Event Sales Is a Contact Sport


The Holiday Season is winding down and it is time to start thinking about how to make 2013 the best year ever for Private Dining bookings. Before I started Tripleseat I was the VP of Sales for a Business Intelligence company and before that I was a Catering and Event Sales Manager for Starwood Hotels in Boston. I used to dread this time of year as everyone was asking me what I was going to book and then they would add another 25% to the number. With no game plan or any marketing support I was sent out to go forth and conquer.  Every year I managed to make my quota and  below is how I did it:

My old Sales manager would say to us you need to “PUFF”. He was right. PUFF stands for PICK.UP.F#$%.FPHONE. I would set aside an hour every Monday/Wednesday/Friday usually @ 10AM to call local business near the hotel. I would ask for the Executive Assitant first (which is great as they are the one usually answer the phone) and simply say the following: “Hi this is Jono from Boston Park Hotel and the reason I am calling is to see if you or your company is planning any events in the near future. Our hotel is perfect for small to medium meetings or offsite events and I would love it if we could host your next event” What would happen next is that they would put me in touch with the right person or we would schedule a follow up call to review possible dates.  No one every hung up on me or told me to go jump off a bridge. I usually got the response of “good timing we were just thinking about…..” If I got voicemail I would say the exact same thing and leave my name and phone number and I would call them back on X day at X time.

To create a call list in Tripleseat simply go to Reports then Contacts, set your parameters of what you want. Example: All contacts with address, phone, e-mail and area (like Zip code or city). Run the report and save it as a favorite so you can access it anytime you want.

OK. So have the web is dedicated to this subject so I will not go into great detail on how to do it, more about h0w I did it. A nice resource on E-mail Marketing can be found on our E-Mail Marketing Partner Constant Contact. What I would do with e-mail is that after I left a voicemail I would IMMEDIATELY send a e-mail saying the same thing I left on their voicemail. Most people do not check voicemail very often so I would use the e-mail as my back up. The e-mail would typically start by saying “I just left you a voicemail but I thought I follow up with this e-mail too….” I would keep the e-mail super short. I would never go into a 5 paragraph description of the venue and how awesome we are. They never, ever read it. This is a fact. Most e-mail are now read on the phone so a long e-mail can look like War and Peace.

Now there are some fantastic tools to make e-mailing easy. I like Yesware for e-mail tracing and templates on the fly. If you find typing the same message over and over again then Yesware can save you a TON of time. It is free to cheap. If you feel compelled to write long e-mails and you feel your website does not represent your space well try using Instapage. Instapage allows you (yes you) to build web landing pages. You don’t need to know any code and you don’t need a web designer to make awesome landing pages. This tool is dead simple to use and it is also free to cheap. So, instead of writing that long prose send the reader to your awesome landing page where you can have call to action (Book Now!) and pictures, pictures, pictures!

One of the most effective (and fun BTW) was to just drive/walk around to all the business in a 20 mile radius. I was lucky working in Boston as I would not have to go far to hit up a office park or building. I would put on my best suit, shine up the shoes and go for it. I would only walk up to the receptionist and simply say “Hi, I am Jonathan from the Park Plaza Hotel and I wanted to drop off some brochues about our event space and give you some coupons for a free appetizers at our restaurant.” People were always happy to see me and they thanked me for stopping by. Most would give me the name of the person who does the Event Booking and @ 50% of the time they would have them come out and say hi. It was great and I got a ton of business this way. If you are little scared of doing this, bring a friend as your wingman/woman, make a game of it. I would do this walk about every Quarter.

To map out your route you can go to Tripleseat then to Reports and to Contacts (similiar to above) and then run a report on Accounts (that is the businees v. the person) by address. You can map out your route with Google Maps so you drive or walk in a effiecient manner.