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Carol Verret / November 2004
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November 2004

The most recent Smith Travel Report indicates that occupancy or demand for the third quarter rose by 2.6%, year to date by 3.6% and in September alone by a whopping 7.1%! REVPAR increased by 6.4% in the third quarter, 7.5% year to date and a stunning 11.2% in September. It is obvious that September numbers drove most of the third quarter gains.

While there are no hard statistics for the same period for online bookings, the limited stats that we have from hotel companies and individual booking channels ranges from 17% to 50% over last year. We do know that most consumers, from leisure travelers to groups are finding and qualifying the hotel online prior to ever contacting us.

Given the stats above, how does your hotel's sales department productivity measure up? How well have they integrated online functionality into the processes of the sales department's day-to-day operations?

A hotel owner stated to me at the end of 2003 "My bookings from online sources have increased by about 37% over last year, my sales department productivity is flat. Guess where I am putting my resources next year -- the web site and managing online channels."

At a recent seminar, the participants were hungry to learn about using the Internet in every step of the process -- from prospecting to guided virtual tours. We went online to their proprietary or franchise web sites to demonstrate how to conduct a guided virtual tour. Most were shocked by the lack of functionality that either site afforded them in this process.

There are a variety of issues that affect the functionality of these processes online. Many of the tools are inexpensive and easy to accomplish -- we need to expand the notion of how we conduct sales to include online tools as standard operational processes

New Business Development. There are a variety of online resources available to the sales department, many by market segment. The sales department needs to be working these with the same intensity that they work trace files. If your sales department isn't making these a vital component of their prospecting activity, you can be sure that other hotels are -- and gaining market share from these sites.
 

Pre-Approach Qualifying. There is so much information on the web -- at the click of a mouse. The sales staff should be accessing information about their prospects prior to contact so that they know if they are worth pursuing. They need to know which factors to look for in reports that indicate the potential of a prospect to produce and to make a judgment about those in which they should be investing their time.

Using E-Postcards. E-postcards can be created quickly and effectively at a desktop PC. Their uses span individual prospect approaches to creating targeted e-blasts that fly under the radar of spamming. A little creativity and basic computer skills are all that are required.

E-flyers. These range from the extremely clever to the purely informative. They make an excellent vehicle for customer relationship management and to inform a broad range of guests and clients, who have given permission to receive them, of changes at the hotel and special promotions.

E-stationary. Make your hotel's email correspondence from all departments stand apart from the rest of the hotel e-chatter that hits your clients' Inbox! This can be designed to have the same look and feel as the web site and online brochures (you do have online brochures, don't you?)

E-brochures. While printed brochures are not quite yet dinosaurs, how many do you have left in your hotel supply closet from the 50,000 that you ordered prior to the new renovation and addition of high-speed Internet access to your amenity list? At a panel discussion of meeting planners, they all indicated that they have cleaned out or eliminated their massive file cabinets full of hotel sales kits. The meeting planners unanimously agreed that they would prefer to have brochures and sales kits electronically so that they can be downloaded as needed.

The Web Site. All too often the web site is developed without the input of sales or consideration of how it can be used as a sales tool -- not just a design masterpiece. The inclusion of design elements and photography that appeals across and to many market segments makes it more functional for the generation of group leads. Franchise web sites offer the opportunity to include multiple photos but many hotels only include the exterior and maybe one other photo! The description screens are rarely edited to reflect seasonality and special packages. The reservation function is awkward at best -- at worst it doesn't interface with the property management system.

At an annual sales meeting of a medium sized hotel company to which I presented a seminar based on these issues, I was asked, "Does this mean that we won't need sales people any more?" I answered a qualified "No" -- qualified because those sales people who can't incorporate e-tools into their processes risk becoming irrelevant!



CVCT, Carol Verret Consulting and Training, offers consulting and seminars on incorporating using e-tools to enhance productivity and functionality well as revenue management and customer service. Our associate, Tony D'Angelo, specializes in HR consulting and seminars. Contact Carol at and log onto the company web site www.carolverret.com. The company can be reached by phone at (303) 618-4065. Log on for info about live web casts and online training modules that also address these issues.

copyright © Carol Verret, 2002-2003 -2004


 
Contact:
Carol Verret
5910 S. University #C-18, PMB 374
Greenwood Village, CO 80121
Telephone: (303) 618-4065
carol@carolverret.com
Web Site: http://www.carolverret.com/
Email: carol@carolverret.com
Also See: The GM'S Role in Revenue Management / Carol Verret / October 2004
Transforming the Hotel Sales Organization; Alignment with the New Realities of Sales / Carol Verret / August 2004
The Revenue Management Strategy - The Pre-Plan Marketing Plan / Carol Verret / July 2004
Hotel Revenue Management this Summer - a Game of Skill, Art and Most of All Nerves / Carol Verett / May 2004
What Do Meeting Planners Want? Hotel Sales Managers Want to Know! / Carol Verret / May 2004
Revenue Management -- The Integration of Revenue Drivers / Carol Verret / March 2004
CYBER SALES -- Hotel Sales in an Internet World is the New Reality / Carol Verret / February 2004
The New Realities of Hotel Sales - Focus on Revenue Generation / Carol Verret / January 2004
Hotel Sales -- Innovation in the Face of Limitations / Carol Verret / November 2003
The Good News & the Bad News; Improving Economy = New Hotel Development / Carol Verret / October 2003
Leadership - General Managers Managing the Sales Process / Carol Verret  / October 2003
When the Crystal Ball is Cloudy; Marketing Plans for 2004 / Carol Verret / July 2003
Partnership of Sales and Technology; Using Tech Tools to "Sell" the Hotels / Carol Verret  / July 2003
Back to the Basics? The Basics of Hotel Sales Have Changed! / May 2003
Creating Sales "HUNTERS": The Skill Sets Required in the New Hotel Sales Environment / April 2003
Heightened Security Requires New Strategies in Hotels Sales / Carol Verret Consulting and Training / Mar 2003
Revenue Recovery - Building The ‘A’ Team in Sales / Carol Verret / January 2003
Contingency Marketing Plan – War In Iraq! / Carol Verret / November 2002
Playing the Rate Game - Positioning -- Positioning -- Positioning! / Carol Verret / October 2002
The Rate Game - Playing to Win / Carol Verret / October 2002
The Challenge of Marketing Independent Boutique Hotels / Carol Verett / August 2002
Hotel Sales in a Limited Service Environment - The Rules Have Changed / Carol Verett / August 2002
The General Manager’s Role in Sales -Chief Marketing Officer of the Hotel / Carol Verret / April 2002
100% Market Share Penetration is Not Good Enough / Carol Verett / January 2002
The Key to REVPAR Recovery –  New Business Development / Carol Verett / December  2001
Trash the 2002 Marketing Plan - And Just Start Over / Carol Verett / September 2001
How to Use Consultants Effectively –  A View From the Other Side  / Carol Verret / August 2001
How Soft Is Your Hotel's Economic Landing?  / Carol Verret / Aprl 2001
The ‘Value Proposition’: Marketing Yourself to Prospective Employees / Carol Verret / January 2001
Generation Y:  Motivating and Training a New Generation of Employees / Carol Verret / November  2000
Why Customer Service Seminars Don't Work / Carol Verret / October 2000
Creating a Culture of Customer Service / Carol Verret Consulting and Training / Sept 2000 
FAT, DUMB AND HAPPY – The Seasonal Boom and  Bust Cycle / Carol Verret / August 2000
Surf's Up - Ride the Wave or Miss the Boat -The Effective Use of Technology in Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / July 2000 
Measuring Effectiveness of  Hotel Sales Departments / Carol Verret / June 2000
Hotel Sales Training - The Need for Immediate Results / Carol Verret/ May 2000



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