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Friday Finds: 7 Essential Hotel Reports to Boost Group Business

To stay ahead of the curve in the competitive group business market, hotel management companies must track how properties are performing today, while watching for opportunities to build group business in the future.

This requires attention to small details and the big picture all at once”no easy feat. Read on to learn the 7 essential reports hotel management companies must track to improve group business and relationships with leads, while staying agile in a shifting marketplace.

1. Hotel Sales Activity Report

You’ve got a lot to keep track of across the hotels in your portfolio, and there are times when the activity of your group sales team can fall off the radar. However, group bookings are showing steady growth, with many hotels seeing an increase in group sales during Q4 of 2018 and expecting that growth to continue, according to earnings reports by prominent hotel executives. It’s an essential market to target consistently.

With sales activity reports, you can track the day-to-day activity of your sales team, including lead generation activities, incoming calls, and follow-up activities. These reports highlight where members of the team are most productive, which activities are the most effective at landing group business, and where they may be falling short. Look for hotel CRM software that supports customization of your sales reports.

Key sales activities to track include:

  • Outgoing emails and sales calls for lead generation
  • Inbound emails and sales calls
  • Follow-up calls
  • Detailed call notes
  • The length of time spent on calls and site visits
  • Notes on site visits
  • Deadlines and completion dates

With an activity report in hand, managers can see when a sales team member isn’t managing their time effectively and needs coaching to improve their output. The reports can highlight when a team is underperforming on specific quotas, such as outgoing sales calls to regional businesses per week or confirmed group contracts per month. They can also help managers compare the amount of time spent responding to inbound calls versus the time spent on outreach to new prospects. 

With detailed notes about each point in the sales funnel, managers can help team members refine their sales tactics and shift strategies for specific clients when necessary. Finally, the activity report can also help create realistic benchmarks for incentive programs, such as getting a $100 gift card after reaching 30 outgoing calls to new prospects the month before a historically slow booking season.

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2. Hotel Pace Report 

A pace report compares the number of bookings in a given year, month, or quarter, with past bookings by year, month, or quarter. This report is so fundamental to day-to-day hotel management, it can be taken for granted”and as a result, valuable service and revenue opportunities can get missed along the way. To get the most value from your pace reporting, use it to:

  • Forecast staffing needs. Track busy and slow periods so you don’t under- or overstaff”both of which are costly to your hotel group. 
  • Track room demand. With insight into weekly, monthly, and seasonal demand, you can adjust room rates and optimize RevPAR. For example, a specific hotel in your portfolio may see an unexpected spike in room demand during an annual conference held 30 miles away. As it turns out, some of those attendees were willing to commute to the conference to save money. Here the challenge is to raise rates without pricing yourself out of the niche demand.   
  • Spot shortfalls in sales. Compare guest room bookings over a certain period of time to discover group sales opportunities. For example, if you book blocks of rooms to basketball teams in winter or family reunions in March, and event space bookings are light during the same period”you can market your event spaces at a discount to those groups. Perhaps family reunions would be interested in a catered lunch, rather than going out one day, or an athletic team would book space for a pizza and ice cream party on their last night.

Another thing to remember is that sometimes increased booking pace for rooms isn’t better. For example, you may sell out rooms in advance over a certain period that typically experiences high-value, last-minute bookings from the SMERF market groups. Pace reports can help you identify and flag these periods, so sales can throttle back until the time is right. 

3. Win/Loss Report

Review win/loss reports routinely for insights into the group appeal of specific hotel properties, core customers who require high-touch service, and sales messaging issues. Here are some examples of issues (both positive and negative) win/loss reports can reveal about properties across your portfolio:  

  • Hotels winning group business for company meetings because of world-class A/V setups.
  • Select-service hotels losing group business because they lack F&B options.
  • Hotels losing group business because of a misperception that the commute to the airport or the city center is challenging. 
  • Repeat event and group business from a mid-size company at a particular property. 

For a clear and valuable picture to emerge, you must outline the exact reasons for group sales wins and losses. The more details, the better. Train your sales team to talk with group business and event planners about why a particular property won them over, or why they chose to book elsewhere. Keep it positive and authentic, letting them know your goal is better aligning hotel offerings with guest needs. 

This information can help you prioritize improvements across properties, and implement changes where it makes the most sense. Possible strategic responses to the above examples:

  • Match the business-winning A/V set up at properties that aren’t drawing company meetings even though there’s a local market for them. 
  • Create grab-and-go breakfast option at limited-service properties near convention sites. 
  • Discuss transportation options on sales calls.
  • Prioritize high-touch service for core group customers. 
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4. GRC (Group Rooms Control) Report

The competition for group bookings is high, and is on track to become even more fierce, because research shows the size of meetings is growing and the number of actual meetings is shrinking. As a result, your sales team must stay up to date on available room blocks across your portfolio.

Enter the GRC (Group Room Control) Report, a vital tracking report that details reserved room blocks and finalized room blocks for the current month and upcoming months. With this information, your sales team can generate fast, detailed, and accurate responses to RFPs, which can help land business. Current reports can also help your sales team easily recommend other nearby properties in the portfolio when the groups’ first choice isn’t available, or when an alternate property is a better fit for the event.

Over time, GRC reports also provide a record of actualized room-nights for group bookings so long-term patterns can be identified. Perhaps you’ll notice a steep drop off between tentative bookings and actualized bookings over a certain time, which should prompt a closer look at Win/Loss reports for that period.  

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5. Event Summary Report

Event summary reports give you an overview of events”actualized, current, and future. These reports help prevent accidental double-bookings of event spaces, while also keeping teams on the same page for event preparation, A/V setup, and adequate staffing. This is essential for streamlined events and outstanding customer service”the key to repeat group business. 

Similar to the GRC reports, a review of past event summaries can also spotlight areas where there’s room for improvement, sales opportunities, and shortfalls in event space utilization. A historic audit may turn up conference rooms unused during the summer months, and inspire sales outreach to local business associations. Or, you may notice only small parties book the ballroom”perhaps a capital improvement project to create two smaller spaces is in order.  

6. Comp Set Report

It’s essential to track the direct competitors of every property, including how they are performing, amenities on offer, room rates, and long-term asset management projects such as property upgrades, additions, and renovations. With competitive set reports (comp sets) you can benchmark the market positioning of each hotel.   

What makes a hotel a direct competitor of another is not necessarily proximity”a select-service hotel is not competition for the five-star hotel down the road. Competition parameters are typically based on service level, transportation accessibility, event spaces (types and quality), amenities such as a pool or gym, and the number of rooms for group bookings.

Next, use Google, TripAdvisor, and other OTA sites to explore the offerings of your competitors. Break your analysis down by season, because you may outperform them at certain times of the year and fall behind in others. 

Essentials to compare include:

  • Market penetration
  • Event activity
  • Group bookings
  • RevPAR 
  • Online reviews

You can create comp sets yourself, or contract with competitive benchmarking and revenue management services companies, such as STR or OTA Insight, for a deeper dive into the metrics that matter. 

Comp sets used to be updated every five years or so, but hotels are changing and upgrading so quickly that competition is always shifting. Today it is better to evaluate comp sets every year or so, or even track them on an ongoing basis.  

7. Meeting Survey Report (Post-Event Surveys)

You may think post-event surveys are the domain of event planners and meeting organizers alone, but you’ll be missing opportunities to improve your event and group sales if you don’t track how your properties are performing. 

Create post-event online surveys, and entice event planners and attendees to participate with restaurant or spa coupons. Keep the surveys simple and share how long they will take; too many questions and too much time (more than one to two minutes) result in drop-offs and low participation. Use cloud-based survey development software such as SurveyMonkey or Typeform that includes a percent-complete progress bar so attendees know you value their time.  

Mobile-friendly surveys are a must”you want to catch attendees and planners immediately after the event or you won’t catch them at all. 

Helpful questions to ask:

  • Was the staff helpful and supportive?
  • Rate the booking process for room blocks (easy, frustrating, difficult)
  • Were problems solved quickly?
  • Were problems solved effectively?
  • Was the event space appealing?

The survey software will then generate reports, which are only helpful if you review them and respond to issues promptly. You may learn a particular hotel team struggles with pre-event communication, another property has an aging A/V system, and another property where the sales team is slow to finalize BEOs. All of these call out actionable fixes you can address right away or budget for in the near future.    

Amid the pressing demands of your HMC, reports can easily sit in your CRM for weeks, or, worse still, never see the light of day. But these reports are invaluable tools that can guide short- and long-term growth strategies, upgrades, and training decisions. Don’t let them go to waste!

Ready to explore how CRM reports can help you drive group business? Request a free demo of Social Tables easy-to-onboard Hotel Sales and Catering CRM

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