A True Sales Story With Parallels For Booking Indian Weddings

A friend of mine recently embarked on the process of booking a vacation. This was a once-in-a-lifetime and pretty expensive trip. Being businesswomen, my friend shared all the details with me, of what it was like to work with tour vendors to acquire quotes.

As I listened to her I couldn’t help but draw parallels with booking a venue for an Indian wedding. After all, weddings are also big ticket, once-in-a-lifetime events.

My friend reached out to about ten different tour companies via email. In her email to each company she gave them a detailed outline of what she wanted to see and did not want to see, potential travel dates, and her dietary restrictions.

The responses she received varied:

  • canned responses with tour outlines and quotes
  • tour details with no cost info
  • some companies took more than 48 hours to respond
  • 1 company responded back with questions
  • 1 company scheduled a call with her
  • NOT a single company addressed her dietary restrictions
  • Some of the tour packages she received included areas that she had specified that she didn’t want to visit

Listening vs. Telling vs. Guiding: One company wrote back, telling her that she was wrong to exclude one site because “it’s an absolute “must”! That tour operator proceeded to include that site in his proposal. Perhaps a better approach would have been to ask her why she excluded that area to begin with – listen first and then guide and provide insight accordingly?


The Importance of Asking Questions: My friend is headed to Africa and interestingly, not a single company asked her, “Have you been to Africa before?” If they had, it would have changed the entire interaction because they would have realized that since she had already been to Africa, some areas on this trip may have seemed redundant to her.


{The Best Salespeople…And The Rest}

Whether it’s tour operators or Catering Sales Managers I think it’s a natural tendency to assume your customers are a clean slate. The assumption is that customers don’t know anything about booking a wedding venue. And that’s probably a good assumption for the most part.

BUT….really really good salespeople would have picked up on the cues:

  • she sent a detailed itinerary of what she wanted to see (indicating that she’s not a novice and has done her homework).
  • specifics on what she didn’t want to see (how many people do you think do that?!?).
  • exact travel dates (precision).
  • dietary restrictions (important needs that could ruin a trip if not handled properly).

She sent the tour operators useful, precise, and concise details….exactly everything that they needed to know.

The best salespeople would have said to themselves, “hmmm this person seems to have done their homework. They know what they want and gave me really good detailed info. My response should be equally thoughtful.”

{The Expensive Oversight}

My friend shared with me that the tour operators’ responses were in-themselves revealing. She was able to filter through the companies she wanted to interact with further and those that automatically went into the “no” pile.

Wow, automatic rejection. For an Indian wedding those poor responses could cost the venues anywhere from $35,000 to $80,000…that’s a pretty expensive oversight.

{Segmenting Prospects}

I couldn’t help but draw more parallels to booking an Indian wedding venue. Most Catering Sales Managers probably have very different initial conversations with prospective clients who are uncertain:

  • I don’t know my wedding date yet, I’m open to any Saturday from June to August next year
  • I’m looking for anywhere between 350-400 guests
  • We might serve lunch after the ceremony…..maybe not
  • I don’t know my wedding budget

….”so can you give me a quote?”

Hopefully you see the night and day difference between the two customers. One’s already done her homework. The latter needs some help to get educated on how booking a venue works.

So shouldn’t a salesperson’s response reflect these differences? I don’t mean to be flippant with the latter customer but I do mean that the best salespeople will respond to each customer entirely differently.

To the detailed customer, a salesperson might ask questions and gather info vs. with the latter, share info, guide, and educate.

{When The Ideal Prospect Falls From The Sky}

My friend was a great prospective customer. She volunteered all of the info the tour operators needed. They didn’t have to invest a single second on educating her, yet most of them totally blew the opportunity.

Customers that are that thoughtful expect the responses from the venues to be equally thoughtful. And when they’re ignored or railroaded, it’s jarring, because they were expecting to get just as thoughtful responses back.

{Benefits to Catering Sales Managers}

How amazing would it be if every couple that came in your door gave you all the info that you needed on a silver platter? How many hours of your time do you think would be freed? How many more calls would you be able to take? How many more site visits would you be able to do? And how many more leads would you be able to steward? Would you reach your goals faster? Would you get a bigger bonus?

How often does that happen?!? So when it does embrace it and take advantage of it!


{Not Answering Customers’ Questions:
The Empathy Problem}

With regards to the dietary restrictions, my friend had to ask that question again to all of the tour operators; and all they said was, “don’t worry, we’ll be able to accommodate you”….not very convincing, especially for a 14-day trip! This is a problem of empathy.

Only salespeople working at these tour companies who also have dietary restrictions would have responded to the question to begin with, and perhaps had offered any sort of detail.

OR

the best salespeople, would have picked up on that cue and said to themselves,“this is an expensive 14-day trip and of course food is important. They took the time to point out that they’re vegetarian, so I should make sure to really address that and assure them that they’ll have a great experience with us”.

Does that require more effort? You bet it does. So the question is, is it worth it to you?

{Conclusion}

The job of a Catering Sales Manager is an amalgam of so many things – talking to people, listening to people, educating, sharing information, negotiation and closing deals.

This article drew parallels  and lessons from the travel industry that can be applied to your hard work closing Indian weddings. The key thoughts discussed were:

  • listening vs. telling vs. guiding
  • the importance of asking questions
  • reading cues
  • showing empathy

I hope this article has been helpful to you. If you have comments, questions or stories you’d like to share, feel free to post them in the comments below. Follow ShaadiShop on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest – whatever your preferred media is, as we frequently publish articles for venue sales and catering teams.

Schedule a demo to learn more about marketing your venue on ShaadiShop. We offer low investment packages for venues just starting out in Indian weddings as well as options for venues looking to increase marketshare and still options for venues that are knee-deep in Indian weddings seeking consulting and more personalized services.


samta-founder-signature
Samta Varia Founder & CEO ShaadiShop: Indian Wedding Venues

Contact us for info.


{ShaadiShop Testimonials}

“We just booked a full Indian wedding through ShaadiShop at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort. In addition to the business, we appreciate the exposure ShaadiShop creates about our venue, as the couple didn’t know about our resort until ShaadiShop told them about us. Additionally, we appreciate the pre-qualification work that ShaadiShop does to match couples and venues that are a good fit for each other. We had all the info needed to conduct the initial meeting. What a great service for venues to market to the South Asian community!” Angie Florence, Catering Manager at The Waterfront Beach Resort, Huntington Beach, CA


“We’re so glad we joined ShaadiShop to market this hotel to the South Asian community in the Orange County area. Every wedding we close from their leads returns more than 3x our investment. Moreover, they pre-qualify leads and educate consumers creating a much better sales cycle for our catering team. Venues looking to reach this market, join ShaadiShop!” – Ryan Hurd, Catering Sales Manager, Wyndham Anaheim Garden Grove

 


“Shaadishop helped me not only find venues but also understand how they work, the fees, and tips that I wouldn’t have otherwise known. Definitely a need service in the desi community. “ Hinna S., Bride


“Cannot say enough good things about the service from Samta and ShaadiShop who helped us research venues for our wedding this year. We wanted a non-hotel venue, and to get married within 6 months. ShaadiShop immediately found us venues, contacted them and educated us about all the things we needed to think about while selecting a venue. They put all the info together in a fabulous, super impressive, spreadsheet that helped us compare venues – seriously amazing and such a great help. Working with them made the whole stressful process MUCH easier and I can’t believe it was all free! ShaadiShop’s website is fantastic and such a great service for South Asians – so glad I found them!” Anjli S., Bride


“We’re so glad we used ShaadiShop to book our venue. The info on the website is amazing and then they gave us such personalized attention! They were such a valuable resource for selecting venues, helping us understand policies and logistics. Their suggestions saved us a lot money too! They really understood us, what we wanted and helped us get it. AND it’s free! So glad there’s a service like this for South Asians. Awesome that there’s something like this for South Asians!” Janki K., Bride


“I worked with ShaadiShop to find a venue for my daughter’s wedding. The website is easy to use and has so much useful information. ShaadiShop made everything easy for me – getting quotes, suggesting venues, explaining fees and policies. Most importantly, my daughter and son-in-law are happy with the venue. ShaadiShop is a great and service for our community. I’m so glad I found them!” Charu S., Bride’s Mother

 

 

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s