Here are the 5 Big Things That Keep Hotel Sales Managers Up at Night
Being part of a hotel sales team is a challenging job. Quite frankly, being a hospitality professional – regardless of your scope – is no easy job. The hospitality industry is an ever-shifting, ever-demanding industry that twists and bends according to the whim of travelers, which, as you might have guessed, can be hard to satisfy. But as challenging as it may be, the hospitality landscape offers countless opportunities for personal and professional reward; there is something to be said about working within a landscape so firmly rooted in great service, tradition, and human connection and exploration.
I have spent many years working within the ranks of hospitality – from valet to accounting, revenue management, sales, and more – and I now find myself looking in on the industry from the perspective of a technology provider. Much like a loyal customer who begins working for one of their favorite brands, I possess a unique purview into the wants, needs, and pain points of the role I used to occupy: hotel sales. Rather intimately, I know what empowers hotel sales executives and, conversely, what keeps them up at night as they grapple with industry constraints and legacy technology. I understand the passion and diligence of this segment of the hospitality sector, but I also know what obstacles stand in the way of its continued evolution. It is with precisely this idea in mind that I set out to create a technology company for hoteliers. So – you want to know what keeps hotel sales professionals up at night? Here are just a few:
1. A Shot in the Dark
There is no shortage of great sales tactics and best practices for hotel sales managers (and, for that matter, any salesperson) to leverage in the hopes of closing more business, but “knowing your customer” is, perhaps, the most important one. If you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, well, you’re also bound to miss a lot of the shots you take while blindfolded – and that is, traditionally, how sales teams have approached their leads. In reality, most hotel sales teams find themselves staring at a wall that is covered in misplaced darts, with only a select few hitting the target despite their tireless effort.
Without the appropriate technology and processes to sort and qualify RFPs, hotel sales teams are effectively buried under a weekly (if not daily) onslaught of unqualified leads. Often, teams are overburdened and under-empowered, unable to gain critical visibility into the unique needs and preferences of qualified leads and primed for conversion. True white-glove service, especially in the group and events segment, will remain unattainable for hotels until they adopt demand-centric technology that makes personalization at scale possible – and automatic. Because at the end of the day, if you don’t know your customer (let alone understand them), how can you expect to effectively sell to them and win their business? More than ever, hotel companies need to leverage technology that shortens sales cycles, automates time-consuming efforts, leverages data, increases profitable conversions, and delights planners.
2. It Takes a Village
The hospitality ecosystem is complex and delicate, with countless moving parts and key players working together to deliver a consistent, exceptional guest experience. As the classic adage goes, “it takes a village,” but, unfortunately, the village housed within core hospitality teams is relatively sparse at the moment. It’s no secret that our industry has long struggled with high staff turnover – but in the post-pandemic era, this challenge has become more pronounced. In many cases, furloughed staff have not returned to their previous roles or, in some cases, have left the industry entirely. As a result, hotel sales teams are struggling to find (and keep) talent.
Of course, when the sales segment has a notorious reputation for being overwhelmed by demand (RFPs) and unable to effectively manage those leads in a timely manner, a staffing shortage further exposes those gaps in business. So, while hotel brands look to rebuild their village and invest in key talent, it’s imperative that they invest in technology that works in an automated fashion to support sales staff in their daily efforts, improve workflows, and streamline touchpoints and communications.
3. Price Parity
Hotel sales teams may not be in charge of pricing, but pricing significantly impacts what they do (and their success in converting leads into profitable business). If a hotel’s offerings lack consistent pricing across platforms for transient business, business travel, groups, and events, hotel sales teams will likely have a harder time remaining competitive.
Similar to the staffing challenges currently faced by the industry, this isn’t a new issue – the continued growth of OTA’s and, in general, preference for booking online has made it difficult for hotels to maintain consistent pricing across all platforms and listings. However, this affects a hotel’s bottom line. Hotels should also rely on technology that informs a more intelligent, responsive pricing strategy to remain competitive, forecast demand accurately, and continue to drive business during off-peak seasons.
4. Inconsistent Marketing Efforts
Often, there is a breakdown between hotel sales and marketing teams, creating unnecessary headaches for both sides of the business. Hotel sales and marketing, as you might guess, should go hand-in-hand – the efforts of both teams should be aligned, and communication pathways should remain unobstructed.
Unfortunately, when marketing isn’t consistent (especially in group and event bookings), prospective customers may get suspicious and drop out of the sales funnel. Similar to price parity issues, if a marketing initiative promotes different messaging, incentives, and pricing than the website or sales sheet, hotel sales teams may inadvertently provide contradicting information about a hotel’s products, services, and packages. With this in mind, hotels must make a concerted effort to connect their marketing and sales teams to ensure cohesion across both groups as they strive to attract, capture, and convert leads.
5. Spreadsheet Hell
In hotel sales, remaining tech-adverse in the face of continued innovation and heightened industry standards is, for all rights and purposes, a potential nail in the coffin. I don’t say this to be dramatic; it’s simply the truth. Technology adoption has been identified as one of the most significant factors impacting a hotel’s success for years. Overworked sales teams are unlikely to succeed if they still rely on manual processes – let alone spreadsheets. Moreover, sales teams require visibility into data and a centralized view of the sales funnel that only a CRM or similar sales and catering tool can provide.
If there is a better way to do things (and in this case, there absolutely is), shouldn’t hotels move their business in that direction to better support sales staff, scale their operations, and generate more revenue? Conventional sales reports, analytics, and lead logs housed within Excel sheets are, quite simply, making everyone’s job more complicated than it needs to be. We have the technology to seamlessly replace and automate many of these traditional processes – it’s time all hotel brands use it.
Fortunately, as a hotel executive-turned-hospitality-tech-service-provider, I now find myself in a position to better service my former self – because who is better qualified to improve that end-user experience than, well, myself. With modern technology and processes, hotel brands can finally give their sales teams a good night's rest – and I think we’ve all had enough sleepless nights, don’t you?