Hotel sales pros use psychological weapons to close more business #Part1

Chances are, several attempts have been made today to persuade you to do something.

This could include your daughter sweetly asking if she can get out of summer school in exchange for doing more chores. A waiter suggesting you try a new dessert after your lunch. Your mechanic recommending you replace old parts in your car. In all these cases, whether they knew it or not, these people were all using proven persuasion tactics to influence your decision making.

For hotel sales people, convincing travel and meeting planners to say “yes” is the ultimate goal. By using the Six Weapons of Influence, created by Robert Cialdini, a Professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, you’ll be able to impact a planner’s final decision and win more business.

Here’s what it takes:

1. Social proof – let past business sell for you

At the end of the day, travel planners will always trust their peers over you. So, prove your property is a worthy investment by showcasing the planners who have already said yes to you. Social proof is showing, “Others have booked with us. You should, too.”

Here’s how to do it right:

• Post short testimonials from past clients on your website, sales proposals and sales kits. The key is to only showcase testimonials that are detailed and poignant, perhaps even naming a specific team member or a specific encounter with your service.• Showcase the logos of companies that have booked business with you, from corporations to associations.• Instead of a gallery full of empty ballroom photos, show how flexible your venue is by posting photos of previous events held there.

2. Reciprocity – give to get

Studies show that people feel obliged to do something good for you after you’ve done something good for them. Offer something of value upfront, then corporate and meeting planners will have a natural desire to return the favor.

This idea of “give to get” is why smart hotel sales teams give their VIP suites, private chef tasting dinners and behind-the-scenes access to planners during site inspections in hopes of winning thousands of room nights.

To really make an impression, the key is to offer something that is memorable, relevant and personal. If you really want to land a piece of business, don’t just treat them to your generic logo-emblazoned gifts. Instead, find out what you can about the planner’s interests, from favorite music, food, hobbies. Purchase something that is tied to them personally and not the business at hand. Does she like watching plays? Arrange for a behind-the-scenes tour of your city’s historic theatre or tickets for two shows back in her home city.

3. Authority – Show Your Influence

It’s second nature for people to respect and follow orders from authority figures. In order for planners to trust you, your entire sales staff (as well as your catering, front desk and convention services staff) has to exude complete confidence, authority and competence.

After all, clients consider you a partner in planning. They want to know you have all of the latest hotel technology, you’re flexible and nimble enough to think of solutions on your toes and that you have access to resources they wouldn’t have otherwise.

One way to address this is a meetings-centric blog that positions you as a thought-leader in the meetings market. Write about off-site activities, thoughts on using the latest meeting technology or tips on working with speakers and other vendors. Another way to exude authority is to have your sales people join relevant LinkedIn groups and offer relevant (not salesy) comments and suggestions in the group discussions.

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