Interview: How To Create A Hotel Sales Strategy

May 2, 2020
Interview: How To Create A Hotel Sales Strategy
hotel sales pro greg johnson

1. How To Create A Hotel Sales Strategy

What are the main things you think about when building a hotel sales strategy?

My objectives when setting up sales strategies, is to ensure that these strategies are future facing, metrically driven, relevant, and realistic. We work in an industry that generally has a wide gap between the operations and sales disciplines. The leaders of the company are usually operationally minded, and so my goal is to speak that language in proving the worth of what sales is doing, and setting goals that they can understand and verify.

What are the main things people miss?

Sales leaders sometimes forget that our sales teams need to be laser focused on future business. When revenue’s go down the rallying cry is typically, “we need to group up!” That saying is one of my pet peeves. In the majority of cases, the sales teams can’t proactively sell to groups coming in the next 45-60 days. We can utilize eCommerce and Revenue Management strategies for an immediate revenue increase, but for the most part the sales teams can only sell reactively to leads coming in. They aren’t going to be effective in proactively finding groups in that short of a window. When sales are asked to ‘group up’, the results won’t be immediate. They will be noticed 60 days out and further into the future. Our job as sales leaders, is to effectively and clearly communicate that reality to your colleagues that are asking for immediate results.

2. Prospecting

How do you create a prospect list?

The most effective way to start creating your prospecting list, is to collaborate on colleagues and friends that have had success and knowledge in hotel sales and marketing. They can give you specific suggestions based on your experience level, location, and market segment. There is an overwhelming amount of tools and resources that you can utilize as you are looking at finding prospects. Don’t let this frustrate or intimidate you. Start with the basics and build on those.

How do you plan the activities?

A good plan is specific and up-to-date. I have had the most success with quarterly action plans that are updated as action is taken or at least bi-weekly. Break up the market segments and plan specific actions for each one. List out specific customers, accounts, and groups that you are going to contact. Detail the promotions that you want to implement, and put a date to them. As these actions are taken, make sure they capture what happened and what future activities can be made. This can be captured on the next quarters action plan.

How do you measure success?

The main factors of success should be measured by proactive activities and bookings. Set specific and realistic proactive sales goals to include sales phone calls, and in-person customer appointments and property visits. Consider making goals around number of customer visits that GM partners on, and networking events. Clearly communicate these expectations and hold the sales team accountable for their completion. In my opinion, if these activities aren’t logged into the properties CRM system, they didn’t happen.

Who does what/when?

This is determined by the sales leader. Having a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly checklist of specific and repeated activities documented is extremely effective. Calendar all deadlines, and send an invite to your sales team so they have these deadlines on their calendar as well.

hotel contracts template

3. Relationships

What do you do to build relationships with guests on-property?

The most effective way to build these relationships is by being visible. Whether you interact with your guests in person, greeting card, VIP gift, or some other type of recognition, you need to identify and target your guests before they arrive and decide how you will accomplish this. You should also start each day in the lobby and breakfast area.

How do you drive word of mouth business?

The majority of this type of business is directly tied to their experience at your property. It is essential to be a part of your front desk meetings and morning stand-ups. Get to know your hotel staff. They need to know that they are an integral part to keeping and capturing the clients of your hotel.

What on-property sales do you and your team do?

Put together an incentive for any staff member that gives you a lead for new business. This could also include the front desk identifying guests that check in associated with companies that are unfamiliar to them and might provide an opportunity to shift share to your hotel.

Identify companies that you want to target, and offer each guest associated with this company an incentive for referring additional business to your hotel.

4. Tools

How do you use tools in the sales process?

Make sure not to use so many tools that it dilutes your ability to connect personally to your clients.

  • Be prepared. Know your prospective clients and what type of business that you are asking for.
  • Be present. Have a comprehensive checklist of questions to ask to ensure you don’t miss any pertinent information.
  • Be responsive. Follow up powerfully and completely. Set yourself apart by contacting them promptly and personally.
What are your go-to tools?

Tools I love in helping prepare your proactive sales efforts :

  • Hotelligence
  • Information from your Hotel CRM system
  • Knowland report
  • Hospitality SoftNet comp set shops
  • Linked In, BidClerk, Google search,etc
  • Brand driven tools
  • BT Volume reports
  • Property arrivals
  • Top 50 companies

The tools are used to help prepare for future action. Instead of taking the phonebook, and ‘cold’ calling starting the the A’s – we now have the ability to dig into, and qualify, our prospective clients b

5. Sales Tips + Education

How you think about hiring

Hiring for sales is partially about skill and experience, and all about personality and drive.

How you think about sales

I love sales! It is my passion. I am addicted to finding new and more effective ways in improving my process and success rate. It is fascinating to interact with the many personalities that we experience on a daily basis. I have a sense of pride and accomplishment knowing that the revenue I bring in is the backbone of my hotel.

How you align Sales, Marketing + Revenue Management

This is all about partnership, communication and delineation. Write down what each department is responsible, as well as identifying where each discipline partners together in capturing the best mix of business for the hotel. If everyone understands their roles, and how they bring value to the team, then a symbiotic relationship is created.

hotel sales pro greg johnson

About Greg Johnson

With a passion for the true art of sales, Greg Johnson was most recently the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Newport Hospitality Group. He started his hospitality career in full and select hotels in Idaho and Utah. He then moved to Memphis as the Global Director of Sales and Revenue Management Training for Hilton Worldwide where he was responsible for maintaining all sales and revenue management courses for all Hilton brands. Next at White Lodging Services, Greg managed the sales for 35 properties in the company’s portfolio, consisting of Hilton, Marriott, Starwood and Hyatt brands across the United States. In addition to having the best career around, Greg is a distinguished public speaker, emcee, clogger (yes, the dance), bowtie aficionado, husband and father of three.

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