By Isis Darios
Let’s face it, hotel sales can be complicated. Depending on the size of your property, sales teams will vary significantly, and with lingering labor shortage issues, hotel sales managers are often left with the challenge of hitting their sales goals and ensuring consistent occupancy with limited resources.
Finding the right people to be part of your sales team is critical so you can achieve more with fewer resources. Sales jobs require diverse skills, from engaging with in-house guests to cold-calling corporate clients. Sales teams need to be able to collaborate with other hotel team members, such as general managers and revenue managers, to develop and reach realistic revenue and sales goals.
Read on to learn more about what hotel sales teams do and strategies to help boost your hotel sales.
What do hotel sales teams do?
The number one goal for hotel sales teams is to sell more rooms and secure business throughout the month, quarter, and year. Most sales teams can be split into three market segments:
This market often has the highest success rate of all three sources and includes relationship-building with corporations to host its business travelers. For this market, sales teams will benefit from having a strong business relationship with their local OTA market managers to get information about local market trends and other hotels’ promotions in order to be more competitive. Corporate biz can yield a decent ADR and usually offers a steady stream of occupancy during the shoulder nights.
This market involves establishing contracts for a minimum amount of room nights per month at an agreed-upon contracted rate. Airline and construction crews are great groups to target for new business. Contract business usually has the lowest ADR but the longest LOS.
These groups aren’t ideal for urban markets that already have high demand, but are perfect for suburban and highway hotels because they guarantee a minimum occupancy for a long period of time, sometimes a year or more! This is why extended-stay hotels often yield a higher RevPar and save on operating costs.
This market includes booking hotel business for large groups like weddings, family reunions, bachelorette parties, and more. Typically these are one-off events and do not ensure consistent revenue; however, they can be pretty profitable depending on the type of hotel group. While these groups are typically one-off events, they commonly yield the highest ADR and can help build a solid base business during shoulder periods.
Hotel sales members are responsible for finding prospects through cold-calling, email, and social media, attending conferences, tradeshows, and other events to promote their hotel’s brand and network with those in the hospitality industry.
The work doesn’t end for your hotel sales team once the sale is made. Relationship nurturing is another crucial aspect of the job to ensure account retention. Following up regularly with clients can help your property stay top-of-mind when booking again.
The director of sales should prioritize the reviewing of results from the most recent period (monthly or quarterly) with their team to determine areas of success and opportunities for growth. Having measurable goals for your team to hit each period can help them to stay on track.
How to build a hotel sales team
Due to the effects of the pandemic, as of October 2021, there were 300,000 fewer workers in the hotel industry than just two years prior. Hotel sales teams were among the first groups to be laid off during the pandemic, and management is now struggling to find qualified talent to fill these roles.
While sales teams will differ based on property size and type, when building a sales team, no matter the size, you must take time to hire the right people for your business. Here are some best practices for building your hotel sales team.
- Ensure you have a well-defined target market. This will help you when interviewing candidates to ensure they have the right experience and proven results.
- Hire salespeople who can fulfill multiple functions in the sales process. For example, your team should consist of individuals who can prospect as well as form connections with different groups of people and nurture long-lasting relationships.
- Your team should be hospitable, friendly, and, most importantly, consist of great listeners. The key to a successful sales organization is delivering value to your customers by understanding what’s important to them.
- Make sure your team members work well with others. Your team will work cross-functionally across the hotel with catering managers, general managers, front desk staff, and more to ensure that a customer’s experience meets expectations once they arrive.
- Invest in training. During initial training, your sales staff should be educated on your specific room types, room rates, services, upsell opportunities, local offerings, and more. Remember, customers today have access to tons of online information, so your staff should be well-versed in your competitors‘ strengths and weaknesses to successfully handle objections and questions from prospects.
What is the difference between hotel sales and marketing?
Hotel sales and marketing teams work in tandem with one another to deliver on hotel revenue goals. Marketing teams create brand awareness and share relevant content through social media, paid ads, press releases, and more (take a look at our hotel marketing strategies). Sales teams foster relationships, negotiate contracts, search for new business through outbound prospecting, and nurture inbound leads to close deals.
Together these groups play a pivotal role in the hospitality sales process.
12 essential strategies to boost your hotel sales
While hotel sales can be challenging, it’s gratifying to form new business relationships that can last years. Here are a few strategies for your hotel sales team to use:
1. Implement a sales commission structure.
Incentivize your team with a well-thought-out commission program. Usually, these consist of a percentage of sales paid on top of an annual base salary.
2. Have your sales team be active on social media.
Social channels like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and even TikTok can be a great way to network and connect with prospects. Promote last-minute deals, packages, contests, and property updates to your network, and consider tagging prospects in the comments for ultimate visibility.
3. List your property on venue marketplaces.
Marketplaces can help you promote your property to planners from across the world. These sites often feature hotel workspaces, meeting rooms, group accommodations, and event spaces.
4. Ensure your sales and marketing efforts are aligned.
If your property separates sales and marketing functions, ensure they are in frequent communication to align on strategy, messaging, and target audiences.
5. Set clear expectations for your sales teams.
Set weekly or monthly goals for your sales team and consistently track their efforts. Make sure to celebrate wins and award your teams for a job well done to keep morale and retention rates high.
6. Spend time hiring the right team.
In the hospitality industry, it can be challenging to find qualified talent. Don‘t cut corners to hire; spend time interviewing candidates to ensure their values and strengths align with your property.
7. Work closely with your revenue manager.
Sales and the revenue management person or team should be closely aligned to ensure proper rates are communicated to prospects and customers.
8. Form partnerships with local convention and visitor bureaus (CVB).
CVBs will often recommend hotels and venues to event planners. These RFPs are generally more qualified than regular leads.
9. Attend local tradeshows for tourism and travel.
At local tradeshows, you can make valuable connections across the industry with travel agents and other hoteliers. You can also see what’s new in the industry and ensure that your hotel’s services and amenities are competitive.
10. Track local events that draw large groups to your city.
Stay on top of important events throughout the calendar year, and focus your outreach on event organizers to see if you can bundle your hotel rooms with the event.
11. Offer special group rates.
12. Create package rates for different groups.
Develop package rates for your different target groups as part of your sales strategy. For example, your corporate group rate could include complimentary dry cleaning and airport shuttle service.
Hotel sales can be challenging, but it’s also one of the most rewarding lines of work. Working to deliver a guest experience that exceeds expectations and provides life-long memories is invaluable.
To keep your team happy and motivated, ensure that they have realistic and measurable sales goals and are being recognized for their work. Make ongoing training a priority and invest in repeatable strategies that deliver results.