During the fall, hotels have seen a recovery in business travel and meetings. The increasing demand calls for increased B2B sales activities to secure revenue from inquiries. In addition, hotels that get a large share of their revenue from MICE, business groups, and leisure groups need a clear strategy for becoming more productive and growing revenue by becoming better at winning inquiries. Today hotel sales need to react to inquiries faster and more accurately than before. A few indicators will show if the sales team is on the right track for success.
Tracking inquiries as a leading indicator
Hotels will receive inquiries from companies and travel agents about hotel rooms, meetings, events, food & beverage, and other products and services. The number of inquiries indicates the popularity of the hotel. A well-known and popular hotel will receive more inquiries which means more business. All team members in a hotel contribute to the popularity of the hotel. If the service delivery is excellent, the hotel will get better reviews and recommendations, and if marketing is successful in campaigns, the awareness of the hotel will increase. Each salesperson can build better relationships with contracted customers, so the hotel is always top of mind when the customers need accommodation and other services. When the number of inquiries increases, it is likely that future sales will increase, which explains why the number of inquiries is an essential leading indicator for hotels.
Inquiries trigger a response to win the business in competition with other hotels. A quick response shows the customer that the hotel is alert and willing to serve customers. A slow response does not send a positive message to the customer. Speed is not the only way to win the business. The content of the offering needs to meet the customer's needs at a reasonable price, not necessarily the lowest price. The content becomes increasingly important with the size of the event. The hotel must understand the purpose of the event, all customer requirements, and what would delight the customer. This need for information is why a salesperson will make a difference in larger orders and therefore should focus on meeting the customer to ensure that the hotel will create an attractive proposal.
There are three performance indicators for hotels to track to understand if they are winning or losing to the competition.
A hotel should track inquiry trends to understand demand, size, and behavior changes over time. These three indicators are most important.
- The number of inquiries - indicates changes in the popularity of the hotel
- The value of the inquiries - indicates changes in buying behavior
- The booking window of inquiries - shows changes in purchase behavior
If the hotel tracks these indicators, the hotel can prevent the impact of negative trends and adjust workflows to become more responsive to customer needs.
Hotels want to win profitable business, so therefore hotels should say no to some deals due to a low price or lack of availability. The lost reason analysis is vital to understanding whether the hotel turned down the business or chose a competitor. Some typical lost reasons are good, and some are bad.
A good reason to say no to an inquiry is that the hotel can sell the capacity to another customer at a higher price. Another reason to say no is if the target group has a bad fit with the hotel brand or image. The hotel can use a high price as a polite way to say no.
The worst loss is when the hotel wants the business, but the customer prefers to give the deal to a competitor. Another flawed reason is that a low-value reservation blocks availability for a larger high-value reservation.
It is critical to keep track of all lost business to better understand and learn about the demand for specific days of the week and seasons. Without registering all lost business, the hotel will not be able to make the right decisions about pricing and when to say yes or no to inquiries. The most common mistake in not collecting valuable data is probably when a customer gets the response "fully booked," and the inquiry is not registered at all. The hotel misses the opportunity to gain insights into the demand for specific periods.
Hotels traditionally calculate win rate as the number of won deals as a percentage of all inquiries. However, the hotel should adjust the formula if the win rate should indicate how skilled the sales team is in winning the business. In addition, the hotel should adjust the formula for good and bad lost reasons based on the reasoning above.
- Win rate = (won deals + good lost reasons) / total number of inquiries - including all "fully booked"
By adding all good lost reasons to deals won, the salesperson will be motivated to sell more profitable deals. With this formula, the win rate will indicate how successful the sales team is in winning the right business.