15 essential activities for hotel sales and marketing leaders
This article originally appeared on Tambourine.
We work with a lot of DOSMs across a wide variety of properties of all sizes in many countries.
Some are good, some are great and some are working hard to improve.
What do the great ones have in common?
Which activities and disciplines deliver better results?
The answers might surprise you!
Based on our experience, here are the 12 things we recommend to hotel DOSMs seeking better results in 2018:
1. Assess your top 20 sales opportunities
Successful DOSMs constantly scrutinize their monthly and yearly group business goals and know where they stand on any given day with each pending opportunity. Leave the fluffy weekly sales meeting to the other hotels; instead, keep track of the progress toward your group sales goals by meeting with your team every day. Review top opportunities, get a no-B.S. status on critical deals and determine what each sales person can do that day to edge closer to winning that piece of business.
Do you know your current closing percentage? And how long the average deal takes to close?
A daily check-in is paramount to hitting your group room night goals.
2. Be vigilant about your product
With all the sales and marketing strategies and technology you have in place, at the end of the day, its an exceptional guest experience that will attract bookings again and again. So, it makes sense to get your head out of the computer and leave your office to simply walk your property at least once a day.
Be mindful and try to see the property with fresh eyes. Talk to guests!
Scrutinize any flaws or opportunities for improvement. Notice whats missing or what is possibly holding your property back. Is it the restaurants uninspiring menu? Or a cluttered spa entrance? Or a dismal hallway lighting? Maybe its outdated staff uniforms or procedures? No amount of brilliant marketing can cover or compensate for property shortcomings, so its up to you to start there first. Submit a report to ownership at least once a year detailing the product shortcomings that are affecting results.
3. Embrace the metrics owners care about the most
Every day, you should be checking key performance indicators (KPIs) that hotel owners and asset managers consider high priority, such as marketing cost per booking (MCPB), direct revenue ratio (DRR) and your STR index vs. the comp set. Monitoring these KPIs will help you and your owner understand how your sales and marketing team is actually contributing to the hotels revenue targets. Plus, these numbers will ultimately drive performance each day. Most hoteliers tend to wait until a slow season to pay attention to these metrics, then scramble to frantically catch up when the numbers reveal how behind they are in reaching the hotels goals.
4. Monitor guest sentiment
In addition to speaking to real-life human guests, online guest reviews are another direct link to your hotels future success. They tell you what went wrong (and right) in the past, and what you need to do moving forward. Even if it is someone elses job to read and respond to guest reviews, successful DOSMs need to know what guests are saying as well. Do the same with mentions of your hotel on social media, such as photos taken by guests and posted to Instagram or Facebook. These posts can be extremely revealing and give an unfiltered view of guest sentiment. Notice what comes up most often, and then outline how you and other management staff can make improvements.
5. Speak to actual guests
Pardon us for repeating ourselves: Resist the urge to stay glued to your computer or attend your own meetings all day. Get out and talk to guests, especially attendees of groups and events if that segment represents a large chunk of your revenue projection!
You are a host, first and foremost. So, talk and mingle with the people who really matter: your guests. Chat with guests in the lobby, or walk the meeting space and chat with attendees during their downtime. Start a conversation and see how things are going. Ask what could make their stay or meeting experience even better. Discover what really matters to them. Jot down and collect their responses, and use that as inspiration to drive your sales and marketing efforts. All of this intelligence can be used to attract more transient bookings or group business in the future.
6. Build your story
Travelers are no longer drawn to facts, promises of a wonderful stay or mentions of your recent industry awards. They want to be a part of something that intrigues them, connects with them and gives them something to brag about.
Consistently and creatively telling a meaningful, truthful story is what can truly attract travelers to you. However, its a common problem for many hoteliers to not know what their story is, much less how to convey it.
Correctly telling your story means knowing your audience, being honest about your assets and getting all stakeholders into consensus about your propertys unique identity so that you can convey it poignantly across all your marketing channels.
7. Get closer to your revenue manager
The most successful DOSMs confer with their revenue manager almost every day, not simply once per week. Just like your top sales opportunities, you need to stay on top of your hotels pace reports, upcoming low periods, performance vs. budget and the strategies to drive more revenue from ancillary products. The days of sales/marketing operating in separate silos from revenue management are firmly over. Check out this brief article on how to connect all the departments that affect your propertys revenue
8. Wrap your property in local color
The desire for unforgettable and authentic travel experiences isnt going away anytime soon. Modern travelers want to experience a destination like a local would, and are replacing trips to cliched attractions with visits to mom-and-pop shops, farmers markets, art walks and hidden local spots. And, theyre looking to pick a hotel at the epicenter of all those things. Dont sit back and simply rely on your concierge to stay abreast of all the local activities that are possible. Stay on top of it by skimming the publications that locals tend to read, such as weeklies like San Diego Reader or city magazines like Seattle Met. This will give you ideas for possible partnerships, room packages and unique off-site group options.
9. Study your comp set
In the battle for bookings, never take your eyes off the competition. In addition to monitoring rate, checking in on your comp set gives you insight into the smart moves theyre making to draw more direct bookings and more group business. One of the easiest ways to keep up with competition is to follow their social media accounts, not just for the property itself, but of each sales person, too. (Each sales person at your property should follow their counterparts at competing hotels.) What is getting the most engagement? What are they bragging about? Then, read their latest guest reviews and find out what their guests love and hate about their experience. Use this data to gauge what their customers and guests respond to and determine if you can use their successes to inspire change at your property as well.
10. Stress balance and reduce stress
Smart DOSMs also find ways to reduce stress at work. They hire positive, high-achieving staff and fire negative, poor performers. They set expectations clearly with those below and above them. They eliminate vendor fatigue by consolidating their needs with as few vendors as possible. They surround themselves with people who can get things done with little to no hand-holding. And most importantly, they know that despite their non-stop, 24/7 job, work should never be their only source of pride and enjoyment. The most successful DOSMs have vibrant, fulfilling lives outside of work, balancing the demands of their work life with family, friends, exercise and travel.
11. Tech enable your sales team
Group planners/buyers are now using digital methods for some 80% of their pre-purchase research and planning, so hotel DOSMs need to scrap the traditional, relationship-based methods of the past and arm themselves with every digital tool available. This includes gathering customer data from social media, blogs and other aspects of their respective digital footprint, as well as tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Knowland Groups market intelligence. It also means syncing sales efforts with the hotels marketing team, especially through marketing automation and a joint customer relationship management (CRM) system.
12. Stop competing with OTAs on price
Instead of making price parity your lead strategy for combatting the online travel agencies (OTAs), recent data suggests another tactic can be much more effective: targeting consumer fears regarding using OTAs.
It turns out that OTAs have built a lousy reputation for poor customer service, and many travelers worry about reservations, cancellations, changes, room selection and refunds when booking through OTAs. In response, you should harness the power of emotional messaging across all transient marketing touchpoints, reminding prospective guests at every opportunity that booking direct is the safer play, and you have a 100% commitment to customer service in the even something does go wrong.
13. Augment Your brands basic marketing program
Brand affiliation offers many potential sales and marketing advantages; however, these benefits arent often enough all on their own, as each brands national marketing team generally cant reach specific target markets on a timely basis, convey unique property experiences or synthesize authentic local culture. Hotels need to augment their brands core program with timely campaigns and custom direct vanity websites that help fill periods of need, instead of solely relying on their brands standard marketing program, which is duplicated for every other sister hotel in the region. Take a proactive approach that focuses on differentiating your property, customizing your website, boosting your search engine optimization (SEO) and social media efforts and elevating the authenticity of your marketing message.
Also, if your property heavily depends on group revenue, consider adding technology, training and lead generation tools from outside vendors.
14. Consolidate vendors
Working with multiple hotel marketing vendors means none are accountable. Meanwhile, hotel marketers waste a lot of time delivering messages from vendor to vendor, in a struggle to get everyone on the same page. Then further complicating things is the issue of vendor technology often not working well with others, blocking real-time data from being shared amongst the entire team.
Pare-down your vendors to as few as possible, favoring hospitality marketing partners who have an expertise and proven success in several areasnot just oneso they can optimize multiple marketing functions. Most importantly, ask them the necessary questions to find out if they have the chops and systems in place to drive bookings and deliver ROI.
15. Know your Cost-per-Booking
Today, hotel owners expect their hotel marketing departments to contribute to the hotels revenue targets in ways that can be measured. Without tracking and showing the numerical evaluation of your marketing efforts, youre going to face a difficult time later in the year when you need to request next years marketing dollars.
To prove how your marketing efforts are adding to the hotels revenue, youll need to calculate your marketing cost per booking (MCPB) by segment. Use this number to show your marketing teams value and to ensure youre given the proper amount of marketing dollars to continue bringing in business for the hotel. Be especially vigilant to know your cost-per-booking from OTAs as well avoiding the trap of viewing OTA bookings as purely revenue with no cost of acquisition.
Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com