Bridging the chasm between hotel sales and marketing

Typically, hotel marketing teams are focused on attracting transient consumers, rather than assisting the hotel’s group and corporate sales teams.

Achieving group and meetings revenue targets can make or break your property’s annual performance. But most hotel group sales departments lack consistent, effective marketing support and are forced to generate their own leads.

Typically, hotel marketing teams are focused on attracting transient consumers, rather than assisting the hotel’s group and corporate sales teams.

This is a significant lost opportunity that could have a huge impact on revenues, especially during slower periods.

What’s behind this strange phenomenon?

In almost every other industry, the marketing department is responsible for building relationships with ALL of a company’s audiences and markets. Why has the hotel industry evolved to a place where group sales teams must feed themselves while their colleagues in the marketing department dedicate the budget and resources on transient business?

From our POV, a number of factors have led to this strange evolution:

Lack of B2B marketing expertise: Most hotel marketers are trained in classic, business-to-consumer marketing techniques. Very few colleges teach B2B best practices, which are based on an entirely different ideology than B2C. B2B marketing emphasizes the value of building long-term market trust, while B2C marketing focuses on short-term KPIs.

Complexity of measurement: World-class B2B marketers are experts at establishing systems to measure marketing’s value to the enterprise, but newbies trying to dabble in B2B lead gen are often terrified by the complexity of creating a lead gen funnel and tracking leads to deal completion.

Disparity of channels: There is a large disparity in the number of channels, media and marketing tools available to hotel marketers to attract transient consumers, versus what’s available for accelerating hotel group sales lead flow.

The leadership paradox: Many hotel entities have separate marketing and sales leaders. This leads to a natural separation of budgets, accountability and resources. On the other side of the coin, when there is ONE central sales and marketing leader, they came up from either the sales or marketing ranks and will invariably be more successful at the area they are most familiar with…

No communication: Because of the organizational separation and marked difference in KPIs, hotel marketers often have very little communication with their sales counterparts. Hotel marketers fail to share their capabilities and hotel sales fail to communicate their needs and periods of weakness.

Apathy: Record occupancy, a soaring economy and a dependable inflow of sales lead from their parent brands and sources like CVent have led property-level sales and marketing teams to a comfortable state of passivity.

Some basic steps to improve…

The roots of the problem above run deep, but there three fundamental steps hotel marketers can take right away to create synergy and impact results.

1. Embrace the responsibility

Hotel marketers should welcome, not fear, the expansion of their responsibilities to include qualified lead gen for the group sales department. In many ways, group lead gen is easier than transient and certainly more lucrative; the lifetime value of a large meeting/group client is exponentially higher than any transient customer… thereby reducing the future revenue-generation burden on the entire sales and marketing team.

Hotel marketers also need to remember that if they embrace lead generation responsibility, they increase their value in a demonstrably important way to their management and can ask for compensation increases as a result!

2. Start with the “HVTs”

Every hotel marketing team should immediately adopt the basic principles of “account-based marketing” and create a Top 100 list of “high-value targets.”

Most hotel sales teams already work with a company like Knowland to access groups market intelligence to identify the most relevant group opportunities for their location and venue size. But the hotel marketing team should ensure these HVTs are loaded into a simple CRM platform in order to send out a steady stream of entertaining, engaging and non-self serving, destination-centric content that will engender consideration among meeting planners when planning a meeting in your destination.

This chart, from B2B account-based marketing firm Drift, illustrates the shift hotel marketers must make when pursuing meeting and group HVTs for their sales teammates

3. Talk.

Having consistent, cross-departmental meetings works wonders for building cooperation and integration between hotel sales and marketing teams. Discuss budget-vs-target results and periods of upcoming weakness. The marketing team should be aware of the periods of time when group business (and business transient/corporate) is trending below projections.

This is where pre-planning and communication between teams can make a huge difference. The sales and marketing leaders should work closely with revenue management to identify periods of weakness as far in advance as possible and execute promotional campaigns to increase lead flow and bookings for those periods.

Another group that hotel marketers need to talk to are the meeting planners themselves when they are on the property. By doing this they will gain a firsthand sense of what specifically makes meetings clients “tick,” while potentially building long-term relationships that may lead to sustained business through the years.

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 34th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale.
Please visit: www.Tambourine.com