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Lessons from the Field
A Common Sense Approach to Success in the Hospitality Industry
By Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE, August 26, 2009

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Hotel Common Sense –

Maximizing Effectiveness at Trade Shows

A Baker’s Dozen of Strategies in Maximizing Leads and Attendee Sales
Potential at your Hospitality Trade Show Booth
Part 2


By Dr. John Hogan, CHE CHA MHS, August 26, 2009

In these times of  lower attendance at some shows, reduced budgets and mixed economic indicators, we must all use our resources prudently.   From the standpoint of productivity, substantially more sales contacts can be made at a meeting, conference or trade show in two days than in the same amount of time on the street knocking on doors. Those contacts can be as many as 3 to 5 people in a 30-minute period at a trade show, compared to a full day in the traditional selling. Some of those contacts may be significant, whether as initial introductions or in more detailed qualification of a potential client’s needs.

The quality of those contacts can be enhanced tremendously with advance preparation and a commitment to follow up. 
 

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”   Arthur Ashe (1943 –1993), American professional tennis player, who won three Grand Slam titles, ranking him among the best ever from the USA 

Part 1 - Increasing traffic at your hospitality trade show booth addressed a number of fundamentals:

1.  Factors to consider in selecting the show or conference to attend 
2.  Details of how the booth is set up and staffed 
3.  Realization that a primary goal is to make certain that everyone who visits your booth remember your hotel or hospitality company in a favorable way  
4.  Creating awareness before the show to probable show attendees 
5.  Give-away items and/or handouts
Part 2 – Maximizing leads and attendee sales potential at your hospitality trade show booth

Success at trade shows and conferences depends on the marketing strategy you develop to sell your property and the tactics you use to turn those leads into sales calls and, eventually, bookings. 

While shows can provide access to a large number of potential clients, the measurable success depends substantially on the quality of your booth staff’s interaction and follow-up . 

The booth itself has some rules: it should be staffed on time and always attended when the show is open. It must be kept orderly and have an uncluttered appearance at all times, as this may be the 1st impression a potential client has of your hotel or hospitality company professionalism.

Some items relating to staffing were covered in part 1 and additional items are included here.

1. Do NOT shortchange your hotel on the number of qualified booth staff, as most attendees will wait less than one minute for attention. We must remember, this is the attendees’ show and they either are often in a hurry or are tiring from the show interactions.  This may be your only chance to reach show attendees and depending on the size of a show, it can be difficult to see all of the booths even once. You cannot count on someone returning  to your booth if they could not get what they wanted the first time. 

2. A key to trade show success is the training of your booth staff. You have chosen to participate in a particular trade show because you have done some advance planning and goal setting. You know the people attending the show, why they are attending and this insight of what they might be looking to learn from you should help you design your handouts and sales message.    

3. Friendly, professional, courteous  and knowledgeable staff are essential. Successful trade show exhibitors will share with you that one must engage the person within 20-30 seconds of their arrival at your booth or you will likely lose them. What attracts people to your show booth is a friendly staff, coupled with an appealing booth décor and message. 

4. Insist on your staff practicing the sales message. This means, writing it down and practicing in advance. Before the trade show, practice sessions for your booth staff are crucial to maximize the leads and sales potential at a trade show. 

5. Keep your sales message short -- time is important to show attendees and hours may not be ideal to all.  Ask questions learned from the training lead pages to establish client needs and timing. These questions (who, what, why, when, where) are a pre-qualifying stage and do not need to take longer than 2-3 minutes. If there is a match and the prospect is qualified, one can go into a more involved discussion, answer questions, present details on services or arrange for a specific follow-up.    Be certain to swipe their electronic ID badge or obtain their business card. Plan to follow up by sending materials to their office so that the detailed information is there as quickly as possible after the trade show.

6. Even though you want only qualified leads, do not allow your staff to be inattentive. If there is not a match and they may not need your hotel’s specific service, they may be able to recommend you to someone who does. 

7. Focus on staff enthusiasm.  This means direct eye contact, welcoming  visitors by greeting, welcoming and qualifying them as appropriate. Name badges should be on the right side of the body so it can be seen when shaking hands.

8. Be assertive!  In order to stop the crowd of show attendees, staff should greet everyone that walks by. You cannot sit back and wait for them to come to you. 

9. Set attainable goals to measure your success.  Give them specific goals so they can measure exactly where they are in reaching those goals.   It can be number of visitors, items requested , appointments made or a range of agreed upon  items including follow-up.  Knowing where they stand in meeting those goals while at the show will provide them with a sense of self-assurance to interact successfully with potential clients.

10. Avoid customer turn-offs . There is nothing more unattractive than a staffer sitting in a chair behind the table focusing his/her interest on everything but the attendees.  Other booth staff behaviors to stay away from are talking more with other booth staff or company representatives when they should be engaging prospects or talking more than listening to visitors.  Making or taking  phone calls, chewing gum, poor body language, avoiding eye contact, sitting rather than standing, etc. in the booth are among  customers’ turn-offs.

11. Provide meaningful give-aways the attendee can take back to their office or home, depending on the kind of show.   Incentives to stimulate booth traffic can include different items each hour or items that tied into advance promotion in your hotel’s booth before the show started. 

12. Place literature and give-aways at the back of your space so that attendees will have to come into your booth will give one additional chance to meet, greet and qualify visitors.  Contact information prominently displayed in your materials will also assist in effective communication.  Make sure that staff can answer questions beyond the information in the short sales message. If they do not have a complete answer, make sure they call upon someone else or at least follow up after the show. 

13. Follow up promptly after the show. This needs to be one of the measurements of success mentioned in #9. If there is no immediate follow-up, you may as well have not even bothered to attend because your focused competitors will be contacting as many people as they qualified immediately.  In this age of information overload,  continuing interest in your services will lessen unless reinforced positively with something of value to them

Trade shows are like every other sales strategy – their effectiveness depends on focus, quality of information gathering and follow-up.

How well do you prepare at your hotel?



 

Feel free to share an idea for a column at johnjhogan@yahoo.com anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements …………. 
And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.
 

I was invited by Lorman Education Services to offer a teleconference on this topic and they have agreed to offer a $50 discount for any of my readers that mention discount code Z7745121 when they register online.

Effective Sales Management: 
Short and Long-term Planning, Forecasting, and Expense Budgeting

September 14, 2009 
1:00 PM ET 
Program # 382449
Both parts of this series on Short and Long-term Planning, Forecasting, and Expense Budgeting  are in the teleconference.

Autographed copies of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES can be obtained from THE ROOMS CHRONICLE www.roomschronicle.com and other industry sources. 

All rights reserved by John Hogan and this column may be included in an upcoming book on hotel management.   The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication

John Hogan, a career hotelier and educator, is frequently invited to participate at franchise meetings, management company and hospitality association industry events.  He is a successful senior executive with a record of accomplishment in leading hospitality industry organizations at multiple levels, with demonstrated competencies as a strong leader, relationship builder, problem solver and mentor. He conducts mystery-shopping reviews of quality in operations and marketing, including repositioning of hotels.

Expertise and Research Interest
• Sales Management and training
• Turn-around and revenue management
• Professional Development & Customer Service
• Hospitality Leadership and Executive Education
• Making Cultural Diversity Real
• Accreditation & Developing Academic Hospitality programs

He writes weekly columns for a number of global online services and has published more than 400 articles & columns on the hotel industry.  He co-authored (with Howard Feiertag, CHA CMP) LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES, which is available from info@smartbizzonline.com, ROOMS CHRONICLE www.roomschronicle.com  and other industry sources.  He resides in Phoenix, Arizona and expects to publish in 2009 his 2nd book based on his dissertation – The Top 100 People of All Time Who Most Dramatically Affected the Hotel Industry.

Hogan’s professional experience includes over 35 years in hotel operations, food & beverage, sales & marketing, training, management development and asset management on both a single and multi-property basis, including service as Senior Vice President of Operations in a specialty hotel brand for six years.

He holds a number of industry certifications (CHA, CHE, MHS, ACI) and is a past recipient of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging Journalism, as well as operational and marketing awards from international brands.  He has served as President of both city and state hotel associations.

John’s background includes teaching college level courses as an adjunct professor at three different colleges and universities over a 20-year period, while managing with Sheraton, Hilton, Omni and independent hotels.  He was the principal in an independent training & consulting group for more than 12 years serving associations, management groups, convention & visitors’ bureaus, academic institutions and as an expert witness.  He joined Best Western International in spring of 2000, where over the next 8 years he created and developed a blended learning system as the Director of Education & Cultural Diversity for the world’s largest hotel chain. 

He has served on several industry boards that deal with education and/or cultural diversity and as brand liaison to the NAACP and the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association with his long-term involvement in the Certified Hotel Owner program.  He has conducted an estimated 3,200 workshops and classes in his career. 

Service to the Industry and Hospitality Education includes working with the Educational Institute Certification Commission of the AH&LA, the Hospitality Industry Diversity Institute, the AH&LA Multicultural Advisory Council, the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration, the Commission for Accreditation on Hospitality Management Programs, the AH&LA and AAHOA Education and Training Committees, the Council of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Educators (CHRIE), the International Hotel Show and the Certified Hotel Owner program for the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association.
 

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Contact:

Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE
johnjhogan@yahoo.com

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Also See: Increasing Traffic at your Hospitality Trade Show Booth / Dr John Hogan / August 2009
A Sales Self-evaluation test for General Managers / Dr John Hogan / August 2009
Hotel Common Sense – Effective Sales Management: Short and Long-term Planning, Forecasting, and  Expense Budgeting / Part 2 of 2 / Dr. John Hogan / August 2009
Hotel Common Sense – Effective Sales Management: Short and Long-term Planning, Forecasting, and  Expense Budgeting / Part 1 of 2 / Dr. John Hogan / August 2009
Hotel Common Sense -Recognizing There is More than One Approach to Ongoing Success in Building Revenues / Dr John Hogan / July 2009
Hotel Common Sense – A New Look at Awards and Recognition / Dr John Hogan / July 2009
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A Common Sense Review Process for Capital Investments / Dr John Hogan / July 2009
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Personal Stories of Delivering Hospitality and Pride / Dr John Hogan / June 2009
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Act As if You Are Number Two / Dr John Hogan / May 2009
A Baker’s Dozen of Fundamentals for Retaining Quality Staff / Dr John Hogan / May 2009
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Do You Know Where Your Customer Is? Or Knowing Where Your Business Originates / Dr John Hogan / April 2009
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“A Bakers Dozen” of Strategies for Hotel Controllers / Dr John Hogan / April 2009
A Different Appraisal of Our Biggest Challenges in 2009 / Dr John Hogan / April 2009
Reflections: Mentors and Friends - Vermont Hoteliers Borden and Louise Avery and their Son Allen / Dr John Hogan / March 2009
Remember to Embrace the Essentials in Sales; Revenue and net profits can often depend on how one of the most fundamental practices in sales- how incoming phone calls are handled / Dr. John Hogan / March 2009
Getting the Most Out of Your Hotel Franchise Investment; Working With Your Hotel Franchisor for Everyone’s Success / Dr. John Hogan / March 2009
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Getting the Most Out of Your Hotel Franchise Investment / Dr. John Hogan / Dr. John Hogan / March 2009
Four Steps: How to Make More Sales Calls than Any Other Way Or Trade Shows Can Be Invaluable If. . . / Dr. John Hogan / February 2009
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Making New Year's Sales and Marketing Resolutions Real and Practical / Dr. John Hogan / January 2009
Planning in a Challenging Economy - Probing Hotel Expenses / Dr. John Hogan / December 2008
Planning in a Challenging Economy - Fundamentals of Hotel Sales Planning / Dr. John Hogan / December 2008
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Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager Part One: Understanding the Organization / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008 
Updating Hotel Marketing and Sales Strategies Mid Year NOW Is Essential / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
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...

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