Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, hospitality professionals have used the time to build up their knowledge in crucial areas. HSMAI is offering two online essentials courses in August to help them expand upon their skills in digital sales and data analytics. Holly Zoba, CHDM, principal at Scout Simply, has facilitated several sessions of the Hotel Digital Sales Essentials Series, which she created about a year ago and is continually updating to reflect advances in technology.
The course focuses on the industry’s changing buyers and new approaches to reach them earlier and in a more compelling way through digital methods. Zoba teaches new strategies and introduces new apps and tools that help make the entire prospecting and presentation process easier, faster, and more effective.
According to Zoba, now is the perfect time to take the course, because digital sales is a necessity rather than a bonus skill. “Our customers have been changing for the past couple of years and becoming more comfortable online,” Zoba said. “They spend less time talking with us and more time researching solutions online, on their own. The coronavirus pause has accelerated that evolution. It’s more important than ever to figure out how to insert yourself into their process earlier and in a different way. You have to have these new digital sales skills to stay in the game.”
When every single sale is crucial to the business, being able to use the latest technology gives salespeople a strong competitive edge. One example that Zoba likes to highlight is an app called Crystal Knows, which uses A.I. to examine the psychology of your prospects and offers advice on the best ways to reach out to them. “There’s all this technology out there that can make your life easier,” Zoba said, “so why wouldn’t you want to learn about it and take advantage of it to help you get in front of more customers?”
Every part of the buying process can be enhanced with technology, which is why the course introduces strategies for each step of the process, including: early in the buying process, several months before any hotel contact is made; as buyers search for solutions on their own online; when you’re ready to make a striking first impression; presenting your solution in a compelling manner; and afterwards, when you need to turn past customers into advocates for you.
Many of the skills targeted in the course are ones that are only growing in importance, such as social networking – using LinkedIn, Instagram, and others as personal branding tools; creating engaging prospecting emails with better business writing; and producing compelling videos to tell your property story.
“These are new ways of conveying your value proposition to buyers in a fresh manner,” Zoba said. “Lots of salespeople have never considered creating a video before, and I have discovered an app that uses AI to help you to tell your story through video in about five minutes. It’s important for salespeople to have easy tools to help them stand apart.”
The course is designed for both newcomers to the hotel sales world who want to learn the skills they need and veterans who want to expand their toolbox. Throughout the iterations of the course, Zoba has had several marketers participate as well as salespeople. “They love it because they get to understand the buyer’s journey from a salesperson’s viewpoint and they see how they can better support their sellers,” Zoba said. “Plus, they get to learn about a lot of really cool apps that they can use in their own role.” While Zoba doesn’t know of any revenue management professionals who have taken the course thus far, she thinks it could be helpful to them for similar reasons.
The next round of the Hotel Digital Sales Essentials Series will be held from Aug. 10–Sept. 16, with two more rounds set for Sept. 12–Oct. 28 and Nov. 2–Dec. 9. Participants receive daily eLearning activities such as videos and quick assignments, to allow them to learn the information at their own pace. And then once a week, the group gets together for a live, facilitated workshop with Zoba, where they put into practice what they have spent the week learning.
“Everyone learns at a different pace, and this approach recognizes that,” Zoba. “Technology is all about providing options to improve the overall experience, so I tried to make sure the training process incorporated that philosophy too.”
Learn more about the Hotel Digital Sales Essential Series.