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Hotels: The Key To Booking More Catering Sales

Michael Attias Mar 12, 2015

I know what you’re thinking. Hotels? How can I book more catering jobs because of hotels?

Not only do you get one strategy to book more catering via hotels, this week you’ll get two proven strategies. 

Let me illustrate with two different stories. 

When I owned Corky’s, we did quite a lot of catering to area hotels. To be more specific; we catered meals at hotels to groups renting meeting space. 

Many hotel chains have done away with kitchens, restaurants and all the associated overhead. They focus on rooms and offer meeting spaces for smaller meetings and events. 

Though the hotel may not offer food, their guests booking the meeting space still need food for breakfasts, luncheons, afternoon snacks and dinners. That’s where you come in. 

When a hotel that does not offer food books a meeting space, their clients will often ask for recommendations. A hotel is primarily interested in a caterer that won’t embarrass them. They must be easy to do business with, show up on time, leave nothing off an order, and make sure there is plenty of food for the guests. 

We had such a good relationship with some of the area hotels, we knew exactly where and how they wanted meals set up. They referred their clients to us because the food was good and we made them look good. 

It never hurt that we occasionally brought out food for the hotel staff.

Devote one afternoon to building a list of all the area hotels that offer meeting space, but do not offer catering. Our members-only website, www.RestaurantProfitPoint.com has some letters/promotions you can use to get in with these hotels. 

Members: Click below to see the templates:

http://www.restaurantprofitpoint.com/members/department56.cfm 

When you get in front of the hotel general managers, make sure you focus on their needs. Take the time to learn what they’re currently doing. Ask what they do and do not like about their current caterers. 

Some hotels will want a rebate or discount. You’ll find some wanting to handle taking the catering orders and then call you to coordinate. 

Make sure you are flexible to gain this repeat source of valuable catering sales.

We would create co-branded catering menus for the hotels we worked with. This allowed them to have something to show their clients.

Now on to my second hotel story. 

I picked up a trick years ago from a hotel salesperson. To find prospects to book rooms and meeting space, they will walk into the lobbies of their competitors and read the welcome boards. Those boards welcome the groups and companies in the hotel. They usually have the room they’re meeting in listed as well. 

In college, one of my best friends Mark Moskowitz and I started a bartending service called Gentleman Bartenders. It was a great little business as we went through school.

One day we decided to use the hotel salesperson trick. So we walked into an East Memphis hotel to read the boards, but ended up running into someone who worked with International Paper (the name tag gave it away). 

Luckily we were too green to know better and not afraid to talk to a complete stranger.

That hallway connection turned into some bartending gigs for International Paper and an entrée to the Memphis State meeting facility. The facility ended up hiring us out for some of their events.

I’m not advocating you walk into a hotel looking for someone to talk with, but a company name on a marquee can be a great lead source.

The same companies booking meetings have other events that need catering.

Half the equation to booking more catering is to find the catering decision makers in your market. As far as I’m concerned. That’s the hard part. 

Now you have two great “hotel” techniques to build your catering sales. Go get busy booking some catering jobs!  

NOTE: Last year I put on a full day catering seminar in Baltimore with one of my most successful clients and longtime member, Frank D’Antona with Cantina Mamma Lucia in Baltimore, Maryland. We had to turn people away last year.

One attendee, Vince with Trinacria credits us with his best catering Christmas season. He did over a hundred thousand dollars in catering for December 2014 versus $12,000 in 2013.

Saval Foodservice is sponsoring the event this year. It will be held Monday, May 18, 2015 near the Baltimore airport. 

So if you have any interest, please go to www.CateringSeminars.com/baltimore for complete details. Hope you can join us. 

Well, that’s all for this issue. 

To Your Restaurant's Marketing & Catering Success, 

Michael Attias

Restaurant Catering Software

P.S. – If you need help growing catering sales, then please go to www.RestaurantCateringSoftware.com and download my free eBook: Cater or Die!

P.P.S. – I make a limited number of time slots available each week for a free Catering Strategy Session with me. (You also get a catering menu critique and free analysis of your website for “Catering Effectiveness”). For complete details and to grab one of the limited spots, please go to:

http://www.restaurantcateringsoftware.com/catering-planning-strategy-session 

P.P.P.S. – Please check out my podcast at www.RestaurantCateringSmarts.com

P.P.P.P.S. - Anyone wishing to reprint my articles may do so. Please email me for the bi-line to use for proper author’s credits.

Topics: catering, catering marketing, catering niches, catering software quote module, catering sales templates, Catering to hotels, catering leads

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