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How Tech Savvy Is Your $ales System?

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October 24, 2006
Sales | Technology
Carol Verret - carol@carolverret.com

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© 2006 Hospitality Upgrade. No reproduction without written permission.

Technology has driven all of the recent improvements in revenue generation. It has enabled sophisticated revenue management tools and revenue generation from all distribution channels—from the GDS to hotel Web sites.  There is one area of revenue generation that lags behind the application of technology–the hotel sales department.

In many markets, 2007 will see demand beginning to slow.  “While the number of hotel rooms occupied will continue to grow at a 1.4 percent pace, the number of new accommodations is projected to increase by 2 percent in 2007,” PKF stated in a July 2006 study and further stated that demand increases cannot continue indefinitely due to the cyclical nature of the industry.  Those who receive the weekly Smith Travel Report on occupancy, rate and RevPAR for the U.S. may have noticed that the demand figure is a bit delicate. 

Many hotels and hotel companies have reallocated sales and marketing resources to managing and manipulating their positioning on the Internet. They are quite correct in doing so—this is a trend that is not only not going away but will continue growing. The percentage increase in revenue generation growth for these channels, unfortunately, has not been characteristic of most hotel sales departments and, as a result, the precious marketing resources available to them have, in many cases, been reduced to accommodate the expenditures on Internet channels and Web presence.
However, the economy is beginning to slow down and there are numerous projects in the development pipeline, more in some markets than others.   It will become imperative for hotel sales departments to become more tech savvy in developing and managing new business if they are to become more sophisticated and effective revenue generators.

How can the tech savvy-ness of a hotel sales system be measured?

Lead Sites
There are many of these around and all can be useful in new business development.  However, there are hundreds if not thousands of hotels mining them.   How does your hotel sales department decide which leads to pursue, how do they differentiate the property from the rest of the field and most importantly, what is the conversion rate on leads mined from these resources.  What is the company’s ROI?

New Business Development 
Apart from the leads fed to sales from the lead platforms, how well and what system does the sales department use to develop other new business using the Internet?  Do they drill down searches to specifically locate new business and how do they know what they are looking for?  When a new business prospect is found, what sites do they use for research and which indicators do they look at?
E-mail Communication 
How effectively do they use e-mail? What is the quality of their e-mail communication, how well is it monitored? Is there an e-mail folder for your sales people’s e-mail communication kept by management so that it can be evaluated like the old ‘reader files’?  Is there a template for e-mail stationary that the sales department uses so it that has the same look and feel as the other collateral from the hotel?

Digital Collateral
Is all of your collateral digitized so that any and all information can be sent as a downloadable attachment?  From banquet menus to hotel brochures, meeting planners want to see digital files that can be forwarded to clients and participants. 

CRM or Contact Management
Assuming that sales reports are generated from these systems, who audits the database? When was the last time that management audited the database to ensure that all traces were in fact completed and that all the files in the database have trace dates?   Is the company maximizing the functionality of these systems including the pipeline reports?
Hotel sales departments can incorporate the Internet into their every day activities to contact more prospects more efficiently. Each of the examples above are just the beginning of the techniques that hotel sales departments can use to incorporate the Internet into their activities to penetrate target markets, develop new prospects and maintain relationships.

Let me anticipate and address an objection that is heard about the lack of ability to build a relationship with a prospective client using Cyber Sales. People are now used to initiating and building business relationships through e-mail and instant messaging. Once “touched” enough times electronically, it is then possible to make a telephone appointment to build on the relationship. A telephone appointment is more efficient than leaving voice mails.

The message here is that hotel sales departments can use the Internet in many ways to become more productive and efficient. As the growth in use of the Internet channels exhibits, our prospects find us in new ways. We need to find them in the ways that they locate us.

Carol Verret and Associates Consulting & Training specializes in conducting sales training that focuses on using technology in the sales process.  She can be reached at carol@carolverret.com. 

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