For decades, the reservation sales team has been the last stop at the morning debrief in terms of understanding how a hotel is performing today, tomorrow, and next month. However, this same crucial team has been separated from the others, both physically on-premises and technically, with technologies that frequently do not integrate with the marketing team. Traditionally, marketing has created campaigns and driven demand. Reservation sales has picked up the phone and taken the order. What happens in between is essential, yet this information has largely been missing.
Hotels should instead think of marketing as a lead generator and reservation sales as the lead nurturers. What’s required for reservation sales to nurture a lead and convert it is a complete understanding of where the lead originated and what the pathway has been. This suggests everything about what criteria the guest is using to evaluate properties.
Technology that follows the guest through every touch point and that allows reservation sales to see the pathway also lets them know what they need to do to sell to the guest. It tells them if the guest is highly rate-sensitive, or if the guest is coming in via a particular campaign that reservation sales can see up front and address right away. It can tell them how close the guest is to a decision. Further, this same technology, ideally built into a CRM platform, allows reservation sales to add preference information, which can be drawn upon if the guest chooses not to book but is open to follow up, and/or when the guest is on-site—or even down the road for automated email marketing campaigns. This level of tracking, which follows the guest pathway online and offline, also tells marketing what level of ROI they are achieving.
Aligning Sales and Marketing To Improve Loyalty
Aligning hotel sales and marketing teams does more than improve conversions—it can result in more earned loyalty. Most properties with aligned teams are working under the auspices of a revenue culture, one in which revenue goals are realistic, shared, and incentivized across teams. With complete follow-through from the campaign to the call, campaigns will be more strategic, and reservation sales’ ability to consistently and effectively communicate with and sell to the guest are vastly improved.
Reservation sales, as the last stop, can communicate back to marketing about whether or not they are targeting the right leads or guests. A nuanced confirmation of what the data should be showing only enhances decision making. In addition to increasing booking closure rates, when reservation sales teams are singing the same song as marketing, the guest gets more personalized and consistent communication from the property across all touch points. The alignment makes the guest experience more consistent before a guests’ stay, indicating that the property is likely to deliver and that it takes guests’ needs and interests seriously.
Guests crave consistency. The many unknowns of traveling must be met with a stable and consistent lodging experience. When front-desk staff have the same access to guest data that is available to the sales and marketing teams, the consistency of the experience is further improved.
Additionally, when reservation sales and marketing are aligned via technology, it reduces rifts in the guest experience, putting an end to conversations that include phrases like: “The last agent told me such and such,” or “The ad I saw said the rate was $199, not $210,” or “Doesn’t the room include breakfast? I’m sure someone told me that.”
Keep in mind that the number one rule in sales and marketing is that it is crucial to make it easy for the buyer to say, “yes.” When all internal parties understand the messaging around the experience, rates, and offers that are circulating, there is less friction and more ease for the guest. Plus, this alignment ensures that staff will avoid promising things that may or may not be executable.
Finally, aligning these teams makes all data gathered throughout the journey, up to and including the stay, available for outbound sales programs and lifecycle marketing campaigns that are personalized and automated, aligning fully from marketing to sales, and back again to marketing.
In today’s era of hyper-personalization, long-term guest satisfaction and retention hinges on a hotel’s ability to demonstrate knowledge of the guest. The personalization capabilities, at this point, are more important than the loyalty program itself. Especially when considering that, according to J.D. Power, only 50 percent of loyalty program members know how to redeem their perks.
How to best align sales and marketing teams will look different depending on the individual needs and assets of a property. Most teams will work in tandem to some degree, but all tightly organized systems should have a solid foundation, and that foundation should be built on communication. Today and in the future, this strong foundation of communication can be made more accessible and more efficient with the right technology.
With solid underpinnings, an aligned team will sing the same song over and over with a variety of guests. They will work toward the same revenue goals and be incentivized to do so. Their performance will be measured on it. When done well, not only will conversions increase, but guests will keep coming back.