How to perfect your sales process to win more group business and become a sought-after wedding venue
By Ryan Hamilton, Co-Founder, SalesAndCatering.com and Bluebuzzard Technology Group
Lately, everywhere you turn, there seems to be a tangible shift in energy – an exciting buzz in the air as we await the change of season, with cool spring mornings soon to become warm summer nights. Of course, this isn’t just any seasonal transition; this marks the first ‘normal’ summer most of us will have had in two years due to the pandemic, and it’s easy to understand the anticipation we all feel. But there is, perhaps, no group of people more affected by this anticipation than newlyweds-to-be. After two years of postponed or canceled weddings and events, the time has finally come – wedding bells are ringing, and we find ourselves at the precipice of a hectic, long-awaited wedding season.
For hotels and venue spaces, this also marks the return of group business to its former glory and should inspire a heightened priority as business travel demand still lags slightly behind in its recovery. While transient business adheres to the usual ebb and flow of seasonal demand and travel trends, group business remains in a league of its own; after all, events are a big-ticket business for hotels and venues. And so, as the demand for wedding venues and related events surges in response to a world that has finally reopened, hotels should ensure their sales teams are well equipped to answer that demand.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of best practices to ensure your sales team is prepared for the return of weddings and events this summer and beyond.
1. Give Couples and Planners What They Want
This suggestion is two-fold; first, your sales team must become familiar with current trends to understand what couples and planners are seeking from potential venues. Then, they must demonstrate how your hotel or venue can satisfy that wish list.
Of course, this is where the perfect proposal comes in handy, which is best curated and delivered via a dedicated proposal platform. Hotel sales teams should be able to create an eye-catching, memorable proposal with ease that is not only aesthetically pleasing and in line with current trends but is interactive. Your team should not only strive to show a prospective client what the wedding would look like but give them an idea of what the event will feel like hosted at your venue. To this effect, a proposal platform offers your sales team a step-by-step workflow that allows them to create a professionally designed proposal that will immediately capture the attention of a prospective client and differentiate your property from competitors.
2. Showcase Your Brand Standards
While we’re on the topic of event proposals and proposal technology, we cannot ignore the importance of brand standards and consistency. Often, your hotel or venue will only have one chance to make a lasting impression, and clients planning their perfect day will actively seek out those venues that are not only organized but think of every last detail.
With this in mind, proposal design is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your property’s commitment to the highest level of service and attention to detail. It should be designed and presented in a manner that is clearly aligned with your brand standards.
3. If It’s Not Mobile-Friendly, It’s Not Planner-Friendly
We live in a digital era, and, as such, our sales efforts should be offered across a variety of mediums, not all of which are printed on paper. Event planners, especially, have a penchant for virtual presentations optimized for mobile viewing either on their handheld device, tablet, or laptop while presenting venue options to their clients.
As such, it’s increasingly important for hotels and venues to develop proposals and sales materials (such as catering menus, fact sheets, seating plans, etc.) that offer a responsive, digitally-savvy design. The rule of thumb is relatively simple – anything you send a prospective client should look consistently great, whether viewed on a desktop computer, iPad, tablet, smartphone, or other handheld mobile devices.
4. Time is of the Essence
It should come as no surprise that timing is everything in wedding planning. As couples look to reschedule (or finally schedule) their big day in the wake of the pandemic, many wedding planners will be working with uncharacteristically tight timelines.
With this in mind, hotels and venues must provide their sales teams with tools that allow for easy management of RFPs, as well as lead tracking features and automation that ensure no prospective lead slips through the cracks. With the right sales and catering platform, sales teams can offer accelerated response time and streamlined communications and benefit from detailed tracking and reporting that maximizes productivity when it matters most. Manage the entire sales and catering process from start to finish. Capture leads, send digital proposals, update your CRM, manage bookings, keep a function diary, send out BEOs, merge contracts, manage workflow, and report on every little detail of your sales and catering team.
After all, a missed lead is lost business.
5. Remember – You’re Selling an Experience
For many couples, a wedding is a day they’ve dreamed about for years or, perhaps, their entire life. There is tremendous pressure associated with this type of event, as it will live on as a treasured memory and moment in time for that couple and their loved ones. In this sense, it’s far more than an event – it’s an experience, one that is enriched with emotion and excitement. Your venue’s commitment to bringing dream weddings to life should be reflected across all social channels (website, social media, etc.) and should be demonstrated via highly effective visual tools.
As such, hotels and venues are encouraged to seek out technology that allows them to provide 3D virtual walk-throughs, videos, and custom site tours that help their sales team engage with customers on a more meaningful, tangible level. With interactive media elements, hotels and venues are far better equipped to connect with prospective clients, personalize their offering, demonstrate their expertise, and distinguish their property from competitors.
With the surge of events on the horizon, now is the time to invest in a full-featured, cloud-based sales and catering system with integrated proposal management, e-signature capabilities, and online RFPs that empower your sales and catering teams to perform at the highest level. Without these tools in place, your sales team is about as prepared for wedding season as a football team that hasn’t practiced in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. Don’t you want to put your sales team in the best possible position to win that ring – the wedding ring, that is – and truly maximize your group and event sales?