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David Brudney & Associates
2938A Luciernaga Street
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Phone: 760-994-9266

It's Time to Revisit the Art of "Check-Building" and "Add-Ons"

David Brudney & Associates- Hospitality Marketing Consultants
David M. Brudney, ISHC, a nationally recognized spokesman for hotels and a veteran with four decades of experience, is the principal of David Brudney & Assoc. of Carlsbad, CA

David M. Brudney, ISHC, July 29, 2011

"Car wash today?"

An automatic question flashes at the pump whenever filling your tank with gas or buying a snack inside the station's convenience store.

"Do you need stamps?"

You hear that every time your transaction has ended at the local post office.

When a customer is at a station prepared and committed to buy, there is no better time to add on to that purchase.

It seems so simple and yes, that principle is practiced almost everywhere consumers shop today.

You can't buy a new business suit or even a sports coat without a sales associate suggesting you look at some ties. The really good ones won't let you get away without looking at shirts, shoes, socks and even underwear.

And just try and purchase a new or used car without being pitched on additional coverages, security systems and pre-paid service for the first year of ownership.

Professional waiters know full well that recommending appetizer starters and then specialty desserts may lead to bigger checks and tips as well.

Restaurants, gas stations, retail clothiers, auto dealerships and yes, even the much-maligned and financially troubled U.S. Postal Service, demonstrate they "get it" - - understanding the value and executing what we call "check building" or "add-ons."

Additional Purchases Represent Incremental Revenue

I'm reminded that with demand returning, with so many new groups looking to book, with long-awaited opportunities to capture higher room rates and total spend, and with hotels faced with a major influx of younger, less experienced sales associates, now is the time to revisit the practice of building on the sale - - the art of "suggesting" additional purchases representing coveted incremental revenue.

Let's keep in mind that whatever it takes to get the buyer to the point where an actual transaction takes place - - once they are "there" - - opportunities for incremental sales appear, possibly never before or ever again.

The buyer - - a professional meetings manager, for our purposes - - remains in a receptive mood at the time the negotiation has ended and a verbal commitment has been made. That meetings manager feels a sense of power and accomplishment - - a moment that perhaps may come only once a year.

Customers Buy to Feel Good or Solve a Problem

One of the two reasons customers buy is to make them feel good, writes Michael LeBoeuf, Ph.D., author of "How to win customers and keep them for life" (the other reason LeBoeuf gives is to solve a problem).

Hotel sales associates must play to that customer "feel good" and to the power the meetings manager experiences right at the time of closing the sale.

That is the precise time to "suggest" some check builders or add-ons. The meetings manager may not have planned or even thought of additional items they might be purchasing later or possibly overlooked altogether.

Adding to the buyer's shopping cart - - recognizing and rewarding achievements by attendees, VIPs and guest speakers:

  • Upgrading a select group of attendees to suites or superior rooms (that may otherwise go unsold)
  • Multiple gift certificates for attendees to take home for future usage
  • Pre-paid dinner parties @ hotel's signature restaurants
  • Pre-paid spa treatments, rounds of golf
  • Pre-paid room service orders or special guest room amenities
  • Pre-paid leisure packages (to be used for future return trips)
  • Hotel merchandise sold at hotel outlets or on hotel's website (robes, other apparel, sports equipment, beds, bedding and other furniture)

And let's be sure not to forget the opportunity available to sell the meetings manager on next year and/or future years board and regional meetings, incentive trips and even pre and post convention events. That is the time to do it - - right then, at the moment the meetings manager has committed.

Meetings Manager Push Back

Some will argue that the meetings manager of 2011 is cutting back on "frills" such as final dinner banquets, heavy audio-visual requirements and off-site events and to push for incremental sales after perhaps long negotiations does carry certain risks. The meetings manager might seize that opportunity to ask for some or all of those items to be "thrown in" at no extra charge.

A competent sales associate would respond that the buyer's shopping cart merely includes items the meetings manager might overlook or would most likely purchase later on while finalizing details with the hotel's conference service manager.

Should the meetings manager continue to push, the hotel sales associate would explain that these shopping cart items represent merely additional options for consideration and, furthermore, to reopen contract negotiations would risk increasing the already agreed upon room rate. Should the meetings manager push further, the hotel sales associate may wind up throwing in one of the items at no extra charge or simply end the discussion and move on.

The point here is that chances are the meetings manager will select some, perhaps many on that shopping cart list. And because those items were presented – - at the most optimum time - - the hotel may receive incremental revenue that might have been lost for good. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Remember the power the buyer feels at the time of making the purchase. No better time than when the checkbook is out and the check is being written.

About David Brudney & Associates

David M. Brudney has become a charter member of Laguna Strategic Advisors and was a founding member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants. Brudney is a veteran sales-and-marketing professional concluding his fifth decade of service to the hospitality industry. Brudney advises lodging owners, lenders, asset managers and operators about hotel sales and marketing best practices and standards of care, and conducts reviews of sales-and-marketing operations throughout the world. Brudney is a professional speaker, teacher, mentor and sales trainer. Previously, Brudney held sales and marketing positions with Hyatt, Westin and Marriott.

Contact:  David M. Brudney, Principal
David Brudney & Associates
Carlsbad, CA 92009
Phone:  760-994-9266
Email David Brudney
Web Site:   www.DavidBrudney.com

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