Today’s restrictions continue to challenge our existing business models.
NB: This is an article from Knowland
Group business is limited depending on local, state and federal gathering guidelines. And now we are beginning to see an increase in local meetings with surprisingly short booking windows (41% of bookings are within 3 days of arrival).
These new times call for us to be more agile and proactive than ever before.
While we continue to pace ourselves and ready for what might come ahead, we are also looking forward to a better, more profitable future. With that said, we believe there are new strategies that successful sales leaders must implement to stem the changes we are seeing in our industry.
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Don’t Take Your Foot Off the Gas
Now is the time to keep your foot on the prospecting gas.
We are seeing that many hotels are just beginning to bring sales teams back, a good sign that savvy leaders are turning to proactively hunting for new business, as opposed to burying their head and hoping for the best.
Smaller sales teams still need to be in frequent communication with the most-likely-to-book customers, so that when a short-term booking opportunity arises, your hotel is the first call the planner makes.
Recent surveys have shown us that both relationship building and consistent communication are important to meeting planners. In fact, since many are looking to book in the short term that means they are calling who they know. So, if you’re not touching customers/potential customers you’re not going to be on that short list.
How to keep accelerating through the turns ahead:
- Allocate 25% of your sales team’s time to new business prospecting (remember, this is not hard selling but getting on your prospect’s radar and learning the state of their business)
- Define what “new business” means for your sellers – catching up with previous customers is always good business, but it’s not new business development. Sales leaders need to set standards for new sales leads and provide the resources for efficiently sourcing that business.
- Focus on local accounts within your drive market. These are the meetings being booked today, so where you should spend your time.
- Target meetings of 50 or less that can be split into multiple rooms. Depending on local guidelines, successful meetings can separate tracks and/or speakers in different rooms. These smaller groups foster discussion and engagement.
- Develop success stories of how people are meeting at your hotel, e.g. small sales kick-offs or corporate planning sessions, using virtual meeting software to connect distributed locations, hybrid virtual and in-person meetings, etc.
- Share good news by showing meetings in your hotel today with photos and videos in your sales kit and social media/email campaigns.
- Measure your prospecting outreach by setting a weekly goal and reporting on performance
Building Traction for 2021
Data shows there is opportunity in 2021. It might not look like the business we are used to, but there is profitable, repeatable group business to capture.
We are seeing significant pent-up demand with the likelihood of strong rebound for groups in Q2 2021, especially small groups within drive markets. This is of course pending the continued positive direction of vaccine development and therapeutics that give people the confidence for safe travel. Again, we believe small groups will dominate through 2021 and 2022, while citywide conventions with longer planning cycles will follow.
Keep in mind, based on pre-COVID analytics, the majority of group meetings are less than 50 attendees (42.4%). The large 1000 plus-person events are outliers for the industry (about 3% of events.)
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