ON THE REBOUND: It is very rare when a big account is simply dropped into your lap in this industry, so the thought of “prospecting” or going on “sales calls” where you try to land an account is very intimidating to most operators.
Imagine my surprise when I completed a presentation for a large oil company and the general manager of the newest, biggest hotel in town approached me about doing business with the hotel. We were both at the same meeting of corporate travel and event planners touting our services. At the end of the meeting, he said he had no idea that we had so much to offer. He had no idea we had so many different types of vehicles and special VIP services. This would all lend well to this major chain hotel adjoining our local arena and convention center. I was thrilled. He told me to get in touch with his sales and catering manager to tell her about our company.
I asked my assistant to get me the appointment. She was not successful. I called myself and left a message to no avail. I had another assistant call and she was told they already have a transportation provider. I finally had to pull the “Your boss wants you to meet with me” card. That set the stage for a tense meeting. So tense, I was told we could stand in the lobby and talk upon my arrival. No conference room, no office, just the lobby was as far as I made it. I began my presentation anyway that included brochures, a description of vehicles, services we offered, technology we use, etc., and I just felt I was not gaining any ground.
So, in an about face, I asked her to tell me about the property. I asked her to show me the amenities of the hotel since we deal with elite people all the time who have administrative assistants that frequently ask us for a recommendation on the finer hotels of Bakersfield. I wanted to see it all including the penthouse suite where our deal was finally cemented. Her eyes lit up as she toured me through the facility. The floor was all hers. She told me about her team and what they do for corporate accounts. I asked her about taking her team out in our limo bus for a night of fun. She asked how much that would cost. I told her that I would not dream of charging her. Here I am asking her to entrust us with the transportation of hotel guests and I wanted her and her staff to experience first hand our service. She mentioned that their current provider had never offered them a free ride. I told her she, as the sales and catering manager, could get free local rides for herself whenever she needed as long as we had sufficient volume from the hotel. She just seemed to be so excited that I would give them a night out in the bus. We made a handshake deal and a few days later she was in my office to go over all the details we started in the lobby. And we were like old friends.
-- Jim Luff, LCT Contributing Editor
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