The Online Property Tour - Is your website just a Billboard on the Information Superhighway?

By Douglas Aurand President, Douglas Aurand & Associates | January 27, 2012

The call to the Sales Department comes in, "Hello, I'd like some information about having a wedding reception for 200 people at your hotel." Now you have to convince the bride-to-be your hotel is "thee" place to hold her reception, before she asks you to mail her one of your banquet menu/info packages and moves on calling her list of your competitors for their banquet menu/info packages.

Or the other sales call, "This is James Black with the Really Big Corporation, we're looking for a place to hold our annual convention." Again, you've got seconds, maybe minutes, to make him decide you're the only choice, or at least get on his Top 10 list.

Of course your Reservationists have this challenge every day, like trying to upsell a suite to an anniversary couple, "What's the difference between your $85 suite and your $125 suite?" was the question in the famous "Think Strawberries" speech by James Lavenson of the Plaza Hotel, New York, NY. Can your reservationists do better than the "Forty Dollars" answer Lavenson got in 1975?

There wouldn't be a problem if you could magically transport one of your brochures over the telephone or if they were visiting your property. Sales or Reservations would just take them on a Property Tour. You'd show the bride-to-be (mother of the bride and maid of honor in tow) the Ballroom. The Convention Planner would get to see the Ballroom, BreakOut Rooms and Registration Area. Reservations would get room keys and show both of the suites, pointing out your gourmet dining room on the way to the elevators. Did I forget to mention the couple are planning a romantic dinner, too?

The good news is, it is possible to send your brochure over phone lines and take a potential customer on a long distance property tour. All it takes is a well-planned website and a Virtual Tour.

With 72% of Home Internet Users and even more Business Internet Users having Broadband*, talking on the phone and surfing the 'Net at the same time is becoming common. Many home offices that still have Dial-Up, often have a phone line that the computer and fax machine share in addition to the "voice line." The Sales Staff and Reservationists just need to learn the phrase "Can you get on the Internet while we're on the phone?" If the answer is "yes," just guide them to your website; "If you'll just type www.OurGreatHotel.com in the Address Field of your web browser and press Enter, you'll be on our website."

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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.