The rise of RFP engines and distribution channels has drastically changed the landscape of hotel group business. While these are important, necessary tools for hotels and meeting planners alike, they’ve created new challenges for hospitality sales teams. An unbalanced reliance on inbound RFPs can result in less active and successful prospecting, a loss of customer centricity and direct relationships, and an increase in cost of acquisition.
In recent years, hospitality sales leaders have turned to meetings market data intelligence to fill in the gaps and power a more strategic, customer-centric style of prospecting. What does that look like? Consolidated information about who is meeting where and when, gathered over a long period of time, straight from primary sources.
Previously, sales teams would have to cold call, or maybe check lobby reader boards themselves, to find actionable information about potential group clients. And when third parties began gathering and selling it, sales teams then would have to dig through the data to find any gems. The sheer amount of information could be overwhelming.
The latest iterations of products that offer meetings market data intelligence do most of the heavy lifting, offering users analytics that point directly to qualified leads or insight into the buying behaviors of a particular client. The best versions can even offer information typically privy only to the client — for example, that a major pharmaceutical company books 30 percent of its meetings business with Marriott and 40 percent with Hilton.
That means hotel sales managers can pick up the phone with more confidence, because they already know that much more about the potential client. It’s a valuable leg up in an industry that is heavily dependent on automated inbound channels, an efficiency that in some ways has created inefficiencies — such as RFP spam and frequently strained relationships between hotels and planners. Data intelligence can shift the focus from this reactive approach to a more proactive method of selling built on customer centricity.
Excerpted from Getting to Know Your Customers, a new white paper from HSMAI and Knowland, available for free download here.