Anyone who’s ever been a part of the hospitality industry knows how difficult it can be to run a successful hotel. It takes a considerable amount of time and expertise to figure out the strategies and efforts needed for successful sales.
In this blog, we picked the brain of a man who was raised in the hospitality industry and learned about all about it under the guidance of his father, Raman Patel.
Rupesh Patel is the President and Chief Operating Officer at Zenique Hotels. He took charge of Zenique when it was merely a hotel with a poor performance that people did their best to avoid – and he has now turned it into one of the top-rated hotels on TripAdvisor.
In this blog, he discusses how to use data found in a Property Management System to drive corporate sales to your business – and how, sometimes, traditional gestures are just as effective as before.
Here’s what we learned in a conversation with Rupesh Patel:
What Can A Sales Manager Do Initially To Keep The Sales Coming?
It all starts when the corporate guests check in – later, the sales manager dig deeper into their portfolio to uncover the rates they paid their rooms and the travel agency (if any) that they booked through.
In case they use an agency, their IATA number can be traced back to check if the agency can produce more sales for your hotel. This data will help your sales managers to decide whether they should act upon this opportunity and try to get some business through them.
Discussing the importance of regularly prospecting sales, Mr. Patel explained that if sales managers prospect every day, it will prove very useful for your business. But that is next to impossible for new companies, where the sales managers are assigned multiple tasks.
He emphasized that they at least keep an eye on the guests that stayed with your hotel and have the capacity to bring about more business so they can approach them later.
How Do E-mails Help Find New Leads?
E-mails should be an essential part of a guest’s check-in process. The trouble is that sometimes they are unwilling to give their e-mail addresses and give their travel agency’s e-mail address instead, which is why it’s crucial to verify it.
The sales managers can research hand-picked corporate guests and use their addresses to reach out to them directly. They are most likely to get a positive response as it’s not, in Mr. Patel’s words, “cold calling” as they’ve already stayed at your hotel before.
Also, hotels should avoid putting metrics on everything because even if one of those many reach-outs convert into a customer, it’ll make up for all your efforts.
What’s The Relationship between Revenue Management and Sales?
According to Mr. Patel, the process goes like this:
- Sales managers find the leads and get all their information
- Revenue managers analyze such data and decide on a rate to offer them
- Sales managers then sell these rates (even if they’re higher than usual) to the leads effectively and convert them into a client
It’s crucial to maintain a balance between revenue segments. For instance, an account may seem to offer significant revenue opportunities, but they’re going to come in on peak nights only when your retail business is high.
If the results of a long-term relationship are highly beneficial to your business, you’d be willing to displace some of the revenue.
In short, it’s the revenue management’s job to set and maintain a balance between different revenue streams.
How To Win Business From Competitors?
TripAdvisor, Expedia, Booking.com, and a variety of similar sites and customer surveys help businesses differentiate themselves from competitors because that’s where customer experience is best highlighted.
Prospective clients search for services similar to yours on all these venues before they book you. So getting good feedback on these sites is the key to negotiating higher rates.
Moreover, in terms of choosing extra benefits, hotels should analyze the opportunity costs for each of them and their effectiveness in deriving business so that it’s beneficial for them in the long-run.
Customer Retention Over Time
Customer retention is essential as it leads to recurring revenue for the hotel.
For this, hotels need to reach out to their guests (locals or tourists) via emails or calls to get feedback about their stay with the hotel – make it a quarterly practice.
Not only will the customers feel appreciated, but you’ll also get some insights into their plans with your hotel.
Additionally, you’ll get to see whether any of their colleagues are staying at a separate hotel and incentivize them to come and stay with you.
Cross-Selling Your Business
Talking about corporate tracking, Mr. Patel explained that cross-selling could generate revenue as a whole for the hotel.
For example, if an account doesn’t have much business for you in one place but does in another one of your localities, the director of sales here should refer such accounts to the director of sales in that locality.
Digital Marketing Tactics
For digital media marketing, Mr. Patel had two critical points:
- GDS (Global Distribution System) marketing is expensive, but it’s an excellent tool to use and has always seen a strong ROI.
- Social media marketing can be used to sponsor your ads and target people in a specific region.
PMS and the vast array of analytics they offer are indispensable for businesses in the hospitality industry. Data can come in handy for decision-making at any management level, and the right PMS makes it easier to access and extract relevant information.
Use this info to identify and target guests that already have an experience with you.
Also, hire competent people to work for you and segregate their duties. It doesn’t mean hiring know-it-alls, but people with a positive attitude towards learning so that we can build them up with our business.