So how does your event team specifically win the 2020 Republican National Convention?
The short answer: the sales team and the service team must play well together.
And that can be tricky. Let’s face it, the sales team cares about the numbers and the service team cares about delivering outstanding customer service throughout the length of the contract, which can be several years.
In other words, the event services team is the face of their properties, working with clients and rebooking business, which is why they need to be an integral part of the sales cycle from the beginning.
The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority understands. Their sales and service teams started courting the Republican National Committee years in advance to secure the 2020 national convention.
The sales and service teams assembled an epic site visit for the delegates, from scheduling greeters to meet the visitors at the airport before they got to their transportation, to custom welcome letters from elected officials, to securing an exclusive meal at Bank of America headquarters and a visit to the Charlotte Motor Speedway. From their extensive knowledge of the area, the sales and service teams together carefully crafted an agenda to showcase the city and the entire region.
“Every movement was on key. They knew that we knew what we were doing,” said Beth Butler, director of destination services, Visit Charlotte.
‘They Saw Collaboration’
“The leadership could not stop talking about how impressed they were that the region and the city of Charlotte wanted their business,” said Ned Blair, senior national sales manager, Visit Charlotte. “They saw the collaboration, not just at the business level and leadership level, but within our office and within all the different components. They knew by the end of that visit that Charlotte wanted their business.”
This level of teamwork helped the city of Charlotte secure the bid for the 2020 Republican Convention., the so-called “Superbowl of meetings.”
“I call it buying confidence,” said Blair. “When a customer comes into your hotel, they are going to meet the general manager, the executive chef and housekeeping. They are meeting everyone that is going to touch that piece of business. There’s no reason you can’t do that for a destination. The more people they meet within the destination, as well as within each hotel if they are doing a city-wide, is going to make them more comfortable and confident in moving forward. That collaborative effort is what you are going to do to win [the business.] When we collaborate and work together, we will win the opportunities, or we will make it darn difficult for them not to come to Charlotte.”
Sales and service together made the case for tourism in Charlotte, which helps the service professionals. “Now there is this recognition of the value of tourism with the recruitment of major events like the RNC and many sporting events that tourism here is valuable,” said Butler. “I really think it starts with advocacy and it is something as simple as a tourism fact sheet and making sure our partners in tourism are armed with the numbers of how many tax dollars our residents saved because of tourism and how many jobs it impacts.”
Bringing Sales and Service Together
Bringing sales and service together needs to be done intentionally. At Visit KC headquarters, the sales team was on one floor and the services team was on a different one. However, they rearranged to sit next to each other so they could develop closer relationships and work together on the front end of each sale.
When selling a destination, it is critical that the sales team bring the services team in from the beginning. This way the potential client can meet their service professional at the beginning and the relationship can develop at the start of the event sale.
The services team also can be an invaluable resource for the sales team.
In hotels and convention centers, service managers know how set ups will work, can speak more thoroughly on catering, function rooms, accessibility and other questions planners may have during a site visit. At CVB’s, service professionals recommend restaurants, tours, transportation and more that will be useful to the client while they are in town. The service professional needs to have their finger on the pulse of the city and know which vendors they can recommend to the client. These recommendations all have an impact on the client’s experience and impression of the destination, which impacts return business.
Without guidance from the services team, the sales team can oversell or overpromise, which leaves the service team scrambling to figure out how they are going to meet the deliverables of the contract with the resources available to them.
When services are involved from the beginning of the sales cycle, clients meet the services team who offer education to the client at the beginning of the process to manage expectations from the start. This way, the client, sales and service are all on the same page from the start.
“You think about your relationships with your co-workers and everyone you have to work with,” said Blair. “You work to build those relationships ahead of time and you do things together ahead of time [ahead of a big event] so when you find yourself fighting on another front on another day, you’ve got a relationship to pull from. You’ve got a family.”