When thinking about productivity in sales, the opportunities are in improving the workflow, not making the salespersons work harder or longer hours. Your priority is to focus on the most time-consuming, challenging, and tedious steps in the sales process. The goal is to give hotel salespeople an easy, fast, and accurate method to bring more revenue to the hotel.
Definition of a hotel sales workflow
A simple definition of a hotel sales workflow is how salespeople get work done. It is a process that completes a series of steps from a start to an end to finish the job. A workflow consists of people, systems, combinations, or other processes. For example, one of the essential sales processes is to contract customers for future business.
Contracting customers for future business
In many hotels, contracted customer share is well over half of the room revenue. Therefore, the contracting process is vital for these hotels to secure future room revenue. Without a contract, the hotel will not even be qualified to participate in this part of the market. As a result, the demand from this segment will be next to zero since a contract is a ticket to the ride. Here is a simplified version of a contracting process with six types of steps.
The starting point is to determine the requirements and general terms to become a contracted customer or agent. Next, the hotel must create contracting guidelines, a group policy, and minimum qualifications to become an acquired customer. Next, the salesperson identifies potential customers/agents to contact. If the hotel has been in business for a long time, there are already many contracts to be renewed, so there is no need to start from zero. Next, identify which contracts the hotel shall renegotiate and any RFPs with a good fit for the hotel. Finally, add them to the first step in a sales pipeline.
The hotel salesperson now knows the potential customers, so the next step is to plan how to win the contracts. Based on past experiences, plan activities that have worked in the past. These activities are probably meetings, lunches, site inspections, customer events, etc. Assign activities to each potential customer. Now you are ready to start the execution.
Time for calling and emailing the potential customer to ask all those qualification questions and set up meetings to listen to the customer's needs and present the most appropriate solution the hotel can provide. The execution phase also includes creating and sending proposals, negotiating, presenting an agreement, and finally getting the potential customer to sign the contract.
Not everything always goes according to plan. There will be a need along the way to assess the total number of contracts and expected total revenue. If there is an indication that the outcome will be lower than the goal, the salesperson needs to find more potential customers and add them to the sales pipeline.
There might also be a need to revise the contracting guidelines depending on changing travel requirements, including willingness to pay.
When the salesperson wins the contract, someone must implement rates and terms in the PMS and all distribution channels. Next, the salesperson files the agreement in a system or filing cabinet. Finally, the salesperson sets a reminder to follow up the production so the customer will deliver the room nights they have promised.
Automation makes the process productive
The sales process still depends on human interaction. Someone is the buyer, and someone is the seller. There are computer-based bidding systems in some cases, but they still need to be programmed or supervised by humans. Within the six types of steps, there are many small steps. The hotel can automate some of these steps to save time for salespeople. Saving time on tedious work means that the salesperson can spend more time meeting, negotiating, and signing contracts with more customers.