Bridging the Sales Gap in a Post-Pandemic World
A strong economy with numerous demand generators for many hotels meant that for years, many salespeople were kept busy managing existing accounts and dealing with incoming inquiries from various channels (that is, they were farming). Bookings came in from walk-ins, incoming inquiries, and third-party channels, across many market segments.
The hospitality industry can thank a strong economy that delivered these leads—conventions, entertainment, endless sports tournaments, corporate travel, leisure travel, etc. Most hotels also expected their brand to deliver a certain percentage of reservations, so things were humming along for most of the hotel industry between their brand contribution and incoming inquiries.
The other dependency that happened was a hotel’s reliance on online travel agencies (OTAs) for base business. Many hotels would prefer not to work with OTAs because of the high commissions, but in the absence of a proactive sales strategy and base business, OTAs became a major sales channel.
Below the surface, a dangerous trend was unfolding: the sales function wasn’t being properly managed or supported for a time when sales wouldn’t just “happen.” During an economic downtown or an increase in competition such as an oversupply of hotels in your market, those who survive do so because sales is something they have consistently and effectively managed in good times and in bad. They are not starting from scratch—they have experience hunting for new revenue resources. But in 2020, not only did many salespeople not know how to hunt, few (if any) were ever trained in sales fundamentals.
It’s not that they lacked information and data. Most salespeople already had the technology and tools they needed at their disposal, but they were not using the information to better understand the customer. They were not taking the time to do research, and they were not taking the time to understand if they were a fit. On all fronts, it was a mainly a reactive environment, and hotel teams became complacent. When the downturn hit, and hit hard, hotels suddenly faced a re-imagined sales environment, one where salespeople could no longer rely on traditional revenue sources and incoming leads.
Key strategies for bridging the sales gap
With vaccines rolling out and many major corporations lifting travel restrictions, there is a stirring in the industry that is at once exciting and disconcerting. Staffing shortages have increased as many furloughed workers found other positions in the past year. This is quickly becoming the new normal and it will be critical that we accept the fact that previous employees may never return. So how then to fill the staffing gap and reimagine sales to prepare for the recovery. Below, we provide a look at some key strategies to help you rebuild and reinvigorate your sales efforts.
Know What Good Looks Like – Hiring, Onboarding, and Retaining Sales Staff
Today’s sales realities mean that the salesperson you hired ten years ago is not the same as the salesperson you need today. Whether you are rebuilding your team because of turnover and layoffs, or an increase in business, the goal is the same. Building a sales team and not leaving sales to chance means making sure you have the right people in the right seat and have an effective hiring and onboarding program to set them up for success.
Everybody Is in Sales – Or at Least They Should Be
Sales is the lifeblood of any organization. No company has ever succeeded without it. Running a hotel with a sales imperative happens when the responsibility for sales and service extends beyond one person or one department. In every sense of the word, sales is an inside job first, and extends to those on the front lines and those who do it full time for a living. It has a seat at the same table alongside operations, and everyone in the organization understands they own a piece of it. With standards and processes in place for each department, the sales function remains proactive and consistent, not reactive and only thought about when there is an economic downturn, an increase in competition, or a pandemic.
Understand How to Engage with the Modern Buyer – Stop selling like it’s 1990
Many directors of sales, operations staff, owners, and general managers fall under the description of “accidental” salespeople; some are responsible for sales even though it’s not in their job description. Every assignment is different; every brand, franchise, single hotel owner, general manager, or team comes with circumstances and resources unique to them. But they all seem to have one thing in common: they are struggling with sales.
At the end of the day, there’s a lot of work to be done. Disruption such as we have seen this past year will result in a re-evaluation of everything, but especially the way we sell. Gillis has created an innovative turnkey approach to hotel sales that is responsive, knowledgeable, scalable and significantly more affordable than building (or re-building) the expertise from within.
Contact us today to learn more about how Gillis and our Dynamic Sales Solution is helping hundreds of hoteliers across the United States actively pursue sales opportunities on a local, regional and national level.