The Return to Profitability: Why Old Sales Strategies Will Not Work
Hotel business will be different in the post-COVID world. Corporate account players will change. Execs and meeting planners you did business with might be gone; furloughed, or let go. In their place are new hires and managers doing multiple jobs. They will be unfamiliar with their predecessor’s relationships and the events their company cancelled in March. Their group’s meeting decisions will be based on value and their own criteria; not on a past relationship or what their predecessor planned. Now is the time to pick up the phone and meet them.
Reaching out early to corporate accounts to establish new relationships and reinstate existing partnerships is the fastest way to return to profitability as travel restarts.
There are no leads, this is basic sales
Automated email sales processes worked fine before CV19. But with staff furloughs and layoffs contacts will have changed. Many email addresses will not be valid or be routed to a new person in the organization. New people will be in place at regional levels and new relationships will have to be created. The best sales people are going back to basic sales and cold calling their accounts to confirm relationships. If their contacts are gone, they are introducing themselves and their properties to build a new business partnership. Today there are no leads; this is basic prospecting. Recreating corporate client relationships is essential to solidify the rebooking of cancellations.
Property and hotel group selling is being consolidated due to reduced staffing. Area sales directors are taking point to cut labor costs since occupancy is not forecasted to return to pre-CV19 levels quickly in some markets. Properties are contacting clients with personal outreach to learn what is needed and to help clients plan events and restart their meeting schedules. They are exchanging viewpoints with clients about their post-CV19 comfort level, documenting their feedback, then scheduling call-backs or, best case, rebooking events based on the clients’ individual timing.
Don’t assume your client will automatically rebook
Human interaction will trigger the hotel sales process post-CV19. Don’t assume your clients will automatically rebook their meeting. The new person at your client’s company may not know you or your property. Sales people who take the time to use the phone and get personal information from clients, record their needs, and create a trace to follow up will close more business. The hotels that survive will be the ones that create meaningful relationships with their clients.
In a strong industry, automated sales programs are successful, but this is not the industry we see now. There is a need today for close personal communication. Benefit selling will be essential. This is sales 101. Sales people have to listen to what their clients need and match their offering to the need. Lower cost meetings are the primary need as we emerge from CV19. Offering event bookings that meet the client’s new budget are a good starting point. Leverage your sales system to record client requests. If you do not have a sales system, find the most cost-effective system that will generate fast, attractive RFP responses with high-impact visuals, and that is easy to use. Solid technology will help you strengthen your personal sales prospect interaction and close more deals.