What’s next for hotel salespeople?

We continue to be in a weird time in the hotel business.  Business will be coming back so we need to prepare, but as salespeople, what exactly does that mean?  Not a lot of customers (except the national guard) are booking much for the next quarter or two.  But there is some business out there right now, so should we be prospecting for that business?  Tentatives are taking place for Q3, and Q4 is looking downright exciting.  But, what is the best way to spend our time right now?  That is the question I have been asked most frequently. 

I don’t have a crystal ball but I do have some common sense advice based on a lot of research – as well as a long history of selling.  And that has led to my latest top ten things salespeople should be doing today.

1 – Set some goals

You have probably been given some numbers to produce for the year but you need to figure out how you are going to get there – and of course exceed them.  They are likely backloaded, so know exactly what you need to do on the front end to make those numbers on the backend.  Here is a link to a video I use in my Influencer Sales class that talks about the sales and marketing conversion funnel – it should give you a pretty good idea of how many calls/contacts you will need to make to realize your numbers.  Map it out.

2 – Talk to your past top customers 

Ideally, you have stayed in touch with them even if they haven’t been calling you for business.  If you haven’t, it isn’t too late.  There are a lot of ways you can reach out.  My recommendation is to send out a video email.  It is what it sounds like.  It is a video of you, saying hello, saying you have been thinking about them, that you wanted to let them what is going on at your property and that hope they are doing well.  That is it.  The more personal the better – with apps like Dubb you can make and send them for free, it just takes a little time and planning.  The open rate on video emails is about 3 times higher, just fyi. 

3 – Identify what has changed in your market

What has happened in your competitive set over the last year?  Make sure you know the current state of everyone.  What hotels are closed?  What hotels closed so that they could do some long overdue renovations and when will they be opening again?  I would do a SWOT on your competition to see what all you will be up against in the not too distant future.

4 – Identify who is likely to travel first.  What industries, what roles, for what reason

According to McKinsey & Company, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and construction will travel first – regionally first.  The roles will be sales people or operations people traveling for client meetings or essential business operations. 

Next will be tech, real estate, financial and energy – domestic travel only.  These will be internal company meetings, training programs and other small gatherings. 

Finally, healthcare, education and professional services will resume with industry conferences, tradeshows,etc.  Government will likely continue to have travel needs.

This data is national – each market of course will be a little different – especially on the leisure side.  But for group sales, the targets listed above will be a great place to start.  I give a ton more detail on how to find and reach out to these  contacts in my modern prospecting online class.

5 – Start a prospecting routine

Start today, start small if you must, but start.  Every single business has been impacted in one way or another by Covid and that is a great place to start on your prospecting calls or emails.  Ask your prospects, what has changed for you?  You may not be able to actually book any business from a good portion of these prospects today – but you can start establishing (or re-establishing) a relationship.  But, start that relationship by asking how they are doing and what has changed for them.  How have their businesses adapted to work from home or travel restrictions?  Are they Zoomed out too?  Has the decision making shifted within their organization?  Just start a dialog – leave the selling to later, once you have a sense of how their business has evolved.

6 – Start a lead nurturing campaign

As you collect information, start to map out a lead nurturing campaign.  This means several touchpoints with the same people over the next several months.  As much as you can, automate it.  Sharing articles with them via email or LinkedIn.  Making and sending additional video emails about your hotel updates.  Follow up emails – prescheduled.  Do as much planning as you can do now to continue to solidify these relationships. There are a lot of apps available to help you do this – my favorite is Snov.io

7 – Figure out some partnerships

2021 and beyond will be more about partnerships than ever before.  We have learned that people are not coming to our property JUST for our property.  They are coming for a variety of reasons – so strike up some partnerships with local businesses or CVBs to start a better flow of information.  For example, get all of your local area restaurants used to letting someone at your hotel know when they are open and closed and convey that info to your guests.  Work on some sales blitzes with your CVB partners – again, perhaps not yet selling directly, but sharing future plans with your audiences. Nearby attractions getting ready to open? These are great partners to do joint promotions – you piggyback on their email list and vice versa. Helping others in your travel community will always help.

8 – Update all of your collateral

By collateral I mean digital and non.  This is of course your website – are there any new targeted audiences you want to reach?  Can you build some packages that might be appealing to them?  But this also means your own social profiles.  And your hotel social profiles.  Are they current?  Are you taking advantage of all of the free promotional “features” on LinkedIn?  How about your proposals and contracts – have you reviewed and updated all of them to reflect our new normal? My advice is to not tackle all of these at once but map out an update plan that lasts all year. Prioritize your website first.

9 – Learn some digital marketing

If there is one thing we all have learned from this last year it is that technology continues to advance and evolve and there are a lot of tools that exist to make our lives easier.  I teach 12 apps in my digital sales training class – 12! And each one is designed to make your life as a seller easier and more interesting for your prospects.  You should be comfortable with some form of video already, but if you are not,  time to learn.  I have also seen an unprecedented number of sales people in my hotel digital marketing essentials class.  Last January we had exactly ZERO and this January, 75% of the class has sales of some sort of sales in their title which is a great sign.  I would love to have you sign up for my class of course but there are a lot of things you can learn on your own.  If you like podcasts, subscribe to Fuel Travel – you will love it.  If you prefer blog posts, join a digital marketing group in LinkedIn.  Here are a few learning resources I would recommend to advance your skills.

Hotel Digital Sales – a six week hybrid class – elearning and weekly hands on workshops covering new technology for hotel sales people.

Hotel Digital Marketing Essentials – a six week virtual classroom covering earned, paid and owned digital media. Each week for 60 minutes, join your facilitators and small class to learn the fundamentals of digital marketing for hotels.

Hotel Business Acumen – do you need to expand your big picture understanding of just how hotels work from a business standpoint? This five week class is informative and fun – using a hotel simulator to let you make decisions and see how you stack up compared to your classmates.

Fuel Travel Podcast – keep up with the latest trends in hotel digital marketing with this informative (and fun) podcast.

Rockcheetah Email List – sign up for this weekly email TODAY! You will get a collection of the best articles hotel marketing expert Robert Cole carefully curates around hotel digital marketing, technology and other critical news around hotels and technology.

LinkedIn Learning – Lynda.com – if you have LinkedIn premium, you get this for free. It is a collection of fantastic learning modules around every topic under the sun. Worth checking out. The premium version of LinkedIn is also helpful for identifying your prospecting list.

CogWheel Marketing Blog – if you work at a branded hotel – this is the marketing blog for you.

Reputation Marketing – Curious about how to improve your hotel’s reputation? You want to read this blog by industry expert Adele Gutman Milne.

Guide for Social Media = from Milestone – fantastic resource for plotting out an effective social plan.

10 – Appreciate your staff and coworkers

I joined the Facebook group Hospitality Family early on during this pandemic and if I have seen one theme over and over it is that nobody is feeling very appreciated right now.  My guess is, you are probably feeling exactly the same way.  Our guests are more difficult, we have less staff, our bosses are more stressed than ever.  There is nothing you can control except you.  The only thing you can do to make a difference is to try to show your appreciation to your coworkers, staff, clients, and family.  Just take a minute and thank someone for showing up, because as you may know first hand, that alone might have been tough for them to do.  Share some joy, share something funny, everyone will appreciate it, and you.  I recently began fostering six puppies and it is a lot of work!  But I make it a point to share some darling puppy pictures every single day because it is something I can do to bring a little sunshine into someone’s life. 

It is a big list, I know, and please don’t let this make you feel overwhelmed!  You don’t need to do all then things today, or even this week.  But if you are trying to figure some plans, the above is a good place to start.  Good luck from me, and my puppies (no, I am not completely crazy – I am just fostering this crew of six puppies and their mom for a few weeks!).

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