News for the Hospitality Executive
Blitzes: A Look At the Benefits of Team Efforts
by Dr. John Hogan, CHE CHA CMHS
March 8, 2011
The marketplace is showing signs of improvement in a number of locations. Business travel is beginning to notch up and many associations are experiencing some growth in attendance over the last two years. While some of the industry conferences in the past three months have been claiming the bottom has been reached and recovery in play, I still hear from many hotel managers and owners that the verdict is still out.
Part of that hesitation lies in the fact that there is still rate resistance in many market segments, as some property managers and/or sales representatives continue to practice rate cutting and discounting as their main strategy, despite proof from many studies that stress that discounting seldom does anything other than delay economic recovery, deliver more wear on the properties and slow property renovations from less cash flow.
I was speaking last week with my long time friend and co-author of Lessons from the Field, Howard Feiertag who is celebrating his 20th anniversary as a faculty member of the hospitality program at Virginia Tech . Howard mentioned that he had great feedback on a recent column he had written on prospecting and his comments reminded me of another way to offset the tendency to automatically discount, while building team spirit,
This activity has been around for at least 50 years and is often used by major brands. It is neither difficult or easy and is is a way to overcome lethargy in the sales effort.
What is a Sales Blitz?
The word "blitz” does not have any direct synonyms in a thesaurus. The dictionary would likely define it as:
The hotel staff's primary involvement includes a pre-blitz orientation dinner, providing collateral material, arranging for incentive awards, and providing the service of a sales manager each evening of the blitz period. Each day, upon the return of the blitzers, the sales manager reviews each blitz call report to determine the number of calls and leads that were turned in.
How You Can Arrange A Sales Blitz Of Your Own
A sales blitz is an intensive survey of a given geographical area to determine its market potential. The idea is to lay the groundwork for a sharp increase in business by gathering the information sales staff needs to do its job well.
The key to a successful blitz is to completely canvas an area in as little time as possible, with as few people as possible. To make that happen, proper organization is essential.
Who are The 'Blitzers'?
Anyone with a pleasant personality on a hotel's payroll can participate. Since the objective is not to sell but to gather information, the blitz team needn't be limited to members of the sales department. The idea is to extend the department's reach, not overload it with a new responsibility.
There's one critical thing to remember: the same people have to be used throughout the length of the blitz. Switching horses in midstream will only complicate matters as momentum will be lost and enthusiasm diluted.
The staff members chosen to participate have to be under the firm and direct control of one person. The director of sales is a good candidate, but that needn't be the case. The prime consideration is finding a blitz director" who can keep things under control.
The blitz director needs to start planning the operation 30 days in advance of the blitz date. Logical days to select are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, when the contacts are more likely to be in town. Three days of blitzing should be the maximum. For small properties with limited amount of blitzer time available, a one or two-day blitz could be satisfactory. In fact, a one-day mini-blitz would be a good place to start experimenting with the process.
How many calls?
The answer for a full-blown blitz would likely be 30 calls a day. In six and a half hours each person should be able to conduct "30 calls" Depending on the area assigned, the number of calls will vary. In a downtown office building in a medium to large city, a higher number should be made, while in smaller or outlying industrial areas, far fewer calls could result.
After the day's calls are completed, a blitz recovery period should be scheduled. It is during this time that the forms are turned in and reviewed by the blitz director or a member of the hotel's sales department. It would be appropriate to serve refreshments and snacks to the blitzers to help them unwind and discuss the day's work.
Grades are also assigned at the period when the forms are reviewed. A score chart is kept where each blitzer is credited with the number of calls and number of leads developed. Once tabulated, a daily winner of the "contest" should be announced and a prize should be awarded. After the last blitz day, a dinner may be planned with the spouses and guests of the blitzers included in the festivities.
The real key to a successful blitz program is proper motivation. Management and owners need to be behind the program as much, if not more, than the participants in the program. The blitzers need to be animated and psychologically motivated throughout the program. Breakfasts with music, signs, banners, awards, and other 'mood elevators" will help bring in great results.
Since the objective of the blitz is to develop sales leads, a good deal of time and money would be wasted if a poor follow-up job was done. After each day's calls have been tabulated, the blitz forms need to be sorted by the "grades" given each blitzer. The highest grades are obviously the forms with the best leads, and usually the ones that require immediate attention.
The sales director should determine which leads need to be followed up the very next morning and arrange the remaining forms in priority order for follow-up calls based on the information received.
Even while blitzers are out the next day; the sales department personnel should start on the follow-up of the previous day's work. It is important to check files first before the follow-up to see if more information on the prospect might already be available.
Although a successful blitz requires time and effort on the part of the management team, it always produces excellent results. Besides developing leads, it helps promote the property to the business community. In addition, it becomes a motivational tool for the staff members that have participated in a team effort, which creates a healthy, cooperative attitude that lasts a long time.
In organizing the calls to be made, the most helpful system is to use a city directory. The directory lists all addresses in a city by street designation. It is important to concentrate calls in one small area at a time so the blitzers aren't spread too thin.
Index cards should be used to record the addresses of all the calls that have got to be made. These cards are then assigned to the participants based on geographical territory.
For a three-day blitz, each person may be assigned 100 calls. (A good day's work would be 30 calls per person.) Logically, in a business area of any city the calls would be located right next door to each other— or in the case of office buildings, all in the same building, with the blitzer going floor to floor.
An adequate supply of collateral material and forms are necessary. Padded blitz survey forms should be plentiful (you will need at least one per call). In addition, property brochures, fact sheets and promotional material (about the entire facility including meeting space, restaurant, lounge etc.) should be given out on each call. Low-cost "promotional or advertising" gifts may be distributed, but they're certainly not necessary.
In today's competitive market, many brands and management groups band together and "attack" an area or market believed to have potential for the brand or group of hotels. Convention and Visitors' Bureaus, Chamber of Commerce and national sales teams have had excellent success with this tactic of reaching a large number of potential clients quickly with a motivated team of interested professionals.
My next column will highlight another approach on Blitzes and A Not So New Technique For Building Sales
“What are you doing at your hotel, restaurant or hospitality business?
Feel free to share an idea for a column at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements … And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.
John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is Co-Founder of a consortium (www.HospitalityEducators.com) of successful corporate and academic professionals delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today.
www.HospitalityEducators.com is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability. Individuals wishing to contribute materials may send them Kathleen@HospitalityEducators.com. Special pricing is in effect for a limited time that also includes a complimentary copy of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD- A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES.
Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE
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