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Fishing Where The Fish Are.
By Rick Welch
Tuesday, 23rd June 2009
 
I always thought that everything you need to become successful in the Hotel business, you already have! So, with that thought in mind I have developed a sales and marketing action plan that will yield immediate results. 

Today we are faced with the dual clouds of war and a sluggish economy. The hotel business is nowhere near a return to what was once considered "normal."  

And many hotels are coming to grips with the idea that "normal," as they remember it, will never return.  So, get over it! 

The profile of our guest has forever changed.  We need to change also, in order to enable us to obtain a greater share of the available market! We cannot create "demand". We can however increase our sales at the expense of our competition. 

The outline I have put together will enable you to maximize your sales and marketing potential without increasing your expenses. It combines the need for a contemporary approach to accessing new technology available to you and the creation of a partnership with the franchiser.  Neither one of you can become successful alone. 

Summary Work to Be Performed:  

ONE:

A)  The Importance of All Your Hotel Reservation System

Your franchise r3eervation system is going to give you your biggest room sales numbers. It all starts and comes back to you recognizing this and involving your regional manager. In our hotel we receive approximately forty percent of our rooms business from our franchise web site. What you doing to deserve that market segment? You cannot do anything until you recognize it a market segment and approach it as you would selling to a local account.

The DOS should report on the action steps taken to improve on these monthly sales numbers. It should be your main distribution channel. To make it work for you, you need to keep accurate numbers and action steps to increase the numbers. What your system and database should have in it is another factor that will increase your sales numbers. If your web site is wrong, you will continue to get poor sales. If you keep up with the site and change it frequently it will produce beyond your wildest dreams.

  • Your last web site audit and what should you check. 
  • Analyzing denials and regrets--the secret weapon.
  • Updating your rates--what are your selling order and most important "do you have a Revenue Manager?
  • Current data and inventory.
  • Fallback rates, rate tiers, and SRP.
  • Brand support (Work them to death; you will probably be in the small minority asking for their help.
  • Inside monitoring techniques.
  • Ask for help from everyone you can find who works in this medium.
B)  The Internet—are you using the Internet as another primary market that can produce as much as 35% of actual business received?

Yes, In a hotel sales position how do you think the General Manager is going to react when you explain that you booked $2,500,000 in business for the year (or whatever it is, but it is HUGH)

You should do an overview of Internet marketing and discuss with your management team some effective strategies to better understand this powerful revenue opportunity. Your perception in this market is very important to your success. It should be viewed, as "base business" not discounted, low rated business.  As long as you have the knowledge, and invest very heavy in the knowledge of these terms/meaning of these terms the whole world changes for you. In 2008 80.4% of the 112 million online travelers used the Internet to plan their trips (that's 90.0 million people) [1]

  • Corporate brand web site. 
  • Company sites for airlines and hotels. 
  • OTA's -Online Travel Agencies (Expedia, Travelocity)
  • Search Engines (i.e. Google, yahoo)
  • Your web site.
  • Destination Sites. State and Local Tourism Sites.
  • Special event web sites.
  • General Travel sites that offer free brochures
C)  Professional E-commerce marketing Companies   

standingdog.com

I do not work for these guy's, I do however take a team approach with this market and need them to keep us current and to communicate with brand to getting things done quickly and they are reasonably priced.

Year to Date, the Embassy Suites Galleria, Atlanta hotel has outperformed 2008, even with a $45.30 drop in ADR (the real world).  A major contributing factor to this increase was Search Engine traffic, which is up $22,974.40 over last year.   Our search rankings are staying strong and I can discuss further need areas to capitalize on our success if you want to know, but that is a topic for another time 

D)  Maximizing your Franchise Potential:

Make sure you are getting everything you are paying for in your franchise fees. Some of these services are not widely promoted by the brand. Some are very inexpensive and some are only offered by asking for their help. A separate complete plan with accountability and action steps should be established. Did you know that all major franchisers offer a market specialist when seeking a specific market segment (i.e. Government, Corporate etc?) It still amazes me that some hotels are not using the many tools available to them from the franchiser. Your brand service representative should become an integral part of your success team.

TWO:

Driving Business:  Making Your Analytical Tools Really Work
 
This week you are going to find ways to get the most out of your best analytical tools for optimal positioning within your competitive set and for also taking full advantage of your strengths within your market.

  • Finding what you need and what you have--information you may already have and may not be using. 
  • What your internal reports can really do to help you with your future-selling plan. 
  • How to exploit your external sources—STR reports, Hotelligence* reports, and your own brand reports. 
  • Understand what these reports tell you about the marketplace and your hotel's position. Is it time to make changes to your internal reports? Are your managers spending more time completing internal reports than making you money?  
  • Re-evaluate valuable information to improve your year over year planning.
  • Analyze your competition from the perspective of why people choose one hotel over another. Personal contact, not rate is the answer here.
  • Evaluate the perceived "benefits picture" presented in your Web Site and sales collateral for the purpose of taking business from your main competitors. 
  • Evaluate your position in the marketplace compared to your competitive set. Are you number one in "yield and penetration" and still losing money?  
  • Determine which accounts to target and why.
  • Why "Price" is important?
  • Remember to not to get caught up in "paralysis by analysis" 
THREE: 

Motivating Others To Sell For You And Demand Generator Analysis
 
Zero in on the market segments that give you your greatest "Return on Investment", the biggest bang for your buck. Situate Your Hotel optimally in these segments and get others, notably people in your targeted segments, to sell your hotel for you.

  • Identify where your business is coming from and find brand specialist to help you obtain a greater market share.
  • Redirect your General Manager and the sales staff to their proper places in your key markets. Hopefully your GM is involved in the local CVB. 
  • Make sure your segmentation is a good fit for your hotel. 
  • Review all market segments to determine opportunities and do not go off chasing markets from which you are not receiving business.
  • Find "friends" to sell for you, developing a selling network. Example would be sending a limo over a major account and bring them all back to the hotel where you will take a tour, a plush lunch and parting gifts for all attendees. 
  • Front desk selling, getting referrals and closing more sales. Have you implemented a "Courtesy Call" program?
  • "Account Maximization"—obtaining all available revenue from existing accounts.
  • The DOS should have three key accounts—the Franchiser, the Internet and the CVB.
FOUR:

Outside sales calls, get serious about obtaining more business.

We instinctively know that BIG game customers like being hooked by BIG gamesmen.  Never underestimate the impact it makes on a potential client when the Vice President, Owner and/or the GM takes time to accompany a Sales Manager on sales calls and ask for the business. People do business with People they know!

Sales-Savvy Leadership:  When the area manager, the owner and the GM get involved in the sales process he/she can play an integral part in showing the client a new approach to hospitality! They should participate in every site tour and attend important client lunches with the sales manager. They should leave the hotel to conduct sales calls at least once a week and above all, set the tone and example of the kind of sales intensity he/she expects from the sales team. 

In business school we are taught that "sales minus expenses" equals profit! I think that all management positions require that 50% of that position be directed at creating revenue and 50% of their efforts be directed to controlling expenses. I never met anybody who went broke making a profit!  

Building on a long, successful hotel career on both the property and corporate levels, with multi-property and multi-franchise responsibilities, Rick excels at programs that effectively integrate the headquarters and the field in the pursuit of marketing and sales objectives. He has years of experience and leadership in response to the challenges of rapid expansion, economic slumps, aggressive competitors, technological innovations, and even unexpected natural disasters. He is an accomplished author of numerous hospitality articles and has been a successful hotel owner.

This has given him a unique and timely combination of skills for responding to a market or a business in transition. Through it all, his objective has been to achieve significant improvement in revenues, productivity and overall procedural and personnel efficiency by repositioning marketing and sales.

Rick Welch CHA, CHME tailors practical solutions for today's challenging business climates based on a comprehensive knowledge and extensive experience in all facets of contemporary sales and marketing development. This includes multi-unit and multi-franchise management, training, and e-commerce marketing.

This outline has recently been field-tested and many changes have been made to guarantee its success. I hope you find it as successful as I have. If you would like additional information, please do not hesitate to e-mail me.

Richard.welch@hilton.com

Rick Welch is currently the Director of Sales of the Embassy Suites Galleria, Atlanta. Rick Welch CHA, CHME specializes in practical hotel sales and marketing solutions customized for today's challenges and uncertain business environment.

[1] Source: TIA use of the Internet 2008

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