DBR for Hotel Sellers

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In "The Case for DBR," I wrote about how holding a Daily Business Review meeting can benefit your hotel sales team over and above rates-dates-space. One of the key components of this meeting is mutual accountability, or what each person needs to bring to the table in order to make it a success. Today, let's start with sellers. 

Sales people often view DBR two ways: first, as the forum to get approval for booking (or turning down) a piece of business, and second, as a way to show their leaders how hard they are working. Both are simultaneously dangerous and true.

If your DBR meeting is an approval engine -- sales person presents, Director of Sales & Marketing and/or Director of Revenue Management provide rate -- you are slowing the sales process down and turning DBR into a learning obstacle. I have been to far too many DBR meetings where the seller describes the business: "April 1-4, 100 rooms, space for 150, Continental, AM/PM, and lunch" and waits expectantly for a director to spit out the rate. Often, the sales person reads from a printed out lead sheet and has done no other research or qualification because, "it says no phone calls."

As a sales manager, your job is to sell your business to the team. Before you bring a lead to the meeting, you should have gone through the following steps:

  1. Researched the organization to understand what they do, where they've been before, what types of hotels they use, and what their rate expectations might be.

  2. Looked at your sales database (Delphi, CI, etc.) to find out if and when this client has been to your hotel or a sister property before.

  3. Reviewed the books to see what else is definite or in the pipeline, whether there are alternative dates that are a better fit for the hotel, and what inventory to use that will maximize the hotel's ability to sell other business.

  4. Run the business through your evaluation tool if you have one, or compared it against your open selling guidelines (you have those, right???). Review past STR reports to get a sense of how the hotel and market performed over the same days last year, and understand if there were any atypical demand conditions (i.e., Easter, the Super Bowl, a natural disaster).

After you've done that, you should decide what you want to offer, at what price, and with what concessions. Ask yourself:

  • If the piece is over peak dates, can I get a premium rate? Can I stratify my rooms offering to include premium room types at a higher rate? Can I request a reduction in meeting space, or charge "rack" meeting room rental?

  • If there is another definite on the books, can I offer an incentive (lower rate, comp room rental, other concessions) for a pattern shift? 

  • If the program hits on need dates, what show-stopper can I include in my initial proposal that will ensure I win?

Come to DBR with a plan for how you will propose and win the business, and present that plan confidently. Don't sit back and wait for your leaders to tell you what to do. 

That doesn't mean other people in the room won't have opinions! Anticipate what questions you will be asked and be ready to answer them. Fight for your business. If you can't make a case with your own team, it's doubtful you can make a case with a customer.

A sales person who brings two well-researched business presentations per week is worth far more than one who rattles off 12 unqualified leads with no plan of attack every morning. If you do the right things, your production will speak for itself.

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Susan Barry