Hotel sales is one of the most daunting aspects, isn’t it?
Most sales professionals always find it frustrating when closing a lead takes forever.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Every hotel, irrespective of its shape and size, can speed up its sales cycle.
You just need to spare some time to understand your current process, implement certain steps, and voila!
I know…I know. It isn’t as easy as ABC! But it’s not something you can’t achieve.
Without further ado, let’s dive right into the topic, understand everything about it, and come up with strategies to speed up your hotel sales cycle.
What Is a Hotel’s Sales Cycle?
Generally, a hotel sales cycle is a process of turning a lead into a guest. However, this process is repeatable and tactical and involves everything from the first touchpoint to building strong relationships with the guests.
To put it simply, a sales cycle in a hotel is not just about turning a lead into a guest, but also repeating the success by acquiring repeat reservations.
Why a Sales Cycle Is Important for Hotels?
You’re walking down the halls of your hotel and you’re seeing that all your rooms are empty. There’s complete silence!
Isn’t that the horror?
This is a hotel without a sales cycle. A little exaggerated but you do get the point, right?
Basically, when you have a well-defined sales cycle you increase your chances of keeping your hotel booked. Even during the drought days of the year.
In the case of a hotel that doesn’t have a sales cycle, the control is usually with the potential guests. They are going to book based on their impression of your hotel. You, most probably, have no say in their decision-making.
Worst still, you’re just sitting at your property and waiting for guests to check in or waiting for reservation calls or notifications.
What if you have a sales cycle? Or, what if you have a strategy to find prospects and communicate with them?
Then you have a better chance of acquiring reservations.
Let me explain how.
A potential guest checks your hotel website. He gets your number and calls you right away. However, he refuses to make a booking because of the pricing or maybe something else.
What would you do?
Maybe you’ll let the person drop the call at that moment. But you’ll certainly call him back and try to offer a price, inform him about the latest discounts or events or anything special. And maybe, this time he’ll make a booking.
This might sound philosophical but a hotel with a sales cycle is like “not giving up”. You’re not sitting idle and waiting for guests to flock. You’re playing your cards right to make them book a stay with you.
I am sure this shows the imperativeness of a hotel’s sales cycle.
Different Ways to Speed Up Your Hotel Sales Cycle
Having a sales cycle is one thing but having a sales cycle that delivers results at speed is a thing to achieve. However, there are various ways to increase sales cycle speed at your hotel and we are going to see just that.
1. Understand the fundamentals
Be it in terms of a hotel or any other business, fundamentals aren’t simply said to be the “building blocks”.
Hotel sales is a vast aspect. It involves multiple stages before you convert a lead to a guest. And to gain advanced knowledge in hotel sales and support your future sales strategies, you need to have a strong foundation.
Now, I also want you to see whether your current strategies are in line with the basics, the results it is driving, and the average sales cycle length.
So, this is the first and foremost thing to do when you’re speeding up your sales cycle.
2. Determine the bottlenecks
Next up, drill a little down further and see where exactly it takes time.
What I mean by that is you must look for the stage where it takes time to move the leads.
Once you figure that out, you’ll be able to filter out what’s going wrong.
For example, you receive a lead from your website but then you’re taking days to reach out to the lead. Is that the right thing? I don’t think so. I might want to change it and make it quicker.
Furthermore, human errors could also be bottlenecks. Maybe your sales reps aren’t that well trained or maybe they are missing out on leads. In these cases, you might want to host sessions to train them.
Whatever the case is, identifying what’s wrong is the key to building future great strategies.
3. Attract ideal leads
Most of the hotels have a severely slow sales cycle because they are channelizing their efforts toward a guest base that isn’t in line with the hotel.
For example, I run a luxurious hotel that is located near the airport. Through the months, I figured that corporate travelers are more likely to stay at my hotel. So, my ads, content, and all my marketing material should be directed toward corporate travelers.
But what if I keep capturing details of budget travelers? Am I going to make a sale? I don’t think so.
This is why it is important to attract the right leads — the ones who are interested as well as who can afford.
#ProTip: One of the best ways to do this is to create guest personas. They can help in curating personalized marketing material to attract the right guests.
4. Use social proof to gain trust
Social proof is majorly a marketing element. However, it can significantly speed up a hotel’s sales cycle.
Let me explain.
As per the typical definition or what Wikipedia says, social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people try to replicate the actions of others in an attempt to undertake correct behavior in a given situation.
For example, you’re browsing a hotel website and see a testimonial from an influencer you respect and follow. You can also recall that the influencer has posted great pictures from this hotel. It now drives you to make a reservation in this hotel. That’s exactly what social proof is.
And if used correctly, social proof strategy can eliminate multiple stages of your sales cycle and bring in a good number of reservations.
5. Have a set of KPIs
The reason I am asking you to have a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) is that they help in setting and achieving realistic goals. They are like the catalyst that drives you to your milestones.
However, it doesn’t mean you’ll list dozens of KPIs. No!
You have to determine the prime key performance indicators; the ones that actually make the difference in your hotel’s sales cycle.
For example, lead response time could be a KPI to track. It is the amount of time between a lead’s inquiry and your sale rep’s response. Upon tracking, you’ll get the average time that your sales reps take, and if it seems to be high, you must reduce that.
After all, the faster you’re able to respond to your leads, the more likely you can send them further down your sales funnel to convert.
6. Set realistic and achievable goals
I talked about goals in the previous point and now, let me stretch a bit on it.
When I am talking about setting goals, I mean realistic goals. Because when goals are realistic and achievable, it increases motivation that goes beyond simply saying, “I’ll do my best.”
You might want to do some in-depth analysis of your weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals before coming up with a new set. Also, it might seem like a daunting task, but it is worth it considering the bigger picture.
7. Ask more and better questions
Wondering why I am talking about asking questions; better questions, to be precise?
It will help you understand and communicate with your prospective guests better. You must ask questions whose answers reveal your prospects’ motivation and preferences.
For example, you cannot shoot arrows in the dark and try convincing the person on the other end to make a booking. You could rather simply ask about their budget or what amenities, experience, etc. they are looking for. It will make it easier for you to make an offer that is in line with what they are willing to pay or want.
8. Make time-sensitive offers
Speaking of offers, there’s one more thing you can do to speed up your sales cycle is making time-sensitive offers.
What is that, you ask?
Time-sensitive offers are exclusive hotel promotions that are limited to a certain period of time to create urgency and engage buyers who might be on the fence.
Interestingly, there’s, a psychological element involved which is based on the pleasure principle that states that people make decisions to avoid pain. And in the case of a time-sensitive offer, the pain would be missing out on the deal and paying the full price later.
Isn’t that intriguing?
9. Keep a lead call cheat sheet handy
Having a cheat sheet handy while on a call with a lead is also a great way to dodge unnecessary situations and stick to the point.
To be precise, a lead call cheat sheet is a set of instructions or a mock conversation that has all the answers or everything you need to say during the call.
For example, if the prospective guest asks whether you could give him a 30% discount, you shouldn’t say “No, I can’t” and let him drop the call. Rather, you should have an answer ready with an offer that’s a win-win for both – the guest and the hotel.
Or, what if a guest starts to curse or become rude, you can retaliate the same way, can you? So, for situations like this and to cut right to the chase, it is advisable to have a lead call cheat sheet.
10. Automate the process (use a CRM)
While every other step is crucial, it is also important for hotels to turn to automation. And this is where a CRM comes into the picture.
Even if it sounds a little harsh, but if your hotel isn’t using a CRM then it is certainly lagging.
A comprehensive hotel CRM helps in managing the leads in the most effective way possible.
For example, it helps in ranking and prioritizing your hotel sales leads. Meaning, you have the exact idea of where to spend your time. No lengthier calls with the “not-so-ideal” prospects.
Furthermore, a CRM offers a 360-degree view of guest information and interactions, helping in managing guest feedback, loyalty programs, and more.
Behind every successful and profitable hotel, there’s a robust and fast-moving sales cycle. Yes, you heard it right.
It’s not that other aspects of a hotel aren’t the key players, but a sales cycle holds a different place as it brings in the business.
However, despite holding such a spot in the domain, many hotels overlook it and don’t work on optimizing the cycle. That isn’t the right thing to do. If you want to see consistent and high ticket bookings, it is crucial for you to put some weight on it.
I hope this blog is of your help and offers all the information you need to improve your hotel sales cycle time.