Most hotels focus the majority of their sales efforts on filling guest rooms night to night. But an often overlooked and underutilized profit center lies just beyond the guest rooms - catering sales for meetings, events, weddings, and more.
Savvy hoteliers are ramping up their catering sales strategies to tap into this significant revenue stream that exists outside of room bookings. They understand that promoting their event venue spaces and on-site catering can attract a steady stream of lucrative group business.
In this article, we will explore proven techniques to revamp your hotel's catering sales operations. You will discover strategies to target key market segments, develop attractive packages, market your unique venue attributes, implement CRM tracking, upsell existing clients, and optimize staffing.
Let's uncover the enormous revenue potential waiting to be unlocked via enhanced catering sales efforts.
- Catering can drive substantial revenue outside of room bookings
- Take a targeted approach to the most lucrative market segments
- Develop attractive bundled packages for events and meetings
- Focus on promoting your unique venue attributes
- Implement CRM to track event sales opportunities
- Utilize upselling tactics with existing meeting clients
Table of Contents
The Powerful Potential of Hotel Catering Sales
Most hotels are sitting on underutilized gold mines - event spaces and on-site catering services. Consider the substantial profits available from corporate events, business meetings, weddings, social gatherings, holiday parties, and more.
Hotel meeting rooms and event venues typically see sporadic demand leaving gaps in occupancy. Meanwhile, catering services frequently operate at low capacity during non-peak meal times.
By ramping up sales efforts, hotels can fill more of this availability by promoting their spaces and services to attract lucrative group bookings. This provides year-round revenue in addition to room sales.
Some key statistics on the power of catering sales:
- Meeting/event space can be rented at 5x to 10x the price of a standard guest room
- 50-person group booking equals revenue of 40+ room nights
- Catering packages allow high per-head margins, especially on alcohol
- Minimum event space and F&B spending frequently required
Unlocking this substantial revenue begins with implementing a more strategic and well-planned catering sales strategy.
Key Strategies for Maximizing Event Sales
Use these best practices to boost your catering sales results:
Target the Most Lucrative Market Segments
Analyze past event bookings and current inquiries to identify the most profitable market segments for your property. Most hotels find the best potential in:
- Corporate retreats and meetings
- Social events - weddings, reunions, anniversary parties
- Holiday parties from businesses and organizations
- Educational/training workshops and seminars
- Industry trade shows and exhibitions
Create lead-generation initiatives targeted to these high-value segments.
Develop Attractive Bundled Packages
Bundle meeting space, catering, A/V services, and guest rooms into packaged deals for common events. Examples include:
- All-day corporate retreat package
- Holiday party package (includes 2 drink tickets pp)
- Wedding reception package
These turnkey packages make it easy for planners. Offer tiered options at different price points.
Promote Your Unique Venue Attributes
Understand your property's competitive advantages as an event venue. Play up unique attributes like:
- Panoramic views
- Outdoor garden spaces
- State-of-the-art A/V systems
- Renowned on-site restaurant
- Flexible floorplans
- Close proximity to major attractions
These details attract planners to your property over alternatives.
Implement CRM Tracking
Use a CRM system to track catering sales leads, follow up status, and manage pipeline. Log all inquiries and input key details - type of event, date, budget, contacts, notes, etc. Set up automated lead nurturing workflows triggered by status changes. This allows you to run an organized, metrics-driven sales operation.
Utilize Upselling Tactics
Once you land a meeting or event, immediately leverage it to upsell additional services. Push upgrades like:
- Renting additional breakout rooms
- Increased F&B minimum
- Hosted cocktails, breakfasts, dinners
- Extended rental hours
- A post-meeting reception
Often groups will tackle add-ons once securely booked.
Marketing Your Hotel's Event Venue Spaces
A key pillar is promoting your spaces to bring in inquiries. Use these marketing best practices:
- Spotlight meeting rooms on your website - details, photos, floorplans
- Create brochures for distribution to planners
- Run social media and PPC ads targeted to event planners
- Partner with local CVBs and event agencies
- Host open houses to showcase your property
- Attend wedding expos and corporate events to make connections
- Obtain certified designations - AAA Diamond, Cvent, etc.
This multifaceted outreach plants seeds with planners to drive catering RFPs.
Managing Catering Sales Leads and Prospects
Approach lead management strategically by
- Recording all inquiries and details in your CRM
- Scoring leads based on value criteria
- Setting up automated lead nurturing campaigns
- Responding promptly and providing quotes
- Making personal outreach to hot prospects
- Tracking response times and lead outcomes
- Analyzing results to optimize conversion
Organized, prompt follow-up helps you convert more leads into booked events.
Driving Repeat and Referral Business
Satisfied event customers are the best source of repeat and referral sales.
- Gather testimonials and reviews from past clients
- Send thank you cards and event recaps
- Offer special discounts for rebooking
- Ask clients if they can provide referrals or testimonials
This fosters loyalty while also generating strong word-of-mouth promotion.
Optimizing Staffing and Operations
- Hire catering salespeople with hospitality/event experience
- Train staff thoroughly on services, spaces, and tech
- Set up streamlined processes to respond to RFPs
- Maintain venue spaces, inventory, and equipment
- Conduct pre-event walkthroughs and provide on-site staff
- Send post-event surveys to identify areas for improvement
With the right staff and operations, you can flawlessly execute events.
Most hotels neglect their on-site catering capabilities, missing out on significant incremental revenue from meetings, events, weddings, and group functions.
By taking a strategic approach to promoting your event venue spaces and catering services, hotels can tap into a powerful profit center independent of room bookings.
Utilize targeted sales tactics, packaged bundles, marketing initiatives, CRM organization, upselling, and stellar operations to unlock this potential. Contact Emersion Wellness today to have one of our revenue generation experts assess your catering sales opportunities and revamp your strategy to maximize event-driven profits.
Q: What are the most profitable types of events for hotels?
A: Corporate meetings, weddings, holiday parties, reunions, seminars/trainings, and trade shows offer the highest potential. Target sales efforts on these segments. Analyze your booking history and current inquiries to identify the specific market segments yielding the highest revenues for your property.
Q: How can I get more corporate event leads?
A: Promote your meeting spaces and tech on your website, run LinkedIn ads targeted to event planners, distribute brochures, partner with local CVBs, and attend Chamber events. Dedicate website pages to showcasing your venues. Maintain an event planner e-newsletter for promotions. Reach out to past corporate clients to get referrals to similar companies.
Q: What should I include in catering sales packages?
A: Offer tiered bundles with meeting space, F&B, A/V, and option add-ons like additional rooms, bar service, upgraded menus, etc. Simplify for planners. Make sure to include detailed information on room and space capacities, layouts, included tech/equipment, catering menus, and minimum F&B spend requirements. Offer 3 tiers of packages at different price points appropriate to your market.
Q: How much commission should I offer to third-party event planners?
A: A 10% commission on F&B is common. Offer higher commissions (15%) if they drive high-value corporate groups. Apply commissions only to planners who bring significant booked revenue. Put commission policies in writing when establishing relationships with planners. Require planners to bring a minimum of $20,000 in annual booked catering revenue to qualify for commissions.
Q: What technological capabilities do planners expect?
A: Fast, reliable WiFi throughout all event space, ample power outlets, HDMI/VGA inputs, sound systems, digital signage, web conferencing ability, and lighting controls. Survey planners on which tech capabilities are must-haves vs. nice-to-haves. Prioritize investments in tech that are considered expected and standard for your market tier.
Q: What sales tactics produce the best ROI?
A: Promoted social media ads targeted locally, crafting meeting packages, participating in wedding expos, and leveraging referrals from past clients. Track lead sources, conversion rates, and revenue on all sales initiatives. Cut ineffective tactics that aren't yielding results. Optimize marketing spending on the initiatives delivering the highest ROI.
Q: How far in advance should I market availability?
A: 6-12 months for weddings, 3-6 months for corporate. Utilize website calendars to indicate open dates. Post key dates for the coming year during the current year to capture bookings well in advance. Allow real-time online booking of meeting space to incentivize advance commitments.
Q: How much should I discount off-peak season events?
A: Avoid discounting more than 15% off peak. Instead offer value-adds like free A/V rental, welcome cocktails, or upgraded menus. Analyze your seasonality patterns and set strategic rates. Maintain a minimum of 80% of peak pricing for shoulder seasons. Discount deeper for off-off-peak dates but cap at 20% max discounts.
Q: What should I do if demand exceeds my space capacity?
A: Maintain relationships by recommending nearby venues. Seek overflow deals where you handle catering. Identify 3-5 partner venues you trust to handle overflow bookings. Contract rates with them in advance. Set up referral fee agreements if you send bookings their way.
For more information contact us!
I'm Nathan Baws, a nutrition nerd, exercise and weight loss expert, and an unwavering advocate for good health. As the founder of Emersion Wellness, I'm passionate about crafting Seamless Weight Loss Programs to supercharge hotel revenue and transform lives. We've pioneered the World's First Plug & Play Weight Loss Programs for top hotels and resorts, sparking a wellness revolution. Beyond my professional journey, you'll often find me hiking, swimming, and riding the waves, embracing every moment in nature. Join me on this exhilarating journey towards diet, health and wellness.