Hotel banquet sales can be a pain in the … – They can require customization, ludicrous requests and be labour intensive. On the flip side – they’re an integral part of your business’ profitability. Whether you’re a limited service hotel or a full service hotel, there are different strategies that you can implement to secure more banquet business and increase your total sales.
5 WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR HOTEL BANQUET SALES
1 – Acquire Qualified Leads
Increasing your hotel banquet sales starts with acquiring highly qualified leads. A qualified lead for hotel banquet sales is typically a prospect whose event needs, budget, size, and timing all are possible at your property. If you’re a medium-sized hotel with 1 meeting space that can fit 150 people theatre style, an RFP for a 500 person conference is not a qualified lead. Gathering leads that are outside of your property’s capabilities, can take away precious time from other opportunities that would be the perfect fit for your business.
You don’t need this unnecessary noise. But how do you ensure you’re getting the right leads to your inbox? Here are a few tips and tricks to strengthen the quality of your prospective clients.
– Have information readily available for planners on your website and social media.
This can include images or videos of your spaces, floor plans with capacity, potential menus with pricing, past events you’ve hosted, and client testimonials. Make sure to include a variety of options on your website or social media. You want to avoid siloing yourself into one specific size and type of event.
– Prospect in real-time either via the phone or in-person whenever possible.
Once you’ve received a potential lead or an RFP – reach out to your contact as soon as possible. Research shows that 78% of companies book with the first company that responds to them. This will allow you to get a better understanding of the clients needs without the pain of going back and forth on email and having some sort of miscommunication during the correspondence.
2 – Proper Pipeline Management
Once you’ve developed a system to filter out unqualified leads, you need a way to manage those leads. One of the most effective strategies for lead management is a pipeline management tool. By using a pipeline, you will have a visual overview of your overall sales cycle – you can see where each potential booking is in the sales process, the status of the booking, and the estimated revenue of the booking.
In order to effectively manage your sales, you need to have a formally defined sales process which will be reflected in the stages of your pipeline. Each stage should represent a different step in the buyer’s journey. A simple review of your sales pipeline will give you an indication of your sales health, your areas of opportunity, and your overall profitability and growth as a hotel. Using a pipeline to manage all your leads will streamline your sales process and, if utilized properly, will ultimately lead to more closed deals – #WINNING!
3 – Up-sell with Food & Beverage Offerings
There are many different ways to increase your average banquet check at your property. One of the most effective strategies is to use your food and beverage services to increase bill size. In-house food and beverage typically represents approximately 25% of total revenue and has an average profit margin of approximately 29%. With these numbers, it only makes sense to leverage your food and beverage service to increase your hotel banquet sales.
Full Service Hotels
If you’re a full-service hotel, you have an in-house food and beverage team. You are fully equipped to offer a variety of food options to increase your f&b revenue. Here are a couple of ideas that are easy to implement:
– Have a menu with a variety of options for planners to choose from. You’re going to be dealing with a variety of budgets and it’s important that you have food and beverage options that work for a meeting or event of any size. We recommend having a wide range of
– Offer creative meal options like meal stations, snacks, and ‘build your own’ bars. In today’s world, hotel’s need to find a way to cater to everyone’s dietary needs without breaking the bank. Not only do meal options provide flexibility for planners who may not know everyone’s dietary preferences, it also allows alleviates stress for planners hosting ticketed events who may not know the number of attendees until later in the event planning process.
– Provide a local dining experience. Planners and attendees want an authentic, local experience especially if they are travelling for the event. One of the best ways to do that is by offering menu options that are hyper local to your property’s geographical location. If you’re in Portland, Oregon, you might want to offer a local craft beer tasting for a networking event or, if you’re in Boston, Massachusetts, you may want to offer lobster rolls and clam chowder for the lunch break. Planners are more likely to pay for these experiences as they create a more memorable event for attendees.
Limited Service Hotels
Limited service hotels by definition don’t have a food and beverage department at their property. This doesn’t mean that as a limited service hotel you can’t add food and beverage options for meetings and events at your hotel.
– Have grab and go options available in your lobby. When attendees or guests are arriving at the event, they will always walk through the lobby. Have packaged snacks, to go coffee, juices and pastries on display. They’re more likely to grab something right in front of them rather than leave the premises in search of a cafe.
– Offer packaged meals like sandwiches and salads as options for lunch break. You can still have a food and beverage menu without having a full-service kitchen. Offer items that are easy to order from a supplier and don’t require any kitchen equipment. Planners will most likely opt for options available on-site to simplify the logistical planning of their event.
– Partner with catering companies in the area as preferred vendors and charge a fee or commission on any sales at your hotel. These partnerships will not only help you increase your revenue but also qualifies you for RFPs that have a catering component.
– Offer platters like fruit, vegetables and dip or charcuterie boards as snack options. These are easy to store, they don’t require any restaurant equipment to execute, and typically are priced to fit into any planners budget.
4 – Offer A/V Equipment Rentals
Investing in A/V equipment can seem like an unnecessary expenditure but, if you have the budget, it offers a great opportunity to increase your event revenue. It’s more convenient for a planner to rent equipment from the property rather than borrow or lease from a third party. Planners have a lot on their plate. By providing A/V equipment, it’s one less thing they have to remember plus they have on-site staff to help with any technical difficulties. You can also make a panicked planner’s day by providing them with a chord they left at home.
5 – Get Creative
What happens if you don’t have any meeting space or the planner requires on-site food and beverage? You may think that your only option is to turn down the RFP because you can’t meet all the planner’s criteria. The good news is there’s room for creativity when coming up with ideas to secure an RFP. We’ve looked at some common issues or roadblocks a hotel may face and come up with solutions that will ensure you lock in the booking and increase the event revenue.
Problem: You don’t have meeting space available for the dates requested
Solution: You have more event requests than spaces available at your hotel. What do you do? Suggest non-conventional areas of your hotel for the event. You could host a welcome drink reception in your lobby or have a networking event in the back of your restaurant. If it’s your first time hosting an event in a new area, make sure to document with photos and/or videos
Problem: The planner doesn’t have a budget for food and beverage
Solution: Encourage your front desk team to stay informed on upcoming events at your hotel. If they know an event doesn’t have any meals on their itinerary, they can offer attendees a discount or coupon for your restaurant or suggest they grab a snack from your snack bar. If you can’t increase the actual revenue at the event, try and increase spending at your property.
Problem: You’re a limited service hotel and the RFP has requirements outside of your capabilities
Solution: Partner with local businesses in your area that can help you take on these larger proposals. We’ve touched on this above – but build a preferred vendor list that you can reach out to if there is a more complex RFP. This will help you grow your profitability, the variety of events you can host, and increase the potential for referrals from partnering businesses.
These simple yet impactful techniques can assist you in securing more banquet sales at your hotel and increase the total bill. At the end of the day, this means more money to invest in your people and your product. Win – Win.