavily in your favor to win that piece of business!

    So what can you do to make sure you are being the first responder?
    1.   Reevaluate your lead assignment procedures.  You need to look closely at your processes to see if anyone (or thing) is slowing down the lead from getting into the hands of the Sales Manager that will respond.  Remove the middle-man if possible. 
    2.   Can you better utilize your existing technology to improve the lead assignment process?  Will new (or additional) technology help? 
    3.   Set a response time target and then over time gradually reduce this time.  Some brands already have response time targets in place, but can you do better than the brand-standard? 
    4.   How do you handle leads when the assigned Sales Manager is away from their desk?  Can those leads be handled by someone else so as to ensure a faster response? 
    5.   Review your procedure for quoting rates and reviewing business.  Can you set up free-sell guidelines so Sales Managers are not forced to wait for a Business Review meeting before sending a proposal? 
    6.   How do you respond to telephone leads?  Is it possible to streamline your processes so that a client can actually be quoted a rate and space availability over the phone?  Don’t let them hang up the phone until they have a verbal quote (just like a car salesman hates to let a potential customer leave the lot). 
    7.   Examine your proposal process.  Is there a faster way for you to respond?  Plenty of technologies are available to assist with this.  Is a full-blown proposal necessary for all responses?

    I am going to be talking about the above points in more detail in future articles – but one thing I can guarantee you is that right now there are hotels in your competitive set that ARE responding to leads faster than you.  You know that lead that is sitting in your inbox?  Maybe your competitors have already begun responding to that lead, whereas you chose to read this article instead – so get back to your RFP’s!

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