For most hotels on a fiscal year aligned with the calendar, it`s the time of year when managers emerge bleary-eyed from seemingly endless budget forecasting meetings with their final marketing plan and annual budget in hand.
Despite the fact that key economic indicators are favorable for the travel industry, we know from the flawed projections of past years that there always will be much uncertainty. So instead of spending the holidays worrying about uncontrollables and the potential obstacles that inevitably will come into our paths, why not get busy focusing your team`s energy on the many aspects of our businesses success on which we can and do have an impact every day?
Keeping in mind that Luck is what happens when preparation meets with opportunity, let`s look at some action steps to create some good luck for our properties, our team of associates and of course our own 2005 end-of-the-year bonuses, to be paid to us in just over 12 months!
But first, many of us have something to overcome within ourselves that might hinder our lucky breaks for next year. Have we somehow signed off on a plan and budget that we do not believe in? Inside, is there a voice of doubt that tells us it is unrealistic and perhaps unattainable?
If so, the first step is to start truly believing that we can and will achieve success, despite the unexpected challenges to overcome en route. It has been said that Life is an `I`ll see it when I believe it` equation, not the opposite! So before you begin taking action to create some good luck next year, give yourself a check-up from the neck up and expand your belief systems by:
- Affirming your vast, virtually unlimited potential.
- Visualizing success and positive outcomes. Create symbols to view frequently as a reminder.
- Avoiding negativity and immerse yourself in a positive environment whenever possible.
By expanding our belief systems, we can create the cornerstones for a lucky year. But belief systems alone do not create luck. So rather than spending another year hoping and wishing, let`s get started filling up our lucky charm box right now, even before we raise our glasses for a champagne toast on Dec. 31. Rather than putting in superstitious objects like a rabbit`s foot or four-leaf clover, let`s fill up our lucky charm boxes with things that will ensure our future luck. Here are four lucky charms to make sure you and your team will succeed together next year and beyond.
1)Increase sales results by better handling your existing inquiries. With all of the energy most hotels have invested in electronic distribution marketing, all too many have neglected traditional distribution channels, which today still bring in the vast majority of business more often than not.
- Convert your entire front-office team into an extension of your sales department by implementing an everybody sells campaign at your hotel.
- Improve your process for fielding e-mail sales inquiries, find a way to better sort and prioritize them to expedite responses, and train your staff to personalize their messages and templates to rehumanize this otherwise cold medium.
- Coach your staff on capturing walk-ins, securing return reservations, fielding after-hours inquires for groups/functions and overcoming rate objections at registration (without lowering the rate).
- Refocus your sales department to be passionate about salesperson availability and proactive follow-up throughout the sales cycle.
- Make sure reservation inquiries are fielded by associates who know the product, who can quickly discover the caller`s wants and preferences, who can present personalized benefits and who can close the sale.
2) Train your staff to master channel conversion techniques. Rather than treating those who`ve booked via third-party distribution channels as steerage class, instead start building a positive relationship during registration while simultaneously offering incentives and easy systems for booking directly next time.
- Make sure your staff converts at least some of the many calls they field every day from those who are online while on the phone to just see if that`s the lowest rate.
- Instead of giving the typical response of Sorry, you have to book that online through _____, give them the training and pricing options to succeed. What we can do, sir, is upgrade you to a better room for only $5 more, and this room is not available online and only by calling us directly.
3) Move towards targeted marketing and narrowcasting. While traditional marketing campaigns and mediums still can be effective, increasingly it is evident that we need to find more personalized and customized marketing approaches to find next year`s new guests. Look for sales suspects who are similar to your existing client base in terms of economic level, geographic location and spending patterns. Find ways to use existing technology to precisely track the conversion rates for any marketing campaign. (Such options are available from companies like Buehner-Fry).
- Utilize new integrated printing and database management systems to send high touch collateral, for example a full-color postcard mailing with your sales prospect`s name and personalized message printed in full color. (If your vendor partners cannot deliver this, check out companies like Incite Response).
4) Rehumanize your callers and guests. Rather than focusing customer-service training efforts solely on interactive communications techniques, help your staff understand that my name is not some guy on line three needing directions, nor room 207 wanting more towels. When I walk into your lobby holding two pieces of luggage, you don`t need to ask me if I am checking in? When I approach your hostess stand for dinner, alone, with my book in hand, you don`t need to ask me, Just one? I am a guest of many faces. And you just never know what it is like in my shoes on this day.
- Conduct situational sensitivity training to help your staff understand the various circumstances and quandaries which guests find themselves in during their travels. (Click here for more ideas.)
- Help your staff understand the pressures on today`s business traveler and how much pressure that same business traveler puts on themselves to have fun when it`s time for optional leisure travel.
- Remind everyone that when we bring out the best in others, we bring out the best in ourselves.
- Demonstrate, by example, how to turn the tide on guest negativity and to initiate positive interactions with guests who could go either way.
So as you head off into the new year, make sure your team carries along a well-stocked lucky charm box. Rather than relying on seemingly random occurrences of good or bad fortune to determine if you meet your budget for next year, you`ll soon start to see that the harder your team works, the luckier it will get.
Douglas Kennedy has been a fixture on the travel, tourism, and lodging and hospitality industry keynote speaker circuit for more than 15 years now. His interactive, informative, and some say downright funny presentation style has engaged audiences in 7 countries and 47 out of 50 States in the USA. When it comes to the lodging and hospitality industry, few keynote speakers boast a resume like Douglas, who has personally presented over 1,000 conference keynote sessions, educational break-out seminars, or customized, on-premise training workshops. So if you want to contact Douglas Visit www.douglaskennedy.com