The hospitality industry has prevailed under challenging circumstances by remaining resilient. The fact that things are finally returning to how they were has all hoteliers feeling upbeat and content. As per Statista, by 2023, the worldwide travel and tourism industry will reach pre-pandemic levels of over 730 million dollars, with hotel sales being the primary source of this growth. Not only this, according to Costar, the demand for rooms is anticipated to spike in 2024 and possibly hit an all-time high in 2023. It's terrific news, isn't it?
Now, it's imperative to boost hotel sales to make these projections a reality. In this blog, we'll walk you through the entire journey of hotel sales. We will discuss the strategies you should employ before starting the hotel sales process, the channels you should utilize once you've started the process and the effective after-sales strategies that need to be used. These strategies are essential for a successful sales cycle that will ultimately escalate bookings and revenue.
Before we dive in, if you were looking to really dig deep or just needed more information on any of the topics below, you can find all of the below and more in our Ultimate Hotel Sales Guide Chapters!
Pre-Sale Hotel Sales Strategies
During the pre-sales stage, we'll discuss the groundwork and the key pillars that need to be built before continuing with the selling process. These pillars are the cornerstone of the entire hotel sales process and are essential to make the sales process efficient.
Let’s get started with the four pillars, shall we?
1. Identify your Target Persona
A target persona/ buyer persona is a fictional representation of the people you are trying to target based on shared demographics, preferences, and expectations for what they anticipate from a hotel. Building a target persona helps specify where to find your ideal client, how to address them and which characteristics are essential for prospecting, relationship-building, and sales. While carving out the buyer persona, include information on their demographics, intention, and pain points in order to effectively market and sell your services to them.
2. Build the framework of your sales team
Having a sales team structure that corresponds to your booking objectives and an overarching strategy is crucial as it plays a pivotal role in escalating hotel sales. To achieve this, the first important step is to determine the number of members in your sales team. The number of team members must be calculated on the basis of total number of workable leads and the expected revenue from each rep based on conversion rates and ARPA (see full formula and example calculations in the Ultimate Hotel Sales Guide Chapter - 1) . The second step is to have separate salespersons for corporate and individual bookings. This split helps focus on both booking segments (corporate and individual bookings), bringing recurring revenue year after year.
3. Select your distribution strategy
The distribution strategy focuses on identifying the channels you'll utilize to sell your hotel rooms and event venues effectively. To do this, you must ascertain the channels your target market spends the most time on, whether online (social media) or offline (in-person events, meetings, or conferences). The quantity of channels you have access to is the next thing to think about because you can only communicate with your persona through the channels that are open to you.
4. Select the tech stack required for a successful sale
To do effective selling, hoteliers need specific tools to obtain data, operate a seamless sales cycle, provide a good user experience, and increase follow-up booking rates. The tools are listed below:
- A sales & catering software facilitates the entire hotel sales process by providing various amazing features such as automated workflows, e-proposals, contracts, payment integrations and many more.
- A PMS (Property Management Software) helps to manage all the hotel operations in one place by providing many in-built tools and a suite of integrations.
- An RMS (Revenue Management software) helps get data from all the departments and merge them to optimize tactics for effectively maximizing revenue.
During-Selling Hotel Sales Strategies
Now you have entered the hotel sales process, in the during-hotel sales stage, we'll go through the list of offline and online channels that are accessible for connecting with your target audience based on their preferences.
Online Sales Channels
- - Social Media Channels- Social media channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest, Discord, and Pinterest are the best places for hoteliers seeking potential leads. Once you have created your target persona, finding and connecting with them on these platforms in real form becomes easier in reaching your targeted audience much faster. Along with making connections, providing value through shared content is essential to strengthen the bond. By doing this, you can gain the trust of your contacts and increase their receptivity to potential future prospects.
- - Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)- OTAs are web-based platforms where hotels can register themselves to get brand visibility and bookings. Platforms such as Expedia, Booking.com, Agoda.com and many more provide the opportunity for hotels to reach out to a larger audience. Customers browse, compare, and book a range of travel-related goods and services through these platforms. It is recommended to advertise your hotels on several OTAs to increase brand awareness, especially when first starting out. Make sure to provide detailed information about your amenities, and display favourable customer reviews for a chance at ranking higher in OTAs.
- - Presence of a website - Presence on OTAs can be a fantastic way to get initial traction towards your property - but, in the long run, having your own website is a crucial component of brand awareness and attracting more business. The website goes in more depth than any other channel can - allowing you to show your full suite of services, the scale of your customer service, your event spaces, the standard of your food and beverage provisions and much more! The availability of your own asset (your website) also allows you to provide special promotions for direct bookings and encourage users to book through you versus third-party websites.
- - Email Marketing- Without a doubt, email marketing is frequently recognized as the most successful method of client interaction, generating $38 for every $1 invested. It is said to be one of most intimate ways to engage with your customers and stay top-of-mind. Since users check their email daily, your chance of being seen rises. By routinely sending emails to existing customers about new offers, seasonal deals and forthcoming events, you can add value to their trip before or during their stay. You can also utilize email marketing to close corporate accounts, maintain relationships and provide targeted promotions to specific segments of your prospect list.
Offline Sales Channels
- - Print Media- Print media will always be a critical component for increasing brand awareness. To advertise your hotel, use print media such as magazines, newspapers, flyers, one-pagers, and business cards. The plus point with print media is that it engages people of all ages, including younger and more digitally savvy viewers. Additionally, print elicits an emotional response from the reader because it's a multi-sensory experience; print media alters how the reader's brain processes and remembers information compared to other marketing channels.
- - Trade Shows and Conferences- Trade shows and conferences are great ways to connect with your target audience in real-time. Meeting your potential customers face-to-face improves the likelihood of them interacting, engaging and converting. These are also excellent opportunities to meet a large quantity of people within your target audience at the same time allowing you to not only learn more about your target persona but also speak to larger groups of people at a much lower one-time investment.
- - Local and Seasonal Events- The chances to interact and network with guests at these local and seasonal events are enormous. Keep tabs on local activities happening near you to become more involved in the neighbourhood, connect with your target market and build confidence while also building brand awareness.
Post-Sale Hotel Sales Strategies
The saying that gaining a new customer is five times more expensive than retaining an existing one stands true. Many hotels neglect their paying guests once the deal has been made. As efforts to draw in new customers increase, current customers' experiences deteriorate. It will be more beneficial for hoteliers to turn their existing customers into brand ambassadors. To achieve this, customer retention strategies play a pivotal role. This section will briefly overview the numerous customer retention strategies you should use to turn a one-time consumer into a devoted and consistent one.
Sales handoffs refer to the point in the hotel sales process when the sales lead converts into a paying customer. There are different types of sales handoffs, and they differ depending on the sale. The list includes corporate agreement sales handoff (occurs for corporate agreements), group bookings sales handoff ( occurs for corporate and regular group bookings), event bookings sales handoff and individual room bookings sales handoff. The sales manager ensures a thorough and regular follow-up process in all these sales handoffs and negotiates future sales. A sales hand-off is critical to ensure that the ball does not get dropped at any point during the customer experience and that the excellent service carries through from pre-stay to during to stay to after-stay.
Banquet Event Orders (BEOs)
Banquet Event Orders are documents that contain all the essential details of the event and are utilized as the primary source of information about the event.
BEO’s usually contain 6 sections:
- Contact Information
- Food And Beverage Order
- Room Setup
- Audio Visual/Outside Vendors
As a post-sales strategy, BEOs continue to build trust, maintain customer experience and build reputation through structured and transparent communication between the hotel and the client.
Referral, Loyalty Programs and Follow-up Sequences
The hospitality sector is a people-driven sector that strongly relies on reviews and referrals. Travellers research hotel reviews before making reservations. Systems that encourage your consumers to promote you must be in place if you want to receive favourable ratings. Systems such as referral, loyalty, and follow-up programs ensure following up with consumers after a sale, creating a positive post-purchase experience, and ensuring they feel just as supported and cared for as they did before the booking process.
We really hope that this blog has improved your understanding of the steps leading up to, during, and following the hotel sales process. Please feel free to use our comprehensive guides as a resource if you want to learn in-depth about hotel sales process strategies.