A fresh new year brings a new opportunity to delight ownership with big results in group/event sales…but only if you start off with velocity.
Here are five tactics for jumpstarting your hotel sales performance in 2017 and establishing momentum for the next 12 months:
- Have a kick-ass kick-off!
Seize this moment to fire up your group sales team and send them off hustling, motivated and inspired to hit their revenue goals each month. An epic sales kick-off is your one chance to launch with real velocity and energise your team on a grand scale. The key is to get your team pumped and primed to kill it in the year ahead. So, avoid a boring presentation of last year’s numbers (snore). Book an exciting outside speaker, hold interactive education sessions addressing the challenges they faced last year, get the team up and moving during breakouts, and sprinkle in some high-energy team building activities. And remember, all of this initial enthusiasm and education can wear off by the following month, so reinforce the main ideas throughout the year in your regular weekly meetings.
- Have a simple roadmap.
Booking group business without a sensible business plan is like playing darts with a blindfold on and crossing your fingers that you’ll hit the bullseye.
- Hope is not a strategy.
Don’t leave your revenues to chance or expect your sales team to make up for your lack of organisation. You should map out the primary underlying drivers that justify the sales targets you are projecting for ownership. How many trade shows, sales visits, planner events, marketing and sales campaigns are required? What are the main threats to achieving your sales goals? Your plan doesn’t need to be long and formal, but it should convey all the main waypoints on your road to sales success. It should also be a living tool, so don’t stick it up on a shelf to gather dust. Instead, review it every month to make sure you’re on track. And allow yourself the flexibility to adjust throughout the year if something isn’t working or if you want to try a clever new tactic.
- Who’s driving leads?
This is one of the most significant components of your sales plan. It’s vital that your sales team sprints out in Q1 and pounds the pavement to build their sales pipeline, as that will set the pace for the rest of the year. Outline specific prospecting activities and lead generation quotas for each sales person. Make sure the proper folks have access to your prospecting tools, or invest in tools such as Knowland or Groups360 to capture business intelligence and identify new prospects.
- Go big…early!
Shore up your pipeline and boost the year with a strong foundation by taking inventory of key group accounts. Which accounts brought in the most business last year? Which planners have the potential to add incremental business and multi-year contracts?
Call on these planners early on, remind them of the benefits of partnering with your hotel as their venue and offer even more value by incentivising them to book early. Creating this foundation leaves room for better forecasting and revenue management yield strategies. Then, continue to nurture these existing clients throughout the year, recognize them for their loyalty and show a genuine interest in their success to strengthen the relationship.
- Rethink your sales materials
The needs of modern meeting planners are constantly changing. Review your sales and marketing materials to make sure they are speaking to the concerns of today’s planners, not just generically touting your venue space. Meeting planners have challenges…so make sure you’re marketing messages crafted to offer event “solutions.” Do you need separate materials and messaging for corporate planners vs associations? Does your value proposition resonate with current customers? (You might be surprised if you simply ask a few of your best customers their opinion of what makes your property unique.)When meeting planners source venues, they often collect sales and marketing collateral from several venues, then review later. Make sure your marketing materials stand out from your comp set. A lot can happen in a year. So, if you are re-using sales materials from last year, it’s already time for a second look. Planners today appreciate authenticity, so update your materials with guest-sourced photos, videos and testimonials.
No matter how inspiring or charismatic your sales team is, they must be armed with stunning sales materials to make an impression on planners and to help differentiate your property.