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Neil L. Salerno, CHME, CHA

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"What the Heck is Hotel Revenue Management, Anyway?"

 

Six “Maxi’s “ Guaranteed To Boost Hotel Sales

By Neil Salerno

Creativity comes in many shapes and forms. As with good inventions, the best creative ideas come from necessity. In recent weeks, prognosticators have announced the good news that most business indicators have been positive for a big recovery in 2004. This is good news for all of us in the industry, but to be sure that your hotel gets its fair share of the recovery, it will be necessary to make certain that your sales team is building on a solid foundation.

Here is my set of basics upon which to build; add your own creative twist to implement them.

1.  Maximize Repeat Sales 

It’s nearly impossible to build sales volume with new sales alone. Identify and court those clients who stuck by you through thick and thin. Each sales person and the general manager should be “married” to specific individual accounts. Your competition is going to marshal an attack on them, if they haven’t done so already.

Recognize their loyalty to you. One of my clients created a loyalty plaque, which is presented with great pomp and circumstance to their loyal group clients. Another creative idea is to set a schedule to invite repeat clients to have dinner with the sales account person and the general manager on a regular basis.

Give preferred treatment to your best clients. Remember the still-valid 80-20 rule. 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your clients. I have never been a big fan of generalized reward programs, but they do work. As a twist of creativity, try creating individual awards to suit each repeat client. Find their “hot button” and create a rewards program to fit those rewards, which turn them on.

2.  Maximize The Revenue Per Sale Per Client

I once had a boss and mentor who used to say “ I don’t want to hear change jingling in their pockets when they walk out the door”. Although this isn’t meant to be taken literally, the message is clear. Many sales people today still need to develop the patience to probe and prod for opportunities to maximize each sale. 

Room sales people need to probe for banqueting opportunities and catering sales people need to probe for room sales opportunities...with every booking. A strong rapport with competing hotels is an open door to overflow opportunities. 

Your sales team should learn to explore opportunities to get more of each client’s business. There is never a better time to do this than immediately after a contract is signed. 

3.  Maximize Client Loyalty

With the electronic means available to us today, we can easily identify how much business each client contributes to our bottom-line. Through good sales detective work, each sales person needs to determine how much potential business lies within each new client. 

Remember not all clients are created alike. Some, the 20 percent, demand more attention than others, the 80 percent. It is essential to identify these potential maxi-clients and begin creating loyalty with the very first booking. Begin by making sure the arrangements are flawless. Sometimes the first booking is small, a meeting planners “test” of your hotel. Judge a potential maxi-client by their total business potential and not by the size of a single booking. 

Loyalty is built upon good service and strict attention to detail.

4.  Maximize Cross Selling

Unless your hotel is the only hotel in your company’s inventory, you have an opportunity to maximize cross selling within your company. Can you honestly say that all your major clients know about all the hotels in your company portfolio? If not, why not?

It simply doesn’t cost much time or effort to make them understand the strengths of your company. Oh I know the old refrain, “it costs too much money to revise our printed material every time a hotel joins or leaves our inventory”. This is no longer true for most companies. The age of the computer allows us to tailor each piece of stationary, promotion piece, and web site, within minutes, at little or no additional cost. You have an opportunity to cross sell within your own company brand.

Compare client databases within your company. Your not-so-big client may be the biggest client at another hotel in your company. Can you hear opportunity knocking?

5.  Maximize Your Web Site Sales

You already hear and read so much about this maxi, yet I feel that there are still so many misunderstandings about the Internet. It is simply the single most revolutionary, most important marketing tool ever devised in our lifetimes. 

You know, by now, that it is just not enough to have a website. It’s construction; design, functionality, and marketing are critical to the results you receive now and in the future. Consult an expert. The return from even minor investments is major. 

The easiest way a competitor may take control of a marketplace is to take charge of your local electronic web market.

6.  Maximize Your Referral Network

Many years ago, I read a book about a man who actually wore a very uncomfortable piece of cardboard under his dress shirt simply to remind him to ask for referrals. Now I don’t think we need to go to that extent. What we need to do is to understand the power inherent in the use of referrals. 

Referrals create a temporary atmosphere of trust, which is the basic foundation of good business practices. Starting a new relationship with this basic principle already in place is a great advantage. Get your team into the habit of asking for referrals from every client. You will be amazed at the results.

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