Eric Blanc, CMP, is a tenured professional with more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He is currently the president of Convention Sales Professionals International and the director of sales, marketing and convention services for the Tampa Convention Center located in Tampa, Florida. He is a graduate of Florida State University with a bachelor of science in business and marketing.
More often than not in the convention industry, there are hard lines that separate sales from services. Finding ourselves in a new era of meetings where budgets are unpredictable, a heavy emphasis must be placed on streamlining operations and creating efficiencies wherever possible. As a result of this new environment, it is imperative for professionals in both sales and services roles to collaborate and embrace each other’s strengths to achieve success.
From the convention center and Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) perspective, there are many of us who recently took a hard look at our available resources and discovered that sales and services could have higher close rates and operate more efficiently and cost-effectively if they worked together rather than as separate entities. Traditionally, each has excelled in their roles often completely independent of each other. Sales works hard to bring the meeting to the destination by proactively prospecting, networking and tailoring pricing for meeting planner customers. Services excels in seeing the meeting through to the end, partnering with the meeting planner to ensure all details of a meeting are executed to client expectations.
By blurring the lines between sales and service, we force ourselves to see the meeting from the planner’s point of view. It doesn’t matter what kind of meeting is being planned, having a cohesive team that knows what their venue is capable of accomplishing and its unique features is one that is naturally going to make a planner’s life easier and increase their success rates. In a competitive environment, anything that serves as a differentiator cannot be overlooked. A destination team that clearly demonstrates collaboration between sales professionals and event service managers can be the differentiator if used properly during the sales process. For example, the service professional adds insight and creativity regarding specific factors such as food and beverage, flow and space placement if brought along on a site visit. The sales team can utilize the team as a key selling point and cultivate a long-term partnership based on performance.
“These economic times demand creative thinking and open minds.”