But knowing why changes everything.
Let’s face it: The first time someone broke up with you was an earth-shattering moment. Life as you knew it was out the window, replaced by long, dark days in Algebra class where, it just so happened, you and your ex sat next to each other. The question I would always ask myself (and yes, it happened more than once), was simply, “Why? Why don't you like me? What did I do wrong? And why didn't I think of this when I was picking my seat in algebra class?”
I'm grateful that she finally told me why. I may not have liked her answer, but in some small way, knowing that she didn't groove on my feathered hair and white-washed jeans gave me an opportunity for some closure. (And the opportunity for a new haircut.)
Rejection is part of life. But knowing why is always better than wondering why.
In your role as a meeting planner, you face rejection each and every day. Whether you’re the rejector – “We’re going with a different hotel” – or the rejectee – “Sorry Ms. Planner, we have no availability for your meeting” – rejection is part of the job.
Too often though, we see rejection as a one-step process instead of a great opportunity to improve our chances the next time. It’s also an opportunity to clarify what we know. Case in point: You send out your meeting request to five hotels, and three hotels come back with “No Availability.” You really wanted to book with one of those hotels. Instead of assuming that hotel is sold out, call up the sales manager and ask the following question: “Hi, Hotel Sales Manager, I see that you don’t have availability for my meeting. Is it my meeting space that’s the issue?”
The reason you tee it up this way is to engage the salesperson and get the real answer. I know what you’re thinking, “Why don’t they just tell me what they have available, instead of telling me they don’t have availability?” Three reasons they don’t do this:
- RFP Spam. Sales teams are getting crushed by leads that never book. They spend hours just trying to respond. It might be that your meeting request was caught up in the giant hairball that salespeople are dealing with.
- “I’m not flexible." I spoke at a meeting planner event recently and asked the attendees how many put those three words in their meeting request. Nearly all said they did. As a planner, you should never say this. Leading with “I’m not flexible” actually limits your options; plus, hotels that know you can be even a little flexible can offer you something special. Who knows, the offer may be too good to refuse!
- Space-to-Rooms Ratio: Every hotel has a different Space-to-Rooms Ratio — the amount of space your meeting uses for every guest room you occupy. In order to get the best possible deal, your meeting space should stay within the hotel’s Space-to-Rooms Ratio. When hotels decline RFPs, it’s not personal – it’s likely a space issue. So feel free to ask up-front for each hotel’s ratio to better understand their expectations. Learn more about the Space-to-Rooms Ratio and how to make it work for you.
One final point: The same rules apply when you’re the rejector and are turning down hotels. Be forthright and honest right up front as to why. And if they take the time to call you, please take the time to help them understand the reasons. No one likes rejection, but closure really helps. (Even if you're rejecting their feathered hair.) It will go a long way in building a great relationship and helping them improve for the next time you send them an RFP.
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