Vendor Updates


2020 Spring
Arlington, VA

With the advent of technology intermediaries and increases in hotel supply coming online, competition for event business is fierce. The costs to acquire those events are equally as concerning.

In a recent poll of more than 200 respondents from across the nation in a variety of roles, Knowland learned that inbound RFPs are listing multiple cities more and more frequently. While some of this might be related to internal protocols requiring multiple bids, it could also be a meeting planner stacking the deck to make the market they prefer look especially attractive. For every RFP received, you can assume that several hotels received exactly the same lead. Salespeople must be able to understand the buying behavior of groups before they respond to these inbound RFPs.

Without this level of group knowledge, the salesperson often defaults to rates, dates and availability which leads to the commoditization of group business. It feels much like what happened to the hotel business when the online travel agencies (OTAs) emerged, squeezing profit margins and brand value from the industry.

The real detriment to the industry is the over-dependence on inbound RFPs as a strategy for selling group. It’s a recipe for under-performance and that’s what Knowland sees in the market today. This is underscored by sales leaders remarking on how the wind down of the historic growth cycle is causing shortfalls and widening need periods in their group business. They are left with sales teams that have subpar proactive prospecting skills and struggle to make up the difference.

This begs the question: Are there other ways for hotels to improve their revenues and optimize profits? The short answer is yes. By proactively soliciting group business with Hunter-style salespeople (not waiting for group business to come to them in the form of inbound leads) and historical event data at their fingertips, hotels can take back the control into their own hands.

If hotels put more resources into building up the proactive, direct-to-planner channel as their source of group business, a proactive group sales strategy, they will be growing repeat business and over time be less and less reliant on the more expensive (higher cost of acquisition) third-party inbound leads, which are often much riskier, less dependable, usually unqualified and more costly.

To remain competitive today and into the future, hotels must think outside its backyard to grow its book of business by changing how they sell group today. Proactively selling group is a way in which users source, connect with and talk to prospects. The hunters can turn a cold call into a warm call and turn a sales pitch into a conversation.

They can build stronger positioning versus the competition of all shapes and sizes to win more bookings and the fair share of group. And if they take the time to leverage group data and insights to learn about a prospect and connect with them about their entire book of business, not just one event, they’re on the way to building a relationship that can be  nurtured into stronger repeat business.

The mantra is simple: Change how you sell group today by executing a proactive group sales strategy. You’ll gain control of your group pipeline, build a stronger base of repeat business and reap the benefits of increased profitability.

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