Hotel Group Sales Blog

Optimizing Groups Sales, Revenue & Cost

How to increase sales with Hotel Sales Software

Hotel Group Sales Strategies essentially revolve around three activities, attracting more leads to the top of the funnel, qualifying the leads to identify the best potentials and converting more of those potentials into actual sales. While every sales manager worth his role is aware of this, many sales teams are bogged down by daily activity to actually put this into practice. This is where a sales systems like Insta Event Management come to their assistance. Let’s take a look at a few ways a good sales system can help sales managers increase leads and improve conversion.

Improve Conversion

We will first look at the last aspect of the strategy presented here, which is how to increase conversion once potentials have been identified. While many factors like price, location, quality of product in market, etc. which are outside the control of sales teams affect the rate of conversion, there are some things that a sales team controls that can significantly improve conversion too.

Time to Market

Time to market is the time elapsed between the time a sales manager received an inquiry and the time when the proposal reaches the customer. Hotel sales is a more complex animal than quoting a single price and there are many steps involved before a proposal can be generated for a client. And this is the reason many hotels take several hours or even days to respond to inquiries. A good sales system like Insta Event Management can cut down this time into mere minutes. Let’s take a look at Insta Event Management as an example and see how this can be done.

Quick Pricing Decisions

At many hotels, time to reach a pricing decision or reach the decision maker often holds up proposals and reduces conversion. Insta Event Management has a rules based pricing engine that can do something as simple as suggest a daily price for guest rooms, banquet space, Food and Beverage and other add-ons or can get more complex and let revenue managers enter complex pricing criteria based on many parameters across multiple properties or geographies. Either way, the sales manager enters the requirements and they are presented with an instant price to give the customer if on the phone or send out if requesting through email or other online methods.

Quick and Easy Proposals

Hotel sales managers surveyed by Insta Event Management said that a typical proposal takes them about 1 hour to complete and more complex proposals can take several hours. A good sales system like Insta Event Management solves this through the intelligent use of templates that are merged with the requirements and pricing from the previous step and proposals can be generated with little to no effort from sales managers.

Insta Event Management Advantage: Average time from receiving an inquiry to sending out a proposal on Insta Event Management is 3 minutes. To learn more, book a demo with us here

 

Relevance & Quality of Proposals

The quality and relevance of a proposal can have a significant impact on conversion rates. A proposal should be considered the same as a booking site and many aspects of website conversion can apply here as well. For example reducing friction and fear, having clear calls to action, and other user experience design applies to a proposal as much as it applies to a website. Let’s consider some of these and see how a good sales system can convert more.

Reduce Friction & Fear

As hard as hotel sales managers try, it’s a daunting task to keep proposals really relevant to the customer when there is so much to do. For example, including pictures, videos, and walk throughs of a conference room that the client is being offered reduces fear of the unknown. However it is often too much work because it requires the sales person to look at the pictures and videos and select them for each individual proposal. The result is more proposals with generic content that shows pictures of all rooms. Systems like Insta Event Management can automatically select the room being offered and show content related to that, making relevance automatic.

Clear Calls to Action

A clear call to action is often associated with increased conversion in e-commerce. Systems like Insta Event Management provide clear calls to action in web proposals, making it easy for the customer to request a contract, pay a deposit, or ask a question, significantly impacting conversion rates.

Identify Right Potentials

A recent survey by a well-known hotel association found that in some markets, the number of RFPs have gone up by more than 300%. A lot of this is because of websites that allow meeting planners to easily send RFPs to multiple suppliers with one click. Great for the planner, but the downside is too many RFP requests for the hotelier and lower conversion per response.

The solution obviously is to respond to the ones that are most profitable and most likely to convert, but without looking at each of them, it’s hard to prioritize. This is another area where a good sales software like Insta Event Management can help by prioritizing RFPs from various websites, allowing sales to work on the best potentials first. Another efficiency improvement possible is to auto-assign to individual sales managers based on criteria like geography or segment.

Increase Lead Pipeline

The real reason I decided to take up the pipeline last is because managing leads, generating proposals and post-sale communication takes up most of a sales manager’s time leaving them little time to create new pipeline for sales. In fact, an industry survey found that sales managers spend only 15% of their time actually prospecting and selling. A sales system like Insta Event Management not only increases conversion, but makes it many times more efficient to respond to leads, leaving sales managers with as much as 400% more time for actual sales activities and prospecting.

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The time has come for meeting room booking engine on hotel websites

What is a meeting booking engine?

A booking engine is software that allows people visiting a hotel’s website to book rooms online without having to contact the hotel over the phone. Regular booking engines enable users to book bedrooms or guest rooms as they are more commonly known in hotelier speak. So, a meeting booking engine allows the visitor to book meetings online on the hotel’s website. These are more powerful engines that encompass rooms, meeting space, Food & Beverage, Audio Visual and other add-ons that are required for a successful meeting.

Who uses meeting booking engine? 

Large chains like Hilton and Marriott recognized some time ago that there is a demand for booking meetings online, especially the smaller meetings, and have implement these engines on their website. Other large chains and even smaller chains are either looking into it or are in some stage of implementation.

Why do we need a meeting booking engine?

Hotel Group Sales Challenges

The current state of the meeting industry has created specific challenges to the hotel group sales teams that can be solved to a certain extent using a meeting booking engine. The following infographic depicts the problems and the impacts of those problems to hotel group sales teams.


The proliferation of Requests for Proposal

A survey by Meeting Professionals International, the largest meeting and event industry association worldwide, found that RFPs had increased 300% over the previous 5 years. Does this mean there are 3 times as many meetings? Not really, it just means that meeting organizers are choosing to get more proposals for their events, enabled in part by the advent of websites that send RFPs to multiple venues and help compare results.

Reducing Conversion Rates

While more proposals help organizers make better decisions, it also means that hotel sales teams are sending out a lot more proposals with a lot less chance of winning the bid. In fact, industry figures estimate that the current probability of a proposal converting to actual business is less 5%. Put another way, for every 20 proposals sent out, hotels are happy to even convert one group.

Reducing Quality and Time Spent on Proposals

A typical proposal takes about 30 minutes to complete.  Larger more complicated requests need internal meeting and decisions making and take hours and days to complete, and the sales manager at the hotel is hard pressed for time. As sales people are forced to send more and more proposal, the quality of those proposals have to suffer, and they tend to send more boilerplate proposals in response to RFPs. This means not personalizing the response to the industry or specific customers which reduces conversion. But even worse is when specific questions from organizers are not answered in a rush to send more proposals. This further aggravates the problem of low conversion by reducing the conversion ratio further.

Increasing Response Times

The heavy demand on hotel sales managers also means that some of the proposals end up being delayed or sometimes missed when an RFP has a set due date and time. A Harvard Business Review study found that when customers are 7X more likely to convert when contacted within the first hour of the request. The delayed response reduces conversion even more.

Time Spent on Small Meetings

Industry data indicates that close 80% of the meeting are what are considered smaller meetings that produce a lot less revenue for the hotel. While RFPs for these smaller meetings are easier to respond to and takes lesser time, the competition is still stiff and not sending a good proposal reduces conversion. This leads to sales managers spending a lot of time on small meetings that probably follow the 80-20 rule and only produce about 20% of meeting revenue for a hotel, thus spending less time on larger revenue business.

The Result – Sales Teams that don’t have time to sell

Given all the statistics in the above paragraphs, it’s evident that sales teams have quite a load just responding to incoming proposals that have a low conversion rate and a lot of the time is spent on small meetings that are not high revenue generators. The result is that sales teams spend very little to no time on actual proactive selling that can land hotels large and lucrative clients. In fact, another survey found that hotels sales managers only spend 15% of their time on proactive sales. I’ll let that sink in. Only 15% on proactive sales. Essentially they are doing paperwork 85% of the time.

The Solution – Online Meeting Booking

One obvious solution to the overload is to introduce the ability for customers, especially the ones looking for smaller meetings (remember the 80%?) to booking their meetings online. This brings up many questions around user acceptance and feasibility of meeting booking engines in the minds of many hoteliers we met. Again, we look at data to answer these questions.


User Acceptance

Industry surveys show that 39% of meetings have a lead time of less than 4 weeks. The lesser period of time available to plan the meetings makes it imperative for meeting planners to get quick responses in order to meet their timelines. In fact, an overwhelming 83% thought hotels were too slow and wanted a faster response.

A large number of meeting planners already user e-RFPs and other booking tools for online meetings and are familiar with the online format. 80% of the organizers surveyed said they will be willing to book meetings online if it facilitated their need for a faster response.

It’s evident from data that meeting organizers are not only willing to accept online booking, but demand a faster response, whether online or not. Further, there were about 25% of the respondents who said they don’t consider hotels for small meetings if they don’t have an online solution.

Feasibility

Another concern for hoteliers we hear often is that meetings have many customizations and building such an engine will be too complex and unusable. To this objection, we call to your attention portals like Instagathering.com, facilemeeting.com, and meetingbooker.com that have enabled bookings worth several million dollars from organizers in spite of the relatively low investment that has gone into these portals. It’s only a matter of time before a large percentage of meetings are booked online and it’s imperative that hotels implement a meeting booking engine so they are not too late to the game and are ready to take online meeting bookings when they do become the norm.

 

Insta Event Management Booking Engine

Insta Event Management has such a booking engine, whose feasibility is proven by many bookings online from its owned portals of Instagathering.com and FacileMeeting.com. To get more information or to book a demo, please click here.