Hotel marketing teams need to improve their support of group sales.
Achieving group and meetings revenue targets can make or break your property’s annual performance. But incredibly, most hotel group sales departments lack consistent, effective marketing support and are forced to generate their own leads. Hotel marketers often ignore the need to boost their hotel’s revenue by accelerating the number of incoming sales leads.
As a result, hotel marketing departments usually stick to what they know: marketing only to leisure travellers.
Let’s change that.
There are several smart ways for hotel marketers to generate more group business for their hotel and champion the sales teams’ efforts. It simply takes using the hotel marketing strategies you already know and use… and finessing them for the meetings market:
1. Be Accountable: Carry a quota
Marketing people carrying a quota?
While this may be a strange and radical concept among hotel marketers, other industries (i.e. Silicon Valley software companies) have been assigning lead generation quotas to marketing teams for many years. Asset managers and property owners no longer want to hear about “branding initiatives” or logo colours… they expect their hotel management firm’s marketing team to contribute to revenue in a measurable way, communicate in number-speak and be accountable for tangible results.
Quotas for marketing teams can be memorialised in terms of leads or actual closed deals generated by leads driven by the marketing team. And marketers often receive bonuses based on their performance against their quota.
Hotel marketers need to remember that having a quota is not only a burden, but also an opportunity: if they hit their assigned lead generation targets, they increase their value in a demonstrably important way to their management and can ask for compensation increases as a result!
2. Consistently Communicate with “HVTs”
Every hotel should have 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 useful stories, photos and videos that will help meeting planners do their jobs when planning a meeting in your destination and beyond.
Meeting planners love to book venues they trust. And one way to build trust is by communicating consistently in a selfless, helpful way. Hotel marketers should deploy a steady ‘drip’ of stories, photos and content that helps prospects understand the destination better and do their job more effectively.
But under no circumstances should the content be self-serving!
Your content ‘stream’ does not have to be restricted to email or digital content. Direct mailing personal notes and helpful material often breaks through the clutter and differentiates you from the thousands of emails your prospects receive each week!
Creating this cadence of content will establish you and your property as a trusted resource and position you as THE leader in your destination!
3. Empower sales with marketing automation
You’ve already been using marketing automation to boost leisure business for several years, from post stay surveys to reservation recovery emails. Now, you can use the same principle to be a catalyst for driving meetings and events to your hotel. By placing a piece of code (provided from your marketing automation vendor or hotel marketing agency) into your website, you can monitor whenever one of your sales team’s key group business targets visits and explores your meeting pages.
Plus, your marketing automation software will be able to determine what the planner’s interests are by following their clicks. Did the planner spend more time looking at breakfast catering menus? The section on government meetings and per diem pricing? Or, watch a virtual tour of your largest ballroom? You can then provide this data to the sales team and enable them to craft relevant messages and offers to match planners’ exact event needs.
4. Stay top of mind with retargeting
Keep your hotel top-of-mind with meeting planners who visit, then leave your hotel website’s meeting pages. If a meeting planner goes to your website, clicks around and leaves without submitting an RFP, set up retargeting display ad campaigns to follow them online and remind them what makes your venue a remarkable option for their group.
5. Create compelling destination content
Establish your hotel and its sales team as meeting industry thought leaders in your city by creating helpful, info-tainment content. This will position your hotel as being the most experienced property to host meetings and events in your destination.
For Example: 5 Distilleries For Groups To Experience True Louisville Bourbon, 10 Waterfront Teambuilding Activities in Long Beach, or Most Unique Group Tours in Philadelphia. You can also take content you’ve already written for the leisure audience and customize for the groups market by giving it a meeting and events ‘spin.’
Then, pay to publish these into the LinkedIn newsfeeds of meeting professionals. Post these onto your hotel’s own meetings and events blog or repurpose this as content for upcoming sales newsletters (See #2 & 3 above).
6. Optimise your website for meeting planners
This is your main marketing vehicle, so don’t solely cater to leisure guests here. Pack your meetings and events section with all the resources that meeting planners need. Our latest meeting planner survey revealed that planners wanted relevant sourcing tools that could be downloaded directly from hotel websites, including photos of past events, floor diagrams, room measurements, capacity charts, testimonials, and 360-degree venue tours.