man trying to navigate a path through question marks reflecting the importance for hotel sales of conducting a data audit to reveal potential untapped profits

Despite a global climate of economic uncertainty, corporate demand in the hospitality industry remains strong.

NB: This is an article from Parclane

Companies are returning to real-life events in a big way, and not just because they can: In-person gatherings are now a vital part of employee engagement and culture in a world where distributed and hybrid workforces have become the norm.

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It’s no surprise then that the demand for group and business travel is growing. According to HotelAVE, this demand is expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2023 when recognizing a 5% year-over-year group rate increase. What’s more, 65% of companies expect to raise budgets for meetings and events, with over half of meeting professionals anticipating higher demand for hotel rooms and meeting space into 2024.

From a hotel owner or sales executive perspective, group sales provide considerable revenue. However, manual sales processes and outdated pipeline data may burden your sales team, leaving them unequipped to fully capitalize on these leads. This can significantly impact your bottom line and thwart growth as operating costs rise.

The solution to optimizing group sales value is usually hidden within your existing sales and catering data — but only when this data is well-maintained and used effectively. Why are hotel sales teams unable to keep up with demand, and how can a data audit help them tap into otherwise missed opportunities?

Sales teams are outpaced by demand

On the surface, group demand forecasts may seem ideal. After all, meetings and events provide hotels with significant returns and can ensure healthy revenue when leisure business or seasonal travelers fluctuate in demand. But in practice, the steady stream of new leads is putting additional pressure on sales teams — particularly those contending with legacy systems and manual processes.

Hotel sales teams simply don’t have the bandwidth to dedicate to selling. Instead, they are spending the majority of the workday completing administrative tasks and manually managing the sales pipeline. In other words, sales teams are inundated with leads but unable to qualify, prioritize, and engage with them in a meaningful or efficient way. This resourcing problem is exacerbated by labor shortages, with the accommodation sector experiencing some of the highest job opening rates in the United States.

Traditionally, group sales strategies are also centered around inbound request for proposal (RFP) pipelines, but even these processes remain inefficient. According to a Groups360 survey, RFP response rates are only 45%. Moreover, event planners are increasingly time-constrained keeping up with demand themselves. This translates to higher RFP volumes, and tighter submission turnarounds, which hotels often lack the resources to address. Between high group demand, large RFP volumes and manual processes, your sales team is probably overwhelmed and unable to improve sales ROI.

Data decay and oversight translate to missed sales

Another factor to consider is the quality of your hotel’s sales and catering data. Each year, B2B contact data decays (becomes outdated or incomplete) at an average rate of 22.5%. As contacts move between companies or change information, the lead data in your sales pipeline continuously becomes invalid. As a result, salespeople are often required to manually track client information and sift through duplicate contacts — an uphill battle that prevents key buyer relationships from getting the attention they need.

Sales teams aren’t just burdened by outdated data. They also lack the tools to derive valuable insights from their data, which could otherwise support more strategic sales interactions and more efficient resource allocation.

For example, imagine that a planner in your pipeline frequently sources event suppliers. This buyer has sourced your hotel multiple times, but your sales team hasn’t responded to an RFP or secured business with them in a few years. This could be a high-value, quick win — but it’s unlikely that your sellers have the time or resources to manually unpack sales pipeline data and uncover this type of opportunity. Enter: The data audit.

How a data audit can help

Hoteliers that want to streamline sales and take advantage of high-value buyers can no longer afford to maintain cumbersome processes. Instead, they must invest in a data-driven solution that keeps databases current, illuminates high-value leads, and introduces sales automation.

The first step is performing a data audit of your sales and catering system. An audit uses software such as Parclane to identify and update old contact information and eliminate redundant data. It also automatically pinpoints high-value buyers and their sourcing activities — such as those in the example described above. Additionally, audits can benchmark your data against similar hotels that are already using sales auditing and automation technology. Combined, these capabilities enable your sales department to:

  • Easily find and prioritize high-value leads/RFPs to drive revenue immediately.
  • Spend less time on low-stakes leads, as well as manually updating and understanding sales data.
  • Improve ROI by nurturing and retaining existing relationships, which is considerably less expensive than prospecting new customers.
  • Forecast the revenue potential hidden in otherwise missed opportunities.
  • Gather the insights needed to inform strategic sales automation.

In summary

Businesses are prioritizing in-person events more than ever, with a high demand for hotel accommodation and meeting space anticipated through 2024. This growth is good news for hoteliers, but those who continue using outdated sales processes and underutilize sales and catering data are unlikely to maximize the value of group sales. Auditing your data is a crucial first step in streamlining sales resources, increasing profits, and optimizing ROI for years to come.

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