Tips for Balancing the Hotel's Online and Offline Sales & Marketing Efforts
By Elizabeth Derby Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Hotel Equities | November 11, 2012
It's the age-old question for a sales person…where do I invest my time to get the biggest return? While the local market sales effort is still high on the list, there are now many online efforts that must be addressed as well. It is imperative that hotels look at all of their online and offline sales and marketing initiatives and prioritize them. Then employ the 80/20 rule. Spend your time on the 20% of the accounts that give you 80% of your business.
Details for both online and offline initiatives follow. Define your target markets, consider all your options, and then determine how to invest your time to reach your goals.
Direct Sales – Nothing will ever replace the face-to-face sales call! Developing relationships is at the core of the sales effort and should always be a priority. It is imperative that you have a focused pro-active sales plan in place. You also want to include your entire staff in this effort. Your front desk associates are meeting your customers daily and can provide invaluable information and leads for your sales team.
Hotel Websites - Most branded websites now contribute up to 25% of a hotel's reservations. If you had an account that contributed this much to your hotel, you would be talking to them on a very consistent basis. The same should be done for your website. You should review your site regularly. Make sure that your information is up-to-date and pertinent to the traveler. You should also periodically make reservations from your site to assure that rates are displayed appropriately and the booking can be completed with ease. Most brands offer in-depth analysis tools so that you can take advantage of all brand opportunities. Ensure that your hotel utilizes all of the brand tools to enhance your website for maximum effectiveness and efficiency.
Travel Review Sites – Over half of the travelers today will visit a review site prior to booking their stay at a hotel. While you cannot track revenue from these sites, they have the ability to influence the buying decision of the traveler directly. It is important to reply to all comments on the site (positive as well as negative) and consistently be working to get your ranking to the top of the list. Your hotel should have a strategy in place to drive comments to these sites. Not only does a higher ranking influence people's decisions to book with a hotel, but it also allows a hotel to command a higher rate if it has the positive feedback to support that rate.
Local Marketing Efforts – The partnerships in your local market and with your Chamber and CVB remain a high priority for a hotel sales staff. These organizations are the building blocks of your community and want to help your hotel be successful. The more involved you are, the more return you will see. However, review the large number of community events that you can attend…and prioritize them to make sure that your time is spent at events that can produce a return.