by David O’Donohoe
With RevPar for Hotels at its highest peak in North America in 15 years, many hoteliers are seeking to drive further profitable growth by focusing on segments that will help maximize their margins. Clearly, the business travelers can provide hotels with a high level of potential for profit.
Corporate transient and group travelers typically pay a higher nightly room rate and are within the higher income demographic. But how does a hotel go after these more lucrative clients? These four tips are a place to start.
Make Sure Your Hotel Is Visible To Buyers
1. Make Sure Your Hotel Is Visible To Buyers
While it may seem too obvious to mention, it really is crucial — if you want drive more transient and group corporate business — that your hotel be visible to corporate buyers. Larger properties and chains can do this by leveraging large global sales forces and attending meetings and events industry trade shows, where they can meet corporate buyers face-to-face; however, any hotel can increase its online presence with relatively modest investments in website content (like an active blog) and search engine optimization (SEO). In addition, increasing their investment on focused channel placement and content, can put a hotel front and center to those planning individual business travel and corporate meetings.
After all, corporate buyers are people like you and me. And most people — when looking up nearly anything — use Google or some other search engine early on. Ensuring that your hotel is listed at the top of web searches within targeted specific channels where these customers shop can significantly improve overall visibility.
2. Be Visible To Buyers — Even When They Aren’t Looking For You
Wayne Gretzky famously said, “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” In the hotel business, you could easily add, “and you lose 100 percent of the bids you don’t make.” Bidding on more corporate requests for group and transient proposals (RFPs) is a must if a hotel sales team wants to increase it’s corporate business. But what do you do when you aren’t receiving RFPs to bid on?
Automated electronic RFP systems have drastically changed the way many companies source hotel rooms and meetings spaces. Making sure that your property is listed and that your search placement is maximized on these systems will increase the number of quality RFPs that a hotel will receive — even when buyers aren’t directly targeting you. Additionally, some eRFP systems enable hotels to make unsolicited bids on transient RFPs — essentially letting them snatch business away from their competitors.
3. Make It Easy For Buyers To Do Business With You
Winning business isn’t always just about providing the lowest rate. Many times, buyers seek out deals with hotels that are going to make their jobs easier.
For example, a meeting planner will likely prefer a property that can provide both rooms and meetings space together — rather than source them separately, even if doing so saves a little money. Ensuring that all your hotel’s facilities, services and amenities are listed, searchable and up-to-date — both on your own website and in online marketplaces — will make it easier for buyers to do business with you.
Additionally, corporate group travel is trending toward a more guest-centered booking experience. For both corporate event planners and their guests, it’s advantageous for hotels to put guests in charge of booking their rooms and selecting the types of additional services, amenities and other extras they receive during their stay.
Seek out a booking system that allows group guests to book their hotel rooms electronically, rather than through excel or on a manual basis. These systems enable individuals the freedom to choose upgrades, spa packages, restaurant offers and help maximize profitable growth for hotels. Not only does this provide a valuable service to event planners who are considering your hotel, but as an added bonus, the more advanced of these systems will sync directly with your hotel’s central reservation system — eliminating the need for manual room block lists.
4. Increase Your Revenue With “Bleisure” Travel
While the word itself certainly isn’t poetry, “bleisure” travel (combining the words “business” and “leisure”) is becoming an increasingly lucrative segment for hotels that cater to corporate clients.
Business travelers are more willing than ever to consider tacking on a couple personal days to a business trip — and more and more are taking their families along. Incentives and specials that encourage business travelers to bring their partners or families can really pay off in added shoulder room nights and increased food and beverage sales — not to mention spa services for one partner while the other is in meetings or at a convention.
Without a doubt, hotels in locations with a lot to offer have an easier time coaxing their business travelers to take a few days to enjoy the area. Building partnerships with local tourism boards, fine dining destinations, concert venues and other attractions are a good place to start for hotels that want to promote their city as a place to spend a few days post-event.
Connecting with business travelers early — while they’re planning their trip — will give you more time to convince them to stay a little longer.
Look for a room block management system that helps you contact group guests directly from the moment they book their room. Jump on that opportunity to promote your individual property, local attractions and things to do which will help increase the chance that you can sell them extra room nights. There are a number of automated email and mobile messaging apps that allow you to directly offer these add-ons to your corporate guests.
The Right Tools for the Job
While winning corporate group and transient business for your hotel may seem daunting, remember that there are plenty of tools out there — from Google Local Business Center to automated email marketing tools to ensuring that you are placed in the appropriate place as travelers and meeting planners shop — that can make your job more successful (and easier!). All you need to do is identify the tools that help ensure that your hotel is putting its best foot forward during the shopping experience. Once you do that, it’s just a matter of putting these tips to work.
For more information on driving transient and group business, check out this great resource:
David O’Donohoe is the Vice President of Global Travel Sales and Strategy at Lanyon.
Lanyon believes that when people come together, amazing things happen, relationships are built and business gets done. That’s why we’ve created the industry’s leading cloud-based software for managing corporate meetings, events and travel programs — while helping hotels better connect with corporate clients.
Lanyon is the only company to provide solutions that deliver and manage both transient and group business.