Five Tips for Increasing Sales in the Hotel Industry
As the economy continues to rebound, the hospitality industry has shown prolonged signs of growth. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has documented steady hiring gains over the last few years, adding approximately 27,000 jobs every month since its lowest point in 2008. This means that there are 425,000 more people currently employed by the hospitality industry than before the economy faltered in 2007.
This documented increase in jobs is indicative of continuing growth in the industry. Clearly, there is reason for hotel managers to feel hopeful about the future given the strong growth rates. However, only hotels that leverage this growth will truly benefit. This means that it is important for managers to look carefully at their practices and work hard to improve revenue streams. To do this, carefully implemented selling and up-selling is essential since these practices can fill more rooms and increase conversions.
To start this process, consider the following tips:
1. Leverage call centers.
Good managers know the importance of delegation. There is a reason hotels employ staff members to do different jobs. Housecleaning employees are not asked to tend the front desk. Receptionists are not expected to perform maintenance. This is because these individuals are all trained for their specific jobs. Asking them to work outside that training would be a waste of time and resources.
This principle is obvious and yet many hotels do not direct the task of selling and up-selling to trained salesmen. While front desk staff can take reservations, they are often not well equipped to up-sell. It is smart, therefore, to use call centers. Call centers take calls regarding reservations, ensuring a standardized response to every inquiry. Call centers also provide intense sales training, giving employees strategic knowledge to better reach consumers. By having specific staff for this purpose, the entire process is streamlined, maximizing the potential for success.
2. Coordinate with sales.
While many hotels have daily staff meetings, it can be harder to arrange meetings with salespeople since they are often working throughout the country. However, this range is why it is especially important to arrange weekly conference calls to go over revenue management strategies.
These meetings should be carefully organized with an established agenda. It is best if the salespeople have copies of the agenda in advance and know what is expected of them at the meeting. This way, the meetings will be streamlined and effective, producing usable results each week.
Topics should include new ways to increase conversions, plans to improve up-selling and more. These meetings should also be geared toward creating a better understanding of the market and brainstorming methods to reach the market under current conditions.
3. Remember customer service.
Customer service is a crucial part of success. Guests are most likely to interact with front desk associates, housekeepers or kitchen staff. The quality of these interactions often has a large impact on a guest’s overall experience. This is why it is important to remember to include these staff members in the overall revenue plan.
These staff members should be trained to think of themselves as representatives of the hotel. They should consider every action as a means of increasing conversions and advertising the brand. This can encourage staff to be more productive and especially courteous since every small interaction can potentially lead to increased traffic and higher profits.
More than that, these staff members are well situated to receive guest feedback. This feedback should always be relayed to the sales team in order to modify techniques and maximize sales.
4. Be realistic.
All businesses need to look to the future in order to make decisions. This forecasting is essential in determining staff assignments, new hires and more. It can be tempting to paint an overly optimistic view of the future. After all, strong goal setting is usually necessary for success. However, forecasting should not be confused with long-term goal setting. Forecasting must be realistic in order to avoid overspending and creating waste.
In the volatile economic climate, realistic forecasting can be especially difficult since tepid numbers can seem to indicate a problem. However, using accurate numbers is the only way to ensure that all resources are used properly. An overly optimistic forecast will result in mismanaged staff and misdirection of funds. For short-term stability, realistic forecasting can ensure that resources are used correctly.
Forecasting is highly variable, and it is not an exact science. Many factors are involved with creating an accurate forecast, but it is important to always let forecasts dictate procedure, not the other way around.
5. Perform system audits.
No one likes an audit, but the fact is, audits are merely acts of accountability. Audits are critical methods of checking efficiency and accuracy within a system. For hotels, while there are many systems that can benefit from internal audits, one place that is often neglected is the booking system.
Modern booking systems rely heavily on computerized technology. Because of this, many hotels can use the system itself for auditing purposes. Then it is possible to see patterns, trends and potential problems. These audits can dictate policy and be used for rate configuration. After all, rates should be established well in advance to accommodate early planners. The only way to know what future rates to use is to understand the success of past rates.
An audit will reveal booking habits and patterns, allowing hotels to customize their rates and effectively leverage the market to yield maximum success.
With a thriving market, hotels need to be purposeful. Even though the market is strong, success is not guaranteed. To the contrary, only hotels with smart, systematic approaches will flourish, which makes it more important than ever to improve selling and conversion techniques. Every hotel will develop a different approach since the needs and assets of any given property will vary dramatically. It is important to use these strategies as needed in order to develop a sales plan that works for short-term gains and long-term success. _
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