Everyone's a Salesperson! Expand Your Hotel Sales Team with Evangelism Marketing

By Andrew Freeman President, Andrew Freeman & Company | May 19, 2010

Hallelujah. Feel the love and spread the word. And change your philosophy towards sales.

Your sales team can target an increasing number of potential outlets to book business and fill your hotel nowadays. New sales opportunities, like online advertising and third-party e-channels, are as viable a source of business as traditional targets, like print advertising and corporate travel planners. However, this increasing number of potential outlets also means stretching your sales team's limited resources over a greater area. Trying to develop relationships in all of these target markets can be overwhelming, if not impossible, for any hotel sales effort.

So it's time to take a creative look at how you can extend your sales and marketing team without increasing the number of people with "sales" on their business cards or making your sales budget balloon with added expenses. Sometimes known as "evangelism marketing" or "advocacy marketing," the goal is to turn everyone who comes into contact with your hotel into a salesperson. When you have people excited about their experience or interaction with your hotel and your brand, the power of their endorsement and recommendation is stronger, greater and farther-reaching than if you were to spend your entire marketing budget on paid advertising or any other sales promotion available to you. Remember, "they tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on." This is evangelism marketing and it is the most powerful method of marketing you have.

Before turning guests, employees, vendors and others into evangelists for your hotel, there are two things you must do: The first is that you must be an evangelist yourself and believe your hotel is in fact everything it claims to be. If you're not passionate about your product, why should anyone else be? The second thing to do is to confirm that your foundation is solid and your concept is clear. Make sure the amenities and services of your hotel are up-to-date, relevant to who you are, and firmly in place. Be certain that your programs and other features are interesting enough to appeal to the different groups of people who come in contact with your hotel. Think of the power the buzz factor holds in building your business as you review all these elements.

Evangelism marketing can be applied to everyone because everyone fits. The most immediate opportunity to turn people into evangelists comes from your repeat guests. Since it's also their reputation on the line when making suggestions, people will only freely refer something if they believe it is the best. Those loyal guests who come back time and time again believe your hotel is the best for them, so treating them well and acknowledging their loyalty - which is your typical interaction to begin with - provides them the easy opportunity to willingly offer word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals.

Other possibilities to extend your sales team include everyone else who comes in contact with your hotel:

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.