By Seth Kekessie
We asked over 200 participants three questions:
- If a planner calls you directly, how often are you proactively working with them to try to secure their business?
- Have you ever pitched a site visit to a planner even if you don’t have an RFP in hand from them?
- What percentage of inbound RFPs are you converting?
Here is what we learned:
Proactive Means Revenue Optimization
The results paint an interesting picture about how the industry treats a direct sale and how reliable inbound leads are. Knowland finds it a bit troubling that 13% of the respondents admitted they don’t often collaborate with the planner when the opportunity walks through the metaphorical door. Hotels that put more resources into building up the proactive, direct-to-planner channel as a source of business – a Proactive Group Sales Strategy – will grow repeat business over time and be less reliant on the more expensive (higher cost of acquisition) third-party inbound leads, which are often much riskier, less dependable, and usually unqualified.
Proactive Means Do Not Wait for an RFP
Inbound leads are a reality. But can you depend on them when you really need them? 78% of respondents have pitched a site visit to a planner even without an RFP, which is exactly what Proactive Group Sales is all about. Not just during softening market conditions but for the greater good of hotel revenue and profits long-term, a Proactive Group Sales Strategy is the way to build sustainable group business. By pitching a site visit and taking the time to learn about a prospect and connect with them about their book of business, not just one event/RFP, you are on your way to building a relationship that you can nurture into stronger repeat business.
Proactive Means Change the Source of Your Business Mix
From the perspective of hotels, the advent of technology intermediaries was initially heralded as efficient, but it has led to increased competition for business and made the traditional flat or standard third-party commission structure harder to justify. The majority of respondents are converting less than 10% of inbound leads, which can be expected in the era of “Lead Spam,” enabled by technology (about 17% of respondents claim to be converting better than 15% of inbound).
By proactively soliciting group business without waiting for inbound leads, hotels take control back into their own hands by increasing their chances of winning business, optimizing profits and building their sales pipeline. Hotels have been feeding on inbound RFPs, but times are changing and you must be prepared to find more reliable sources of repeatable group business.
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