By Greg Johnson
The fruitful revenue from your top corporate accounts won’t last forever and inevitably you will have to focus on filling rooms midweek with alternative sources of business for the remainder of 2019 and into 2020. Importantly, it has been widely forecasted that the North American hotel market’s corporate revenues are going to be stagnant as we roll into colder months.
No matter what you do to motivate FITs during shoulder and off-peak times, ultimately this is a lot of work for singles and couples and friends. Instead, let’s talk about where your sales efforts are going to provide the most opportunity.
Those big corporate contacts of yours can easily make or break your top line because, first and foremost, they’ll help fill up the Monday to Thursday stayovers that leisure guests simply cannot do. Moreover, even though your offering blocks at a preferred rate, one group sale is on average drastically less manhours per guest than selling purely through channels devoted to individual travelers, thereby saving you resources you can reallocate elsewhere (such as service).
Your online presence and e-commerce strategies also need to be polished up. Like it or not, we are in the digital age and we need to be ahead of the curve rather than having to catch up to our competitors. Hence, to get a jump on forecasted trends and stay at the top of your market, here are three big picture pointers to drum up sales to combat the upcoming changes to the landscape of incoming revenues.
- Sell the biggest value of your hotel. Ultimately, the one thing that makes your hotel stand out above all others is you! Everyone can be a ‘desk jockey’ salesperson by answering incoming leads to the hotel or responding to RFPs. Also understand that there is going to be a greater focus on loyalty from the big brands to combat the influx of new hotels being built. You need to take heart and build customer loyalty to you, as a person rather than a faceless brand, by being a voice in the electronically heavy sales arena.
- Immerse yourself with the 2020 budget. Don’t sit and wait to be told what your revenue targets are. You have to take the initiative to insert yourself into these discussions from the get-go, so each market segment is both challenging but realistic. According to a recent Criteo Travel Report, group RevPAR growth is expected to outgrow transient in the back half of 2019 and this trend will continue into 2020. Never forget that group is a strong area that can financially carry your hotel while others struggle if they continue baking on the transient segment.
- Increase your online presence and initiatives. Over one third of people now use a mobile device to book a hotel room while the OTAs’ share of mobile bookings is now a whopping 45%. Based on statistical information from Smart Insights, conversion rates on desktop for the travel industry are 2.4% but just 0.7% on smartphone. This indicates not only user experience deficiencies but also a lagging mistrust of these platforms or an inability to access the necessary content in order to push customers over the finish line. Thus, make sure your hotel photos and website content are updated and attractive. Ultimately, this is one trend where you need to be ahead of the curve when we are chasing for as much transient share as possible.
Overall, markets are becoming heavier with available hotel rooms and leaner with transient travelers. It is now time to prepare for a more competitive future. By concentrating on these three tips, you will be more prepared for what is coming up in the hospitality landscape.
With a passion for the true art of sales, Greg Johnson is currently the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Newport Hospitality Group. He started his hospitality career in full and select hotels in Idaho and Utah. He then moved to Memphis as the Global Director of Sales and Revenue Management Training for Hilton Worldwide where he was responsible for maintaining all sales and revenue management courses for all Hilton brands. Next at White Lodging Services, Greg managed the sales for 35 properties in the company’s portfolio, consisting of Hilton, Marriott, Starwood and Hyatt brands across the United States. In addition to having the best career around, Greg is a distinguished public speaker, emcee, bowtie aficionado, husband and father of three.