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As the world and the hotel industry start to see the first green shoots of recovery from the COVID lockdowns, there is no shortage of new technologies emerging to try to address the new realities. As I sat down to write this week’s column, I found a list of more than 30 new or significantly modified products that had hit my radar I the past few weeks, all of them innovations somehow related to COVID.

The availability of NFC contactless payment (Restaurant POS, Front Desk, Kiosk), and NFC contactless access control (guest room doors, parking garages, elevators, meeting rooms, gyms, spas, front doors etc.) in hotels to reduce the need to touch shared surfaces that allow the transmission of coronavirus is both an urgent need, and an intelligent response, to one of the most significant issues that the hospitality industry has ever faced: coronavirus transmission and COVID-19 . Importantly also, NFC contactless, if widely implemented, would demonstrate that the hospitality industry has the well-being of its guests and employees front of mind once hotels start to emerge from lock-down. 

As millions across America practice social distancing, hotels and Convention and Visitor Bureaus (CVBs) are faced with the overall challenge of supporting their community and planning for the post-COVID-19 rebound. In addition to working directly with meeting planners, CVBs often report and forecast tourism for the entire community. CVBs play an integral role in the education and knowledge of upcoming events and trends in their community.

Shine is that light within you. It motivates us and it brightens our path. When we are down, afraid or experiencing unknown territory, it is what you say to yourself (your beliefs and thoughts) that determines if your light will stay bright or fade. 

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) announced last Wednesday during a press conference to industry media that the organization will consolidate its three major annual events to one location over a four-day period in October, and will call it, “The Best of HFTP.” 



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Winning More Group Business: How Sales and Revenue Work Together to Avoid FOMO

09/12/2018
by Kristi White
Group Performance and FOMO
 
The hospitality industry is in an unprecedented period of growth. However, this growth has not been driven by group. In the past decade, transient growth has outpaced group growth in a dramatic way. Transient business has increased 53.7 percent vs. only 7.5 percent for group business. As a measure of mix, group business has gone from just shy of 40 percent contribution to less than 32 percent. However, the news is not all doom and gloom. From an ADR perspective, group rates are growing at a slightly higher pace than transient rates (13.9% increase in group ADR vs. 12.1% for transient ADR).

These trends are creating angst in both sales and revenue teams. And all of it is leading to an overwhelming feeling of FOMO, or the fear of missing out. FOMO is also exacerbating the sometime adversarial relationship between sales and revenue management. 
 
To better understand the ongoing battle, it is necessary to see the issue from both sides of the fence.

 
Revenue Management
 
Sales
Focused on overall budget of the hotel and achieving it Focused on individual or group business goals
Obsessed with not displacing higher-rated transient business Obsessed with the “bird in the hand”
Managing stay patterns so as not to create “holes” Managing group base to achieve goals
Occupied with indices Occupied with the customer relationship
 
 
Given these contradictory goals and frameworks, how can these two teams work together to overcome FOMO and win the best business, transient or group, for their property? 

 
How Sales and Revenue Teams can Overcome FOMO to Win Group Business
 
What methods can we employ to overcome FOMO? Each team will need to make some concessions and adjustments to create buy-in from the other team.
 
Data must lead the way to making all strategic decisions. But first, the revenue team must be able to show the accuracy of the data. This means not only sharing the forward-looking data but also lifting the hood on the historical forecast and how the hotel performed relative to it. This practice will create trust in the certainty of the forecast. Trust will build confidence.
 
The forecast must go beyond a total number for the month. To allay the fear of FOMO it is necessary to deepen the level of forecasting. It’s not enough to forecast by month and segment into transient and group. The forecast should break out by day and down to sub-segments within each of those categories. This way every member of the team can truly understand what would be displaced. 
 
Separate and definitely not equal goals must go away. The two teams should have comparable incentive plans and they must all be tied to profit
 
The sales team needs to employ alternate date pricing for all groups. They should be prepared to price for the initial set of dates and at least two alternates dates. Ideally, at least one set of dates should be a need period for the hotel. If the sales team is effectively using the daily forecast, they should be able to determine those dates with minimal guidance.
 
Both teams need to understand and agree on how displacement is calculated. And both teams need to agree upon what the acceptable level of displacement is.
 
Acquisition costs need to be considered when making decisions on both sides of the business equation. All business is not created equally and profit should be considered when determining the true value of the business.
 
Profit across all spend is the final component. Too often we skew to group business because of the ancillary spend. However, if you understand the ancillary spend of your transient guests it might be they are spending an equal amount daily plus bringing in a higher daily room rate.
 
 
Forecasting: Say No to FOMO
 
Forecasting is about more than what you will do. It is also what you can do (unconstrained). Understanding demand at a granular level will help you better manage the flow of business.  
 
Most revenue managers have a strong feel for what transient demand will be. Where the sales team can be of help is by providing them the tools to understand group demand. Often sales teams don’t enter all leads into their sales and catering platforms. They stick with entering the hotel leads they feel certain will convert. This doesn’t provide a true understanding of the demand for group. By entering all leads, hot or not, into your system, revenue managers can begin to understand the demand for group which will lead to more accurate forecasts and better rate recommendations for groups. 
 
Lead time is another important metric. Since groups typically book much further out, knowing the true demand will help both teams make better decisions on when to take a chance on groups and when to take a pass. 
 
Monitoring pace and pickup as two separate metrics for both group and transient business will provide both teams with an understanding of how transient business is building as well as how groups are performing. Additionally, by tracking the pickup of groups, both teams can work together to reduce blocks earlier thus giving inventory back to the transient side while there is more than enough time to sell those rooms.
 
Two final notes: first, forecasts are not static items to be set and forget. They need to be updated regularly (at least weekly). Second, they need to be communicated to all key stakeholders. This keeps everyone on the same page and equally accountable. 
 
By adopting these practices, the sales and revenue teams will be unstoppable. With these two functions in alignment, and the right data metrics in place, you will capture the best business, group or transient, to ultimately increase your profits. 
 
About The Author
Kristi White
Vice President Of Product Management
Knowland


Kristi White is a recognized expert in her field, she is a frequent speaker on revenue management and distribution at industry conferences and hospitality schools. She was a member of the Board of Directors for the HSMAI Revenue Management Special Interest Group. Kristi has a B.A. in Political Science from Louisiana State University and a Certified Hospitality Sales Professional and Certified Hospitality Supervisor certification from the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

 
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