And, with that new year, comes new sales goals, new clients and events to cultivate… and even more ways to connect and build relationships with these customers.
1. How do you plan on reeling in more meetings business in 2015?
2. How can your property stand out from your comp set?
3. What should you do differently to connect with meeting planners?
Two words: Help Them.
Give them the relevant content and tools they need to make a decision and orchestrate a great event. Here are ten ways to do just that:
1. Become a Resource for Planners
Meeting planners don’t care about your accolades or new amenities that will not impact their attendees.
Create a meetings and event blog for your property, where you share insider knowledge and tips on your destination, event design, meeting trends, etc. Don’t make the mistake of failed hotels’ meeting blogs, who used their blogs solely to sing their own praises and post press releases about their property. Meeting planners don’t care about your accolades or new amenities that will not impact their attendees. Instead, stick with topics that are relevant to them and useful to planning a meeting in your city.
2. Harness Social Proof and Let Previous Clients Sell For You
Meeting planners will always believe other meeting planners over salespeople. Use that to your advantage. Let your previous clients sell on your behalf by posting their glowing testimonials directly to the meetings section of your Website. In fact, make client quotes or testimonials the first thing a planner will see when they go to your meeting page. Showcase professional photos of previous events held in your property’s venue spaces, instead of shots of empty conference rooms and ballrooms. Add the logos of the companies you (if they will endorse you) and associations that previously booked with you.
3. Fill Up Your Destination Pages
When meeting planners are searching for venue space, they consider the destination first, meeting space second. They may search for ‘things to do in San Diego’ or ‘Miami attractions’ to see what will delight attendees. Get in on their search results by creating robust content on nearby attractions and area activities on your Website. Don’t just simply list what the attractions are, as most big, brand sites do. Instead, write mini descriptions for each attraction, include distance from the hotel and link to their respective Websites. Also, include a destination event calendar.
4. Use LinkedIn to Gather Social Intelligence On Clients
Meeting planners will always believe other meeting planners over salespeople.
A tried-and-true way to impress your clients? Do your research. According to Valarie Sparks, a social sales trainer who specializes in teaching hotel sales teams how to use LinkedIn as a revenue generating tool, every sales person should be thoroughly reading a prospect’s LinkedIn profile before each sales call or visit. Don’t waste your time (or your clients’) asking questions that could easily be answered just by glancing at their profile. This includes: Where did you work before? How long have you been planning meetings?
5. Be a Thought Leader and Trusted Peer on Social Media
When participating on social media, it’s important to establish yourself as an expert resource, while still being ‘one of them.’ Comment on other industry Facebook pages. Retweet what planners are posting on Twitter. Answer questions in LinkedIn meeting and events discussion groups – there are hundreds out there. In fact, have someone on your team contribute to these LinkedIn groups daily, such as CMP’s group or MPI’s Meeting and Event Discussion Group.
Next week, we’ll share the second half of our list of Top 10 Ways to Attract More Meetings in 2015.