Melbourne Food & Wine Festival’s Wicked Sunday: A missed marketing opportunity?

AKA – How to Stand Out in a Crowd

 

Coffee, gelati, coffee, cupcakes, coffee, coffee machines, coffee, gelati, cheese, coffee, coffee, gelati, cupcakes, biscuits, coffee.

That was the make-up of today’s Wicked Sunday at the 2009 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

 

Heaven! A coffee and cake festival – how much more Melbourne can you get? Even the weather smiled today, happy to celebrate in a grey sort of way that is also very Melbourne.

Coffee Cup

 

It was crowded, a free event often is, but I couldn’t help thinking that too few stands took the opportunity to engage with the community that had gathered. Too focused on just being an extension of their regular retail presence, many stands treated the festival as a transaction instead of a conversation.

 

Personally, I had been looking forward to having all these purveyors in the same vicinity. As a devotee of Jock’s Ice-Cream I rarely wander off the beaten track that is worn between my house and the store in Albert Park. So thinking that I would be able to sample some of the other local and regional gelati makers, I made my way in to Federation Square.

 

Disappointment!

 

I guess that I was expecting something like a harvest picnic, with samples available to try-before-you-buy. Sadly, this was not the case. Whilst all coffee stalls offered a cup at a flat rate of $2, the cakes and gelati stalls appeared to offer their regular prices. We did purchase so we could eat, drink and be merry, but I didn’t get the opportunity to sample, compare and explore new tastes. This lack of opportunity for me also translates into a lost opportunity for the stall holders to reach out to a new customer.

 

With so many competitors in a confined space, you need you stand out and create some buzz around your product. Here are my ideas based on my customer experience today.

 

Free Samples

Free samples don’t have to be anything more than a taste. A lick, sliver, slice or sip delivers you the same taste sensation for your product without satiating the full desire. And it leaves your customer wanting more! Of course you need to be willing to allow your product to be compared to the others on offer. However, if you are confident that your product is the best, let people compare and they will come back and buy.  

 

A full size cone (coffee or cake) that fills you up can be a good exclusionary tactic that prevents someone going to your competitor. I certainly didn’t need another coffee after my first one, so I wandered past the 12 other stands that were just making coffee. In a competitive environment such as a food festival where there are 5 or 10 other people selling the same thing as you, you need to give people a reason to stop and check you out.

 

More than just creating greater consumer awareness on the day, during a sample exchange you get to talk to the customer, engage them and invite them to take the next step with you. That might be an immediate upgrade to a full size right now, or to purchase an item to take home, or an invitation to come to your regular premises. And more people are likely to do that because you have reached out to them, enticed them, conversed with them.

 

$2 Cap on Everything

I knew in advance that all the coffee stalls would be offering their wares at a flat rate of $2. A local café was taking part and had been promoting the event from their store leading up to the event. It had however set an expectation that there would be similar offerings from everyone else.

 

A $2 cap actually promotes the sense of a bargain for the customer. How many times do you walk out of a $2 Shop having only spent two dollars? In this festival environment, it would also help promote the idea of sampling all that was on offer. Offer less for less, and people often buy more, they still think of it as a bargain!

 

Joint Ventures

One coffee stall that managed to stand out from the rest had a joint venture going with another store from their neighbourhood. (Obviously sharing a stall also reduces your costs.) This one combined coffee with grooves, and helped cross-promote each other’s uniqueness. Something else that they did really well was get out from behind the coffee counter, went into the crowd, and took orders on the coffee cups from the people passing.

 

Other possible joint ventures could have been between the coffee and cake stands; capturing the customer in one place with this traditional pairing. There were also some coffee machine retailers with stands, they could have paired with a coffee stall already using their machines to help direct customers to their lonely looking tents. Cheese & wine, coffee & cake, coffee & cake, coffee & cake (there were heaps of coffee stands!)

 

Competitions/Database/Fans & Followers

I didn’t see one stall offering a competition. A couple of places were offering you a place on their mailing list, but with no incentives, very few seemed to be taking up the offer. To me this seems like the most wasted opportunity. Whether it was a constraint placed on the stall holders by the event planners, I’m not sure, (I’ll investigate further), but to me this would be a perfect opportunity to grow you following, and be able to reconnect in the future.

 

And with so much passing traffic, what a perfect spot to promote your twitter presence! Or facebook? Shoot a short video to go on YouTube, take photo’s for Flickr? If you are too busy to have a conversation at the festival or fair, make sure you can have it in the future.

 

Special Mentions

St Ali – for engaging with the crowds by demonstrating and sharing samples from their Hario Syphon Filter Demonstration

Obscura & White Rabbit  – for their JV of coffee & grooves (but where were the rabbit ears?) 

 

Success

Based on crowd numbers, and participants, I’m sure that the event will be declared a success. But for many stall holders, how will you measure that success? That you sold out on the day? Or that you have x number of new regulars supporting your product all year round?

 

I look forward now to next year’s event,

Cheers,

Tracy Tormai

 

Twitter + Hospitality = Customers!

Great article about how one coffee shop is using Twitter to double its client base! You can Direct Message your order from the comfort of your WiFi position in the cafe – how is that for service! See the full article here http://ping.fm/wPYi2

Ryanair considers charging for toilet use…

What next?!?

I suddenly have visions of us all having to flap our arms, Flintstones style, to get the plane off the ground!

Read the article here where Ryanair considers charging for toilet use .

It’s not (just) what you say…

He got up wearily from the table he was sitting at. He smiled and welcomed us, but I could tell he was just going through the motions. He lacked energy. It felt as if today it was an imposition to order our regular breakfast. If it wasn’t already a weekly ritual for us, I wonder if I would have even bothered ordering, or ever coming back.

 

Wow, I hadn’t even realised that I took all that in yesterday when I went to our favourite breakfast joint for a really yummy scrambled eggs (and GREAT coffee). It is amazing what we can pick up on the non-verbal plane. Every Monday I start the week with a lovely breakfast and a planning session at this cafe. I think that with the credit crunch, a lot of local places are beginning to feel the effect. And that’s what I feel is starting to show with this owner. His verve and energy is evaporating. And so is his welcome and warmth. The effect is that he is not inviting anymore and of course with that gone, so too go the customers.

 

You’ve probably heard that communication is made up of the words you use 7%, how you say something 38% and 55% comes from our body language. Depending on whether you are talking to your guest over the phone or face to face will determine the importance of the non-verbal. However, your physiology affects your psychology. This simply means that your posture affects your mood. Try slumping over your desk just now and put your head in your hands, and notice how this affects your thoughts and your mood. Things seem to slow down,… drag,… flatten,… depress… OK, enough of that! Sit up straight again, shoulders back, and smile 🙂 All this means that even over the phone, body language is still important even if it is not seen, it is still heard. Smiling makes you friendlier; standing makes you more commanding and authoritative, arms uncrossed make you more welcoming.

 

Here is a simple checklist to determine the importance of each aspect of these 3 categories. 

 

Words

The words we use are important. Used with volition you can create a sequence that leads your caller to do your bidding. On the phone, these words become more important. 

  • Open ended questions
  • Positive
  • Fully finished (i.e. not mumbled or slurred in to each other)
  • Correct not slang (yes not yeah)

How you say it

Just as we want to be aware of the words that we use so that they produce positive internal representations in our guests mind, it is important to be aware of how we say things, the variations of the tone and other aspects listed below.

  • Tone
  • Pitch
  • Timbre
  • Speed/Rhythm
  • Articulation
  • Resonance
  • Nasality
  • Accent
  • Intonation/Stress
  • Emotion

 

Body Language

Finally, the all important non-verbal aspect of our communication. 

  • Personal Appearance – clothing, hairstyle, tidiness
  • Gestures
  • Eye contact
  • Facial Expressions
  • Posture – direction of lean, body orientation, arm position, and body openness

 

Just remember to be congruent with our communication; physiologically, verbally and intent. Body language and how we sound needs to match what we say. That means that we cannot have low energy and lackluster posture when we are trying to get someone excited about the prospect of staying at the hotel or eating in the restaurant.

 

To attract customers, you need to be attractive.

Cheers,
Tracy 
 

The “Yes-Frame”

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Never, never, never assume”? or “Assume makes an ASS out of U and ME”? And yet we still make assumptions, instead of asking that can easily become questions that help maintain your client in a “Yes-Frame“.

A “Yes-Frame” is simply a series of questions that get your caller into the practice of saying “Yes”. A Yes frame of mind, so to speak. It is important because when the time comes for the caller to answer Yes to the most important question of the call, “Would you like to book that now?” they are well rehearsed. And the easiest way to achieve a “Yes-Frame” is by asking questions and not making assumptions.

Consider this example. It’s the before shot.

Agent: “Is that for just one night?” Caller: “No, three.”

Agent: “Just one person?” Caller: “No, with my husband.”

Agent: “And you’ll be flying in?” Caller: “No, we drive, our daughter died in a plane crash”

What sort of a head space do you think you have led your caller into? A positive one? I don’t think so… And each time the caller said “No”, what was being reinforced? “No!”

And “No” is where you have led the caller’s focus. You’ve got them in the habit of saying “No” so that when you ask the next question, that’s what they’ll want to answer, no? And when you get to the most important question of the call, asking for the sale, they will be well practised in saying “No”.

I think I’ve said “No” too many times now. That’s not where I want our focus to be. Time to get us back into a “Yes-Frame“!

Instead, we want the internal representations, the pictures, sounds, feelings that we are creating in the other person to be positive. When you make assumptions, you have less control over these internal pictures and feelings, than by simply asking questions. Simple questions to elicit transactional information can keep the conversation neutral until the caller gives you a hook. Then latch on!

Agent: “Howmany nights are you booking?” Caller: “Three.”

Agent: “And howmany adults and children are staying?” Caller: “Two adults.”

Agent: “How will you be arriving at the hotel?”  Caller: “We will be driving.”

Now we have something to work on! A conversation can actually occur now, quite naturally based on these answers. “Will you be driving far? We have a comfortable one bedroom suite that would suit a longer stay such as yours. And it has a spa so you can wash away all the driving aches so you are refreshed to start your stay. Are you travelling for leisure or on business?” As you become more adept at this, you start to see a pattern occur – pace, pace, lead – that enables you linguistically to get more sales, at better rates.

 The magic of the “Yes-Frame“, combined with pace, pace, lead is that you get the caller to start thinking about the benefits of staying with you, as opposed to the reasons why they shouldn’t.

All that being said, there is one thing, and only one thing that you should assume at all times – the sale! Stay tuned for the upcoming article – Assumption Gumption!

For now, all you have to remember and practise is asking questions that elicit a YES response.

Cheers!

Tracy

Why blog about Selling Hotel Rooms?

Selling Hotel Rooms (SHR) is different from selling a tangible product in a shop. It is also different from selling a product or service where there is a long courtship between the sales manager and the client. In SHR, you are often selling a one off experience with no “tangible aspects” to take home (unless the guests have light fingers!). What they take home instead is either good or bad memories.

So, SHR is a specialised skill. In the space of a short phone call, you have to turn what the caller thinks is “just an enquiry” into a booking, and generally in less than 3 minutes.

This specialised skill requires rapid rapport building; a skill that will enable you to keep the caller on the call long enough to promote the benefits of staying at your hotel.

This specialised skill means that you need to discover what the caller needs to know, rather than what they think they need to know.

And this specialised skill means that first impressions count! The way in which you answer each phone call, your team’s professionalism during that first call, sets the tone for the guest’s stay with you. During this first call you are creating expectations as to what their stay will be like.

So as a 20-year-plus vetran of the hospitality industry, and someone who has been helping people buy what they want (and need) since the age of 15, I’m blogging about Selling Hotel Rooms because I love helping people have a great experience – and if I help you on the frontline, help guests have a great experience, then I know that more and more people are having fun and exciting holidays, comfortable and friendly away-from-home encounters, professional and enjoyable business trips, and inevitably happy memories to take home and share with others.

Please subscribe to this blog for ongoing tips and secrets to Selling Hotel Rooms for a busy and buzzing hotel.

The Universal Sales Belief

There are a number of beliefs that you can have when you are selling something, but the one I want to gift to you today is the one I call, The Universal Sales Belief.

If you are serious about getting people to stay with you, and filling your beds night after night, then please feel free to adopt this belief as your own. The belief, once fully embraced, is your key to NO Vacancy.

The Universal Sales Belief is: Everyone who calls, or walks in to your hotel, wants to stay with you.

That’s right, EVERYONE wants to buy from you.

It seems simple, but when you really believe it, and own it, you’ll be amazed by what it does to your bottom line. Or even more importantly, the number of bums in beds!

Just think about it. If someone has picked up the phone, or hopped out of their car and walked into reception, then these potential guests have already made their buying decision. They have made the effort to come to you. All you need to do now is reassure them that they have made the right choice – your product knowledge, exceptional (special) service and delivering to their needs and wants will persuade them to stay with you.

Once you have owned The Universal Sales Belief, and you genuinely believe that your hotel will accommodate their needs, you are actually denying them the experience of your hospitality if you don’t actually sell it to them. If your product matches their needs and desires, you are doing your guests a dis-service if you don’t help them stay with you.

Beliefs are numerous, choose ones that help achieve your goals.

Stay tuned for “Your mindset is your biggest sales asset”.