Interim Hospitality Consultants
. . . an independent consulting firm specializing in 
hotel management, 
feasibility analysis studies, 
site development and 
hospitality business solutions. . . 
Business Appreciation Day 
Improves Occupancy Rates 
By Edward L. Xanders, CHA 

 Every owner and hotel general manager wishes to say thank you to his guests for using the hotel. However, the majority of the time he is too busy with the daily routine. The Business Appreciation Day is one method for professional hoteliers to say thank you. 

A Business Appreciation Day is a concentrated sales effort designed not only to demonstrate appreciation to past clientele, but also to
generate new sources of business. 

To plan, organize, and follow up such a day, the following 12 points should be followed. 

1.  Establish a client list from sales history files of individuals and firms that have generated business for the hotel in the past year. The list should also include names of local elected officials and members of the local newspaper and television media. Take particular care not to duplicate more than two names from any one firm. The maximum number should be 500 names typed on labels that are easily duplicated, by photocopying machines, for future use. 

2.  Select a date: either Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Also consider the time of the year to avoid the hotel's peak season or the December holiday season. 

3.  Print engraved invitations, inviting the mailing list to a reception. Mail the invitations approximately 2 to 3 weeks before the Business Appreciation Day. On the invitation, there should be a "regrets only" telephone number (possibly to the sales or general manager's office). 

4. A list of sales calls should be developed by the sales department from the mailed invitations. Care should be taken to group businesses together, with no more than 15 on one particular list, from the same geographic region.

5. The general manager should ask department managers, supervisors and key employees to represent the hotel on Business Appreciation Day. He should try to make two-person teams of male/female. Care should be taken to team an extroverted personality with an introverted personality. No care should be taken as to matching specific departments. It has proven very beneficial to have a representative of the sales department teamed with the executive chef, or a representative from the accounting office teamed with the executive housekeeper. This is a fun and innovative part of the Business Appreciation Day having department managers and employees represent the hotel as sales ambassadors.

On the Business Appreciation Day, a key department manager should be left at the hotel as the Manager on Duty. 

6. The sales department should assimilate 20 sales packets per team. The packet should include banquet menus, meeting room diagrams, guest room rates, sales brochures and any other information on the Food and Beverage Department or general information concerning the hotel. The packets will be distributed by the sales teams and be available to guests at the Business Appreciation Day reception. 

7. The day itself has arrived. Kick off the day with a breakfast in the hotel for the sales teams. Give each team 15 to 20 calls that they are to make. Also include 20 sales call report forms. Be sure to reimburse those employees driving their own automobiles for their mileage.

By 9:00 a.m. the sales teams should be making their calls. They are thanking your clients for their business at your hotel, reinviting them to that evening's reception and inquiring about immediate or future needs that the hotel could provide. 

When the calls are being made, two additional points can be stressed: 

  • Try to obtain two business cards from the meeting planner of the firm you are calling on, for later use. 
  • Obtain the correct name and title of the individual who books your hotel's guest rooms for out-of-town visitors. These names will eventually be used to develop a list for membership in a club that promotes their sense of belonging and special relationship to your hotel. 
8.  At noon the sales teams must not return to the hotel, or they will become involved in the day-to-day business of the hotel. Have them meet at a special restaurant or your competitor's hotel for lunch.

At lunch, each team should give a verbal report of how the morning sales calls progressed. It is quite interesting to see that those teams that were extremely apprehensive at breakfast, now display the confidence of veteran sales people. 

After lunch, the teams should continue making the balance of their calls, while encouraging those who are more adept to make the cold calls and invite the cold-call people to that evening's reception.

After all of the teams have completed their calls, they should return to the hotel by 4:00 p.m. Guest rooms should be set aside for the team members to use for changing clothes and freshening themselves for the evening's reception. 

9.  At 5:00 p.m. the Business Appreciation Day Reception begins. The Reception can be held in the Ballrooms, Meeting Rooms, Poolside or a tent in the Parking Lot It should be as elaborate as the hotel can conduct and the budget will allow. If your hotel does not have a Food and Beverage Department, then have the Reception catered by a very professional firm. This is the hotel's day to thank the business community for the support they have given the hotel. The sales team members should attend this function and circulate throughout the room thanking the people for their business. You will receive many comments from your clients stating that they have had hotel sales people call upon them for years; but have never had any one thank them for business. It is very important that the service department managers know the need for sales.

Have a guest book at the reception, along with name tags for all attending guests, and continue to collect business cards from those clientele missed earlier in the day. 

Be sure to have meeting rooms set up in such a manner that tours of the hotel can be given by the sales team members. How many times has a person booked rooms at the hotel, but has never seen one? Have guest rooms of various styles set aside for tours. This is the time to show off the hotel. Even if it was done at the grand opening party, do it again to reinforce their awareness of the hotel. 

10. By the end of the week following the Business Appreciation Day, the sales department should have reviewed the sales report forms. The calls should be listed as to: 

  • a possible interest,
  • tentative business, and 
  • definite business. 
Follow-up calls should be made by the sales staff within two weeks. 

11. Two additional benefits of this day are: 

  • Use the collected business cards as a thank you gift. Purchase a luggage-tag machine and make the business cards into luggage tags. Mail them out within 7-10 days after the Business Appreciation Day, again thanking your clients for their business and giving them a personal token they can keep on a year-round basis, reminding them of your hotel. 
  • With your list of names of personnel who make reservations for out-of-town guests, establish a special club which recognizes and encourages their continuing recommendations and referrals for your hotel. Such clubs can have many names, but their mission is a necessary function of every hotel's marketing program.
A friend of mine has suggested that club names be selected which enhance the member's image of himself/herself as a respected member of your informal sales team. With that rule of thumb in mind, she rejects the generalization of a "Secretaries Club," the double-entendre of "Executive Sweets," and the chauvinism of "Ramada Girls" or Sheraton's "Selective Service." "If you can't pay commissions," she reasons, "you can at least pay compliments." Why not call them "Encore Clubs," she suggests, "for encouraging repeat reservations?" 

12. How much does it take to invest in thanking your clientele? Your basic costs will include printing and postage for the invitations, hourly wages of the sales team members, transportation costs for those who drove their personal cars and their breakfast and lunch, along with the total wholesale cost of the food, liquor, flowers and decorations for the reception. An extra cost would be for the luggage tags or other suitable souvenirs and their mailing.

Approximately two months after the Business Appreciation Day, the sales department should total, on a definite and tentative basis, that business sold that can be directly attributed to this sales effort. When the cost of the Business Appreciation Day is divided against its booked sales, an Acquisition of Sales cost should be 15 to 20 percent. 

There are many times we wish to say thank you to our clients who are using the hotel. The Business Appreciation Day is but one method, a proven method that works extremely well on a one-time basis, or as an annual event.

Interim Hospitality Consultants
Edward L. Xanders, CHA, President
4145 Yardley Circle
Tallahassee, FL 32308-2942
Phone: (850) 893-6010; Fax: (850)893-8345
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