Selling Your Hotel Virtually – and Winning!
Whether we like it or not, with or without Covid19, Virtual Sales are here to stay. The hospitality industry has embraced change in many areas – be they service, systems, management or design. Now, it’s time to transform hotel sales.
There are four things we can and should do – right now.
1 – Accept and embrace the need for change
Hospitality sales have been virtual for a long time: individual sales are made on hotel websites or OTAs; corporate travel programmes are loaded, negotiated and distributed online via GDS and then travel agency consortia; whilst online meeting and event RFPs have been growing consistently for almost a decade, at expense of their online counterparts. Tour series requests are still sent via lengthy RFPs and suffer protracted negotiation via email – not exactly the warm face to face personal touch.
So, what is left in terms of person-to-person Hotel Sales? The promotional part of the sales funnel – where you present your hotel to a potential audience of buyers, building relationships based on trust and empathy, as a basis for future business requests.
And in 2020, whether you are a seasoned salesperson or a wide-eyed rookie, you are facing a major need for change. This calls for honesty, humility and may mean you need to look to your younger sales team members to lead the way, in terms of approach and technology. So accept it – and throw them the challenge.
At Great Hotels of the World, we are leading our hotel members along this path to Virtual Sales with several Online Training Sessions, where we share best practices and discuss challenges and opportunities for growth.
2 – Work with the right Sales partner
As a member of Great Hotels of the World, you have a futureproof partner in Sales – in just three months, we took on the challenge and transitioned to online sales and marketing with our agency partners and teams, through Virtual Coffees, Virtual Sales Calls and Virtual B2B Events.
3 – Use the right technology
As always, we are offered a plethora of solutions, apps, and systems, which can be daunting. The technology has to be right for your client and, ultimately, right for you.
For your client, describe the options you can offer for the meeting – whether it is on the phone, Google Meet, Zoom, Hop In, Microsoft Teams or Skype – ask which they prefer. Then, when you reconfirm the meeting, the day before, remind your client how you are meeting them and what they need to do to attend.
What about the right technology for you? We’ve rounded up some key aspects to look for:
- User friendly and with intuitive navigation – so that even if a client is unfamiliar with the technology, they will attend
- Secure environment to ensure your business remains confidential
- Ability to record the meeting
- Chat functionality to encourage more interaction
- Reliability – after all, it is your connection to your customers
- Background personalization with your company logo
- Mosaic windows with all participants that you can see while presenting – it increases everyone’s level of concentration and encourages interactivity
4 – Adapting the sales pitch to the new way of doing business
Between online team meetings, training, brainstorm sessions and trade fairs, it may feel like your whole professional job has gone virtual. It hasn’t – but it’s definitely shifting.
Instead of meeting your clients at trade shows in 10-minute rushed encounters, you will meet them online throughout the year to do business; and then visit their country once a year, host them for a breakfast, lunch, or even dinner, for that quality face to face time. It will still be a professional meeting and environment, but far more conducive to actually nurturing that relationship. And instead of attending six to twelve international trade shows, forums and events in 12 different countries, you will probably be attending 1 or 2 major face to face events and the rest, virtually sitting right where you are now.
We know that the hope is to keep using virtual until secure in-person events can restart but the reality is that online and hybrid events aren’t going anywhere. While virtual sales can require more intensive planning and adjusting old norms, the payoff is far greater, and the opportunities endless. If you’d like more information about virtual sales events and to find out how we’re working closely with our member hotels to navigate this new landscape or how we can help you, please visit www.join.ghotw.com.