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3 Steps To Increase Groups Sales This Shoulder Season [Free Tools Included]

Sep 27th, 2022 in ,

If this is your first time experiencing shoulder season, welcome! 

Shoulder season is typically the time between the chaos of summer and the pandemonium of winter holidays. For a lot of hotel sales teams this is a heavy budget season and months of explaining to management that the numbers will pick up soon.

Quick question – why wait?

Instead of waiting for calls to come in, why not get proactive and start hunting for business today? Here are a couple of quick and free tips to help get that journey started immediately – no budget approval needed!

 

Step 1: Organize your contacts!

This is going to be like pulling a bandaid for some. 

First question, do you have a list of contacts somewhere (either in a CRM, spreadsheet or on paper)? If the answer is yes, excellent you can skip the next part in italics. If it’s a no – you’re going to need to take a quick step back to move forward (trust us, it will help).

 

If you don’t currently have any listing or system for storing key contact information, let’s get started. Choose a program you have access to – like excel or Google Sheets. (We prefer Google Sheets as you can easily share and collaborate with your team). 

Now go through and find your key bookings for the last 3 years from the fall season and add the key contacts you had for those bookings to your spreadsheet. Since you don’t have a list somewhere, this may mean going through emails, your PMS, calendars or guests notes from that time period. 

Fill in the Company Name, Contact Name, their job title, email and phone number and when they stayed at the hotel. Add one more column that asks “Do they still work here?” If you are not great with creating spreadsheets, here’s a free copy you can download – access contact sheet template

Once you’ve done this, you can go ahead and join the rest of the team.

 

With your list of contacts, try to find and make a list of those who had bookings in the past 3 years during shoulder seasons. For each of those contacts, find them on LinkedIn and see if they are still at that company. If they have moved, add their new company and title to your list. The new company can become another prospect as you now have a connection there. Also, make sure to find the person who now has their role at their last company – now you have two prospects for more business!

If you don’t have their new email – try using a free tool like Hunter.io. This will give you a number of searches each month to find emails directly from their website!

Go through until you have a list of 20 to 25 updated contacts that you can reach out to. Then on to the next step!

 

Step 2: Outreach, outreach, outreach

It’s amazing how often routine follow up is skipped – either because sales teams think it won’t do anything or because they think the contact will re-book anyways. Regular follow-up can be extremely beneficial – especially when you’re dealing with competitive markets in shoulder season. Victory – or at least the booking – often goes to those who are top of mind and making the effort to be seen.

So let’s get in front of people! 

The second step is outreach. Reconnecting, for most people, can be intimidating and overwhelming. However, it helps to look at this similar to ‘writer’s-block’: Starting the process is scary, but once you get into the swing of things, it becomes easier and easier!

It’s time to connect! Typically starting with email is preferable, but feel free to try all sorts of ways to engage including phone calls or LinkedIn messages.

We’re big fans of working smart. If you plan to reach out to 25 or more people, individually sending emails or messages can quickly become a large undertaking! Instead of crafting each email, why not spend time making a single masterpiece and templating it? Here’s a step by step article on how to do this in Gmail (again, free to use!). For Outlook, you can find the steps here.

If you’re feeling uninspired or can’t seem to find the right words, try searching online for effective subject lines. Again, we want this to be a quick and easy process!

Typically it can take a couple of emails or touch points to get in contact with someone, so make sure you’re ready to continue sending emails or even calling. With patience and persistence – it will happen!

 

Step 3: Make meeting with your customers easier

You’ve finally made contact with your past customers or even a couple of new ones. Now you want to find the perfect time to connect. Sounds easy right? Sometimes it is, but often times it seems like a juggling act of schedules being thrown back and forth.

Why not make things streamlined for everyone and allow the customer to find the best time that works for them? While keeping your calendar in mind, of course!

Enter Calendly! This tool will allow you to have your availability easily presented to the customer and allow them to find the time that works best for them. The best part – it can automatically be set up to read your calendar and know your existing schedule. Additionally, you can set rules for how close meetings can be together, insert meeting information and links beforehand. 

 

Next Steps

If you’ve done all this – congratulations, you are ready to prospect! By making the most of the tools available you will find that your efforts are scalable. Once you’ve found the winning formula of how to connect and close business, you can make a repeatable system meaning less work for more wins. Good-luck, happy hunting!

If you want to see how a little budget can help optimize and bring these types of pieces together – chat with our team and ask about Event Temple where you can make customer outreach even easier!

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