Doing Big Things by Looking at the ‘Bigger Picture’

When Mark Tenholder joined the Crowne Plaza St. Louis Downtown as director of sales, he saw a big opportunity. “I’m in downtown St. Louis, right next to the arch, and they were doing maybe 10 group tours every year,” said Mark. “For the location, that was not acceptable.”

One of Mark’s first steps was to lead a three-year, full-press commitment to the hotel’s new NTA membership. His next was to address the hotel’s group tour policies and procedures, which were very restrictive in terms of deposits and cancellations.

“You have to look at the bigger picture, and that’s what the operator appreciates” said Mark. “They want a company that will look at their side of the business.”

By focusing on the group market, Crowne Plaza St. Louis Downtown has gone – in three years – from $20,000 in annual group tour revenue to over $300,000 a year. THAT is doing big things.

And networking – not only with buyers, but also with DMOs and suppliers – has played a huge role in achieving those results.

Mark offers these tips to suppliers for networking your way to big things:

Research the operator. “Operators go to an NTA convention, and it’s a lot of work for those guys. I look at their schedules and I’m like, ‘Wow, they’re on the floor from that early to that late.’ I try to make sure I do all my research on the company not just from their profile, but also their Web sites. The more educated I can go into an appointment, the more appreciative they are.”

Establish a relationship with your DMO to maximize your appointment time. “When I meet with operators, my DMO has already covered all the bases of why to come to St. Louis because they met with them two days prior.”

Connect with other suppliers. “I know people who go into an after-hours thing and stick strictly to, ‘I can only talk to the operators, they’re who I get business from,’ but that’s not necessarily always the case. Sometimes, if you get introduced to an operator by another supplier, they’re more receptive to you.”

Do it all. “When I was at another property, I had a sales manager who would go to Convention and I’d ask, ‘What did you do?’ They didn’t do the networking events, just did the trade show floor and went back to the room. Anybody who doesn’t go to those other things, I think they’re crazy. I did the sightseeing tours in Vegas which gave me five extra hours with five or six operators. When I go, I’m doing it all.”

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