Meet the Visionary Founder Changing the Game for Hotel Sales Teams

Big promises define the world of technology. After all, many digital tools that have transformed the way we work and live today are a direct product of big, innovative ideas that were, at one time, inconceivable. But even in this digital era, skepticism is often warranted as businesses look to vet new platforms and services that come to the table with bold promises. Can the platform really live up to the sales pitch? Are the innovations touted by tech vendors as transformative in practice as they sound in theory? When we look at sales and catering systems, these questions are often the hypothetical elephant in the room as hospitality brands grapple between continued reliance on legacy systems and the adoption of a new-age platform. Are a new platform's additional bells and whistles truly capable of solving the day-to-day challenges hotel sales teams face? Are tech vendors familiar enough with those challenges to build a system created from the ground up with hospitality sales teams in mind?

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Daniel Melnyk, the Founder, and CEO of Parclane, a Hotel Sales Engagement Engine that – you guessed it – comes to the table with lofty promises. Fortunately, it only takes one conversation with Melnyk to conclude that Parclane not only lives up to its sales pitch but has the potential to (finally) transform hospitality’s group business segment for the better.

With an extensive background in hospitality, Melnyk’s foray into hospitality technology was, perhaps, inevitable. Who better to transform the landscape than someone who has, himself, navigated it for much of his career? Prior to bringing Parclane to life, Melnyk worked in sales leadership at (and above) the property level for many years. Time spent in the trenches as a seller, as well as in revenue management, managing P&L and being responsible for driving revenue truly put me in the driver's seat and gave me a unique purview into the world of hospitality group sales, Melnyk explains. Over the years, I was consistently confronted with the same pain points and frustrations, both within my teams and from other hoteliers in the field.

It’s no secret that hotel sales teams have long been buried under a high volume of poorly qualified inbound leads, largely due to the tendency of planners to leverage a “spray and pray” approach to venue and event booking. Labor is frequently misdirected to these leads, diverting attention from other more productive and vital activities like prospecting. It didn’t take long for me to conclude that our industry lacked the right tools and technology to impact lead management and customer engagement more meaningfully.

If you ask Melnyk what inspired him to reconsider the sales and catering technology ecosystem that has traditionally ruled the hospitality sector, his answer is telling. A very different technological world exists outside of the hospitality industry, he begins. Having spent time working outside hotels, in other industries, I saw the availability of technology that helped sales and revenue teams be more efficient and truly innovative, although they still lacked the unique functionality hospitality required. According to Melnyk, although marketing automation has been highly prevalent across other industries for some time, the solutions being leveraged are typically big Saas. These solutions were not easily adaptable to hotels because of the integrations required to support hotel sales processes, legacy technologies in hotel tech stacks, reliance on RFPs, and the general notion of perishable inventory, he explains.

These observations, combined with his experience selling sales and catering technology to hotels, sparked Melnyk’s idea to bring the “best of both worlds” together by capitalizing on what was tried, tested, and true in other B2B sales environments but hotelifying it. Through my hands-on experience in the field, I possessed a deep understanding of hotel technology that so many vendors don’t have – so why not leverage it? We’re not just entrepreneurs who looked for a healthy-sized TAM and dove in. We’re mission-driven, and this is deeply personal for us. And just like that, Parclane was born.

When asked to describe the Parclane platform in 5 words or less, Melnyk answers with a confident, sideways grin. It’s a turbocharger, he explains. While most sales and catering systems focus their automation on activities that sit at the bottom of the sales funnel, such as managing availability, generating proposals, and “servicing” confirmed business agreements like BEOs, Parclane sits in front of the sales and catering system; it is S&C agnostic. We are creating a new category by offering a solution that enhances the traditional sales and catering system, Melnyk explains. Marketing automation isn’t currently leveraged in most hotel sales offices, and there really isn’t an incumbent solution offering a similar product. We took a deliberately enterprise-focused approach because we know that larger hotel companies are generating millions of dollars in annual revenue from group and convention business. The level of sophistication required to elevate this particular hospitality segment requires a best-of-breed solution, and that solution is Parclane. Today, Parclane has established a reputation for solving the hotel sales and catering problem holistically by looking at all aspects of the sales process and leveraging automation capabilities and personalization at scale at each juncture.

In this sense, Parclane is offering hoteliers a powerful new platform and a powerful new way to think about the group sales process. We’re really trying to educate hoteliers on the concept of a sales pipeline while encouraging them to take a deeper look at the steps taken before an RFP comes in, he shares. Essentially, by reducing the reliance on inbound business, we empower hotels to redirect their focus (and labor) upmarket to generate better quality prospects that generate greater returns for their assets.

There is no better time for a solution like this, as the hospitality industry at large faces an undeniably challenging post-pandemic labor shortage. In our industry especially, nobody has enough time or resources to get everything done, Melnyk shares. Hotels have to prioritize and be efficient with labor. From a financial perspective, using technology to drive efficiencies just makes sense. From an employee experience perspective, using technology to improve processes and help sellers reach better outcomes improves overall job satisfaction. Automating things that don’t need to be done manually by a seller frees up time for them to focus on higher value activities, such as site inspections, prospecting, and researching new opportunities. To Melnyk’s point, speed and efficiency always win when it comes to hospitality group business. Booking windows are shorter than ever, and planners need quick answers from hoteliers. There’s substantial supporting evidence from planners that understaffed sales offices are impacting the overall experience, he notes. The hotels that are engaging with planners proactively and in a meaningful and personalized way will win more often. The hotels responding to leads more quickly and following up appropriately will win more often. It’s as simple as that.

When asked how hotel brands can stand out amongst the competition striving for group and event bookings, Melnyk identifies independent hotels as having a unique advantage. Unlike larger brands, independent hotels can move more quickly and freely to adopt new technologies that are often superior to those brands or tools mandated by a large chain, Melnyk points out. Additionally, personalization at scale can really help an independent hotel’s soul and spirit shine bright to a planner, even within a sea of other brands. Automation can help convey a deeper sense of personalized service from an independent and help a potentially smaller independent hotelier’s sales team compete against brands with greater support from above property or brand-level GSOs. And while fortune typically favors the bold, Melnyk notes that within the group segment, fortune favors those hotels which follow up. Since volume is so high, in some cases, a lead may only get a generic response or acknowledgment from a property without any meaningful engagement, he says. Hoteliers that capitalize on the initial interest, segment and nurture appropriately, will be able to get more out of each opportunity, even if it doesn’t yield an immediate booking.

As for the future, Melnyk and his team are seemingly just getting started, and their enthusiasm for their mission is palpable. There’s a tremendous amount of education that needs to take place in our space right now, Melnyk explains. Hotel sales leaders know what needs to be done, but sometimes the biggest challenge is pausing what you’re doing to focus on creating a more efficient future. In the coming months, the Parclane team plans to continue making integrations a priority because the more siloed and disconnected data the Parclane platform can bring together, the better the performance will be. Because we’re S&C system agnostic and see ourselves positively augmenting existing relationships, unlocking this potential allows hoteliers to get more return from previous investments, shares Melnyk. We are determined to help hoteliers find a better, more profitable way forward.

About Puzzle Partner

Puzzle Partner Ltd. is a boutique marketing agency focused exclusively on complex B2B initiatives for the travel and hospitality technology industry. We are experts at combining strategy and tactical execution in a way that doesn't just maximize a company's potential; it redefines it. By delivering influential content, marketing services, and public relations rooted in the skills of our team and tested through real-world experience, we help our clients gain visibility, raise their profile and ultimately increase their sales revenues. We incorporate a holistic blend of paid, earned and owned media, along with creative services, into an integrated communications strategy to drive brand awareness ahead of competitors and deliver impactful business results.

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Lauren Ramesbottom
Head of Content, Puzzle Partner
Puzzle Partner Ltd.

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