Poorly Written Proposals Sabotage Hotel Sales Efforts

written proposal

A poorly written proposal can destroy what would be an otherwise effective hotel sales effort.

A written proposal is almost always necessary when you’re trying to secure new business for your hotel of other hospitality venue. And when it does come time for you to submit a written proposal to the client, it needs to be good. The written proposal is one of the many things in your sales effort that you have to do correctly to get the business.

And nothing quite turns off a meeting planner quite like a poorly written proposal.

Typically your written proposal is one of two kinds. You send it using either:

  • Email
  • Printing and sending (postal service, FedEx, etc.)

This training is not about the basics of proposal writing. But I do have some things for you to watch out for.

A written proposal done by email can be a great time saver for all of us (and better for the environment too). But it’s critical that you do not allow this short cut to make your email look like a form letter. I cringe at how often I see e-proposals that look like form letters. They’re even full of typos, misspellings and grammatical mistakes.

If you’re just changing the salutation by replacing Mr. Jones with Mrs. Smith and not altering much else, stop doing that. A real hotel sales pro doesn’t do that.

Your client has lots of possibilities when it comes to choosing a hotel or venue.

written proposals show possibilities

I encourage you to make your written proposal a really good one so that yours will stand out from the other proposals that the client is receiving. To do so:

  1. Make sure you proofread it, checking it over thoroughly. Spell checkers don’t catch everything
  2. Decide if it really captures you conversation and emphasizes your hotel’s advantages, especially those you know the other hotels do not have.

In our consulting and training practice we do many test calls for hotel companies that hire us. And we never try to trick the person we speak with at the hotel. We really do want you to do well. But many times, posing as a planner, we’ll say to the sales person, “There are two other things that I need you to tell me about: 1) do you provide complimentary high-speed internet access? and 2) do you charge for parking? Be sure to include that in the proposal, because those are important decision making factors for us.”

Later, when we get the written proposal, there’s often no mention of parking or high-speed internet access. That’s just not professional. A planner at that point would have to call or email to get that information. It shows a lack of attention to detail and follow-up — not good characteristics for a hotel to display.

We need to excel at placing the client inside of our product.

We can all learn a lesson from one sales profession that does an EXCELLENT job of  putting the customer inside the product — auto sales people. They literally want to put you INSIDE the product they are trying to sell you. They want you in the driver’s seat and for you to take a test drive. Think about it, how much can you really learn about a car when you drive three city blocks out one highway exit, back one highway exit? But you absolutely think you KNOW what it;s like to have that car.

The same principle is true for us.

Everyone has a cell phone with a camera these days. I think it would help lots if every time you taking a customer on a site inspection, take lots of pictures of that client in your hotel. Take a picture of that client in a meeting room, take a picture of him or her with the G. M. and/or chef, take a shot of that person in the Presidential Suite, the break-out room, and at the front desk. When you submit your price info or whatever info they request (even the written proposal when appropriate) you’ve got multiple pictures of him/her in and around the hotel.

I always preach that you and your hotel are NOT judged on an objective basis where you are compared to all the hotels in the world. Your site inspection and hotel just need to be better than every other site inspection and hotel they took that day or on that trip. That is the critical comparison. And how many hospitality sales reps send their customers pictures of themselves in communications or a written proposal? If there is one picture your client will ALWAYS look at it’s a shot of themselves. We all do it. It’s human nature.

You have to be the judge in your market of when your written proposal should be an e-proposal or a printed one.

It might be especially advisable to send a written proposal when dealing with a selection committee, for example. In these cases your hotel needs a great 4-color printer to create your written proposal. They are just not that expensive any more. Wouldn’t it be outstanding if your written proposal was leather-bound, gold embossed, and lacquered for every member of the selection committee? That would give you a huge edge on the competition. I realize that you can’t do this for every little account that may come along but if you are trying to really out-class your competition, try showing up with leather bound, foil-stamped, 4-color pictures copies of the written proposal.

This is a great method for getting an advantage with a selection committee.

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