Hotel Sales Incentive Plans: Friend or Foe?

By Brenda Fields Founder, Fields & Company | May 19, 2010

Ensuring that the sales team is highly motivated and productive is an ongoing process, regardless of the size or type of property. There are many ways to ensure success, one of which is incentive plans. But, to achieve the desired results, it is important to know that when it comes to incentive plans, one size does not fit all. Effective incentive plans take on many shapes and sizes, depending on the needs of the property and the business mix of the property. And as a note, an incentive plan does not replace skilled sales managers working in an organized, professional, and strategic manner. It should be the icing on the cake to ensure that good sales people are going the extra distance and have added motivation to prospect, overcome customer objections, and effectively handle product or service deficiencies.

This article addresses key components to consider in customizing an effective plan which motivates and rewards the sales manager and/or sales team and at the same time, produces the optimal financial results for the property.

Key Points to Consider and Questions to Address:

A hotel room is a perishable product

Unlike other products, a hotel room has a very short shelf life. What we don't sell today is forever gone. Conversely, if demand exceeds our inventory, we cannot produce more rooms to sell. Therefore, the key is to sell effectively on a daily basis. Another factor is that hotel rooms have varying values depending on demand patterns. The same room can sell for widely different rates depending on the day of week and season. Selling rooms in peak season usually is a function of "taking orders" rather than excellent sales skills, which is required in persuading a group to book your property over another one in a buyer's market.

An effective plan is one which motivates and rewards the individual and or sales team for great achievement and at the same time, produces the best financial results for the hotel. Rewarding a team to book business which actually displaces revenues happens when a basic understanding of your business goals has not taken place or the strategic plan was not well founded. So, before going forward with a plan, it is important to assess the following for your hotel.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.