Marketing, sales, and revenue have valuable knowledge and experience in their specific roles in the commercial team. However, the priorities for the commercial team will change depending on how the demand for different segments will develop over time. Therefore, hotels need to track pick-up trends and adjust the focus, roles, and activities accordingly.
Many hotels outside the large cities have had a great summer. The mega-chain hotel companies report increasing profits, and the impression is that the crisis is over for this time. So is it time to go with the flow towards full recovery? Wait, nothing is going back to how it was before the pandemic. Therefore, hotels need an updated commercial plan to capture a new audience with changing needs and requirements. Here are some ideas.
People have rediscovered during the summer holiday how rewarding it is to travel. As a result, most of us have promised ourselves to take a few breaks during the fall to relax, recover, and inject new energy. The demand for short holidays during the fall will increase, so hotels need to develop ideas to capture this demand. Before the pandemic, people had a lot of pressure from work, so hotel stays with a room and food were enough. This time, people work from home, have more control over their time, and are less stressed. Their new normal requires a bit more excitement than just a hotel room. Hotels need to attract guests with creatively packaged offerings with a good value. Packages have always been hard to sell, but it might work if the hotel understands the new needs and wishes better. Keep experimenting with content and rates until you find packages and special deals that sell. Track the pick-up and make adjustments to maximize revenue from each offering and special rate.
It will take longer for corporate travel to recover. Most hotels extended the current corporate negotiated rates throughout the pandemic. Hotels will renegotiate these agreements for 2022 based on new information about future expected corporate travel. The competition of the corporate contracts will be fierce since the volume will be lower than in 2019 and previous years. Lower volumes automatically mean a higher rate, but there is a risk that brutal competition will drive down corporate rates. The hotels that have the best salespersons will win the battle of contracted business for 2022.
Travel trade will also need updated agreements. For the leisure business, the rates might increase since the popular days of the week for leisure travel already see a strong rebound.
Salespersons are now the most critical asset for hotels to be able to capture future demand. Without signed contracts, it will be impossible to build the base and bring in profitable marginal business on top of that.
Revenue strategy is vital to succeeding in maximizing revenue. It starts with a clever and flexible rate structure to adjust prices when needed. For example, the best days of the week have already shifted from mid-week to the weekend and holidays. Before the pandemic, business travel drove demand for many city-center hotels. For the next couple of years, leisure travel will generate the highest volume and rate.
Forecasting is more critical and more complicated than before the pandemic. The revenue management systems will support forecasting, but they need close supervision as always but specifically now since behavioral patterns have changed. The primary purpose of forecasting is to get an overview of the future that will trigger actions to capture more demand on days with a slow pick-up. Tracking pick-up is vital to re-learn the booking patterns to make the right decisions about rate adjustments.
Marketing, sales, and revenue have valuable knowledge and experience and their specific jobs in the commercial team. Hotels cannot manage all commercial activities without these skills, but for the time being, some hotels might not have the financial resources to hire people for these roles. There are three options, and the choice depends on the type of hotel:
- Hire one of two roles and outsource or use freelancers for some functions.
- Prioritize the most critical jobs now and put other jobs on hold.
- Combine some of the roles and set clear objectives on what to achieve.
For a city center business and leisure hotel, the sales role is probably an essential role, for now, to secure all contracted business for 2022. This job requires 100 % focus on sales. Otherwise, there is a risk of losing contracts to the competition. Combining revenue and marketing might work since revenue skills include distribute and track marketing campaigns. With creative help from an advertising agency or a freelancer, the packages and special deals might attract more guests.
The priorities for the commercial team will change depending on how the demand for different segments will develop over time. Keep track of pick-up trends and adjust the focus, roles, and activities accordingly.