This is a guest post by Eden Grant
There is confirmation that the Groups and Meetings space is geared to support hotel giants and independents, going into 2014.
Today, there is demand for unique spaces and unconventional meeting ideas. This is the margin of opportunity when working towards supporting overall rate growth and a healthier TrevPar.
The basic of all business, remains correct pricing in your marketplace. Always ensure you take a quick look at your price position.
But, caution to those expecting correct pricing alone to ensure capturing fair share. Efforts focused towards high customization and sublime service delivery will be key.
Hoteliers, managers and operational staff alike need to work together to minimise the gap between the expectations created by the marketing team, and the product delivered by the operational team.
One sure way to earn repeat business is to ensure expectations are met.
However, with indicators showing positive demand for the Groups and Meetings space, hotels are required to exert added effort in maximising group business uptake.
Below, some ‘quick wins’ to begin setting a plan for gaining groups share in 2014:
1. Upsell, cross sell and then sell some more – from the first call
The notion that the reservations team is an administrative team is gone. Sales skills will become a necessity, with the ability to upsell fast becoming a driver of better total revenues.
Room upgrades, spa requirements and added dinners are the first stop in sale items. Create a space and allow an autonomous reservations team that are able to work towards team targets with multiple upsell and cross selling deals.
Have an unused bar area? Sell discounted post-conference cocktails.
The group is a tech conference? Sell them a daily tech assistance.
2. Deconstruct your conference packages today
Along the way, hotels got excited about selling an overall day conference package. With new requirements aimed at pleasing individual tastes, attempt selling items that customise the guest’s conference package.
From tea break menu options through to the type of coffee on the day; aim to wow with the ability to re-create dynamic and exciting meetings.
For those who are dealing with the conference organisers or middle man – make it easier for the intermediary by collecting basic data on what items sell. Send through this cheat sheet as a “Top Sellers” that can be extended to the client.
3. Hold the bigger venues a bit longer
It is a safety net – selling as much as you can because the risk of declining business is fairly high.
You have to begin looking into your historical regrets and denials trends. What you might just find, is you are declining double or triple the revenue because the team feels the need to sell, sell and sell.
We need teams and managers who understand the risks involved when declining certain Groups business. Take the time to think about what you stand to lose by selling your best venues to any group? Most times it is a generous amount of revenue.
Go one step further – train up your team members to execute a simple displacement analysis. The offset amount is what must be additionally quoted for your venue hire for that day.
4. Assess the guests’ annual plans
Certain Groups and Meeting are reoccurring. If your team can find out what a client’s annual needs are, and barter a discount to solidify the base further out – you set yourself up for victory.
Lead times getting shorter will remain the norm, but with the groundwork done, the team can focus on maximising the total revenue per booking for all it is worth.
An important step here, is understanding the percentage group base you need. Plan, close the base group deal and hold onto your group pricing power going into each month.
5. Turn quotes out, get contracts back in
This tip is a matter of time management. If you can govern your team’s time effectively, you can do more business. More business is more revenue.
BUT – remember hint 3, holding on to your bigger venues a little bit longer. You can be quick and effective if you know what your thresholds are.
The longer you take to get out a neat and efficient quote, the faster your potential business goes off to another venue. The slower you are in retrieving the signed contract, the greater the risk of holding inventory with no ability to re-sell those rooms, or the venue. Have a policy for both actions.
A general quote out / contract in rule would be “3h5d”. 3 hours for a quote to go out and 5 days for a contract to be returned. Embed the 3H5D rule in your team for conversion success.
Make a person in your team the owner of a group number. Each person can report back on how well the team was able to work towards the 5 group rules. Odds are you could attach a large sum of added revenue achieved.
Eden Grant is a Revenue Manager at The Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg, SA. Fan of challenging the status quo and driving stronger revenue culture through a focus on the people and refined processes! @EdenGrant1 or firstname.lastname@example.org