Every single salesman or woman, in every single realm of business, has sales goals. To be sure, there are specific challenges in the hospitality industry: the economy isn’t the best…but it’s turning up. The hotel industry is saturated…but isn’t a red ocean. Customers aren’t as loyal as they used to be…but you can change that with these 4 customer retention strategies.
If you’re not seeing returns on your sales efforts and blaming outside forces for your shortcomings, you should probably take the 2 minutes and 7 seconds this article requires to gain some serious perspective on your sales strategy.
Word of warning: this contains a strong helping of tough love, but if you heed this 4-step plan, you’ll increase your leads and hit your hotel sales goals.
Step 1: Stop Being Delusional
How many of you have complained about the lack of leads or opps in the hotel industry? How many of you have followed up with every prospect you’ve encountered? How many of you have given up on the first try?
Instead of complaining about what you don’t have, use the tools that are knocking on your door. Revisit old leads in your CRM system. Sometimes these accounts have been disqualified due to a single incorrect tag, or overlooked in a major marketing campaign.
Take a look at your customer demographics. Are the majority of them traveling for leisure or business? Solo or with family? Hosting an event or attending one? Learn about them. Study them. Understand them.
U.S. residents logged 452 million person‑trips for business purposes alone in 2013, with 24% for meetings and events. I’d be willing to bet your sales goals encompass a very small percentage of that group.
Identify your communication faults. Transform them into strengths. Succeed.
Step 2: Be a Person, Not a Schmuck
Don’t be that guy. Or girl. You know who I’m talking about. The hotel salesperson who opens with, “I have a LIFE-CHANGING, MIRACULOUS room block deal with your name on it!” Who are you, a hybrid of the ShamWow guy and Dr. Oz?
Dan Waldschmidt of Business Insider summed up the reason you aren’t locking down new customers perfectly, “it’s the fact that you send horrible email marketing talking about how deals are “closing fast”. Stop it. Just. Stop. It.
Who do people hate? Smarmy salesmen. People HATE smarmy salesmen.
Who do people love? They love their friends. They ask their friends for advice. They value them.
Be their friend. Stop being needy. Start adding value. Start sending them messages that have nothing to do with a sale. How about, “Hey Jane, I know when you were here last you were wondering about the best steak restaurants in the city. Well, we just had a brand new steakhouse open down the road, and I thought you’d be interested in checking it out next time you’re in town. Hope you’re well!”
See what just happened? You added value. You established trust. You may have just made a new best friend, who may well become a loyal customer.
Build a genuine relationship. Succeed.
Step 3: Imitate, Imitate, Innovate
Speaking of loyalty, let’s talk about the Ritz Carlton. Just last month, I stayed at the Ritz’s Marina Del Ray venue. As a creature of habit, I awoke the first morning and ordered a coffee from the hotel’s small café. “One iced coffee, please!” After paying, I added a touch of skim milk, a ½ a packet of brown sugar, and off to my conference I went.
Fast-forward 24 hours and it was back to the coffee bar. Before I had a chance to order, the gentleman at the café said, “One iced coffee with skim milk and a packet of brown sugar – did I get that right?” I felt like I was Andie McDermott in Groundhog Day.
By morning three he nailed my order, right down to the ½ packet of brown sugar, and closed each conversation with a sincere, “Have a wonderful day!”
Renowned for their impeccable customer service, the Ritz knows that the difference in a guest’s experience lies in how seriously – and responsibly – the hotel’s staff takes their jobs. I will be honest: I can’t afford to stay at the Ritz on a regular occurrence, but what I do know is that anytime I am in the area, I will be booking the Marina Del Ray.
It didn’t take a crazy deal. It didn’t take a chocolate on my pillow (though I ate both that were provided quite hastily). It took a person caring about me, being attentive to my needs, and making me feel like a guest, not a pocketbook.
Imitate the Ritz. Innovate their strategy to your sales tactics. Succeed.
Step 4: Hit The Proverbial Weights
Bad news, salesmen and women of the world: repeat business doesn’t just happen. It’s something you earn. And re-earn. It takes practice.
In a world in which the average person is all but assaulted by an average 247 marketing images per day, it’s going to take a whole lot more than a good deal to make a guest a loyalty member. It’s going to take elbow grease, creativity, and the extra effort that is becoming less and less common in today’s busy world.
According to a study done by MCD Partners, 74% of travelers reported interest in substantial proactive involvement from hotels during their stay, in order to make their visits better.
When creating a list of things that you can do that will make a guest feel at home, remember this all-too-true statement from Maya Angelou, “People will never forget how you made them feel.” Consider leaving their favorite beverage (free of charge) in the room, or sending a handwritten welcome note to greet them at breakfast, or jumping on a quick phone call once you see they are checked-in to personally ensure they are satisfied with their room.
Note that the above ideas are small, easy gestures that will take up a whole 30 seconds of your day, but will reinforce your guest’s belief that they are a special addition to your property.
Practice. Make the extra effort. Succeed.
Identify your shortcomings, enhance your strengths, and practice your relationship building. Be patient, stop complaining, work hard, and you will succeed in hitting your sales goals.