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How a SMERFE Sales Manager Finds Group Business
By Amber Lee 

Being a SMERFE Sales Manager at a mid-scale hotel, newly renovated, 5 miles south of a major city, with over 300 rooms, restaurant, bar, business center, 13,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, you have to realize how important getting groups to book at your hotel is.

If your property was a dog and a lot of your regular group accounts were lost to competition over the years, It will be a challenge to win these clients back. Depending on how bad you want them, often depends on how low you go on your rate.

Almost every time, if you undercut the competition you can get them back for a try. But don't let your lowest bid be your first quote. Take the time to shop call your competition. Now you will know how they are selling and what they are quoting.

Knowledge is everything and you will be much smarter during negotiations. We all know rate is a huge part of the buyers decision. To lure them more, we often give a comp room to whoever matters during the duration of their program. We have plenty of rooms available on any date next year. So we can take base business.

If you have bookings, make sure you cap your group rooms so the property maximizes it's revenue over those peek dates. I have called, emailed and mailed letters to old clients that we had lost. Almost every one of them I either matched the rate of my main competitor based on who they tell me they have spoken with. Or I drop the rate a couple bucks down and that usually gets them.

That might not be the best advice or make sense to your property, but for my type of hotel, it's working. I spend 30% of my time working on this business with about a 90% return. A couple of things I do is keep in touch with these clients and keep to my promises. If these clients are traced properly, you will not waste time calling too early to follow up or calling too late.

Remember that getting or not getting this group business can make or break your hotel.