Friday, March 9, 2007

Diligence is the easiest way to improve hospitality sales

Increasing sales is not always easy, so perhaps we need to think of ways to make it easier for us. When it comes to hospitality sales, there are some areas of concern that directly affect our ability to do more business. We always have to be concerned about the economy; these days, however, it is in pretty good shape, and is working well for us in our industry. Improved employment always works well for us, which in the long run creates more leisure travel. So in good times we usually think of building business as somewhat easier.

However, along with the improved occupancy and revenue that is generated by good times, we know we will be looking forward to growth in the number of new guestrooms. This, to some extent, will create more competition through a possible over-building situation, which in turn could decrease occupancy at some properties.

Regardless of the economy, we need to be involved in going after new business. After all, most properties do not run 100-percent occupancy all the time. Travelers who stay with us at one time do not necessarily stay with us again. Companies and associations do not always put business at the same properties all the time. This means that we must continually seek business to replace business that is "lost" or has not returned.

We need to think of ways that make it easier for us to get more business. All too often, we find hospitality salespeople trying to book business by making contact with a wide variety of individuals, companies and groups who really are not in a position to do any business with them. It is much easier to do business with people and organizations that are already doing business with us or have done business with us. It is just a question of staying in touch with those accounts.

Sometimes we get so concerned with booking a single piece of business that we neglect to ask our contact appropriate questions to determine if there is other business that might be available to us. This could be through other employees of a company or members of organizations. We need to find other contacts who could be in a position to do business with us. In many cases, corporations have several different departments directing corporate business travel or making arrangements for meetings. Then, of course, there very well might be social events held throughout the year that could provide additional opportunities for a property.

Another area where we could make the job of sales much easier is to ensure we do not lose any telephone inquiries. All too often we hear complaints from qualified prospects about the "telephone ringing off the hook" or nobody returning calls, and of course, no one enjoys listening to all those prompts on voice-mail. There is a lot more to this business of making the job of sales easier by getting into the subjects of product knowledge, selling the difference, building relationships, public relations, e-distribution and more.