According to EY, the future of hospitality looks bright. Most people are planning at least one trip in the next six months while businesses are going back to organizing live events, and digital nomads keep traveling the world. This means hotels can generate significant revenue if they have a good strategy in place.
In this post, we’re going to share 15 sales strategies for hotels to help you ensure your property stays fully booked for a big part of the year. But first, let’s look at the sales team’s responsibilities.
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What do hotel sales teams do?
While securing high hotel occupancy is the daily bread and butter for sales teams, it’s not their only activity. Among others, they also:
Seek ways to boost revenue per room.
Sales reps come up with creative ideas on how to generate more profit from their guests. To reach (and, ideally, exceed) their quota they:
- Upsell (for example, convince guests to upgrade from a standard double to a room with a king-sized bed)
- Cross-sell (i.e., offer complementary products or services)
- Generate commission from partnerships with other local businesses
Build partnerships with businesses.
The types of businesses hotels partner up with depend on a few factors. These include the hotel size, location, and customer profile. Still, they can be roughly divided into two groups:
- Complementary services – think travel agencies, chauffeurs, wedding organizers, etc.
- Large businesses, which might choose the hotel for all of their individual and group bookings
Both of these B2B collaborations require sales team members to run outreach. The goal is to build relationships with decision-makers and turn their businesses into steady streams of income.
Seek feedback from guests.
Looking for feedback and putting it into action is the fastest route to success. The better the client experience, the higher the sales.
And it’s hard to figure out what is and isn’t working without asking customers, employees, vendors, and suppliers for their opinion. The great client experience will translate into returned visits, positive reviews, and word-of-mouth recommendations. All of which will boost revenue.
Cooperate with marketing on promotion strategies.
Marketing is the driving force behind finding new hotel guests and building a positive brand image. However, to reap the full benefits of marketing efforts, it’s vital that sales and marketing work together closely.
After all, no other department apart from the hotel front office staff knows the clients as well as sales. Add marketing’s creativity to it, and you’re on your way to increasing your revenue.
15 Essential Hotel Sales Strategies
To boost your hotel’s profitability, it’s worth following a number of tried-and-tested sales strategies for hotels. These include:
1. Create a hotel virtual tour.
Offering a virtual hotel tour is a great way to attract new visitors. Especially if the hotel acts as a wedding or conference venue. Potential guests can view the amenities, rooms, and banquet facilities and decide whether the hotel is worth paying a visit to. According to a study by Omni Hotels, offering virtual tours increases room bookings by 67%.
Check out this virtual tour of the Budapest Marriott Hotel:
What we like: Virtual hotel tours aid in creating a more authentic experience. Guests can get a real feel for what it would be like to stay in the hotel, which speeds up the decision-making process.
2. Be active on social media.
As of 2023, there are 4.9 billion social media users. And you know what they say — be where your customers are. Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok are great channels to communicate with your prospects. You can use them to advertise last-minute deals, promote new packages, and organize competitions. You can even ask guests to tag your brand in their photos for more visibility.
What we like: Being on social media not only allows you to stay close to your customers but also to appear more human and less business-like. It’s a great channel for building more personal relationships with your guests and prospects.
3. Offer promotions.
One of the most effective sales strategies for hotels is offering special deals. If you’ve ever visited booking.com, then you’ve probably noticed that they often offer promotions. For instance, if you spend at least $200 before June 23, you’ll get a 10% cashback. This creates a sense of urgency among visitors.
You can either offer discounts for early bookings or throw in a complimentary add-on. For example, a breakfast or a room upgrade. Or offer a free flower bouquet to all customers who book a table with you for Valentine’s dinner before January 30.
What we like: Coming up with promotions and special deals shows customers that you appreciate them. Plus, if you let your creativity run free, it will help you stand out from the competition.
4. Take seasonality into account.
Where is your hotel located? Is it near a beach, a national park, or maybe close to a ski resort? Consider seasonality and make the most of your hotel’s location. If your property is next to ski slopes, you can offer a ski pass at a discounted price if your guests stay for at least a week (in the winter season). In spring and summer, you can talk to a local guide and organize trekking tours.
What we like: Guests who enjoy spending time outdoors will feel looked after. Organizing tours on your own is both time-consuming and can be complex at times.
5. Organize a social media competition.
Going back to social media — on top of responding to people’s questions and comments, you can consider organizing a little competition. Ask your visitors to share their best travel moments that include a stay in your hotel. Make sure to create a branded hashtag and tell customers to use it. Naturally, you’ll have to offer a prize to encourage hotel guests to take part.
What we like: It’s a great way to gain more brand exposure with little effort and a low cost. Creating a branded hashtag can also aid in creating a larger following and increasing engagement.
6. Partner up with Online Travel Agencies (OTA).
Some hotels avoid OTAs like fire. Why? They believe that it’s the best way to stay self-sustainable. Still, considering that booking sites make up over half of all online hotel reservations, you shouldn’t steer clear of them entirely. It’s about striking the right balance!
Travelers love OTAs as they can easily compare tens or hundreds of options for their stay. As they peruse the listings, they come across your offer. If you’re a boutique hotel or a B&B with a modest marketing budget, they can be a great way to promote your facility.
The question is — how to choose the right platforms? There are a few questions you should answer:
- How high is the commission?
- Is the percentage of the commission justified? Does the site help promote hotels, for example, by featuring them in Google Ads or blog posts?
- Do they charge a commission for no-shows?
- Can you adjust the number of rooms available on the platform without any limits?
What we like: OTAs know their travelers very well. This means that they can take care of pre-qualifying leads for you. They present your offer to those who closely fit your customer profile. Plus, OTAs can be a real blessing and generate leads off-season.
7. Consider creating your own loyalty program.
Even if your hotel is part of a global rewards program, it might be worth starting your own loyalty plan, too. Design it correctly, and you’ll have an additional way to boost customer lifetime value (CLV).
Among others, you’ll be able to:
- Grow the percentage of direct bookings and boost customer loyalty.
- Save on third-party commission. For example, if you normally pay 20% to an OTA, you could offer a more attractive price for those who book directly.
A good example is Tru by Hilton. This hotel chain lets its guests participate in multiple loyalty programs. They can earn Miles&More rewards, as well as collect points through the Hilton Honors program.
What we like: Loyalty programs can be a real game-changer for hotel chains. If your guests can unlock rewards relatively quickly, they’ll be more likely to choose your brand for their next trip. And this means potentially more sales for all locations.
8. Offer referral codes to guests.
Another great sales strategy is running a referral system. It can be a part of your loyalty program (i.e., points for referrals). Alternatively, you can offer codes to guests who are checking out, asking them to share them with family and friends.
If the discount is attractive enough (i.e., outbids all the online deals for your hotel), you might be able to grow a new customer base.
What we like: You can grow your referral program alongside your loyalty program. This will help generate more revenue from existing and new accounts. It’s the perfect blend of a well-thought-out strategy and word-of-mouth magic.
9. Ask for reviews and post them on your site.
Social proof works wonders for attracting new visitors. If you meet a guest who seems especially happy with their stay, ask them to write a review. You can then add it to your website. Make sure to monitor what people say about you online, and reply to every review, especially the negative ones.
What we like: Customers tend to trust fellow customers more than brands. So creating a steady flow of positive reviews will help you build credibility. Plus, they’re a great source of feedback.
10. Host an event.
If you manage a hotel and don’t host events, you’re missing out!
According to hospitality.net, 64% of event professionals plan to increase their spending on live events in 2023 and beyond. Organizing weddings, conferences, and other events can provide a significant revenue boost. Not only will you act as a venue, but you can also provide accommodations for the guests.
If they’re happy with the experience, they might recommend you to their friends, family, or colleagues.
What we like: It’s a great strategy for having your hotel fully booked. And since you’ll be hosting a large number of guests, they’ll keep returning if you make them happy. You might gain many loyal customers.
11. Create packages with various add-ons.
The perks you offer can be tangible (like a welcome fruit basket) or non-monetary, like late checkout or early check-in. Packages are a common practice at SPA resorts, where location often comes second to value for money.
Instead of having to pay for a separate room, massage, and breakfast and dinner, you could offer all of them at a single price. Or, if you’re an urban hotel, you could offer city sightseeing tickets. Add in a shuttle service, free baggage storage, 5% cashback… You name it!
What we like: You can experiment with packages. Publish them on your site and explore which ones are the most popular among each customer segment. This way, you’ll understand your guests’ perceived value for your service. You’ll also get a better estimate of their budget and the chances of upselling them during their stay.
12. Take part in trade shows for tourism and travel.
This strategy is especially important for hotels with group bookings. How so? It’s second to none when it comes to networking opportunities.
When you RSVP to a trade show, try to find out who else will be there. Think of potential partners like airlines, OTAs, or even international tourist chambers. Also, participate in lectures or workshops to learn about the latest hospitality trends. If you learn about anything that could affect your hotel, you’ll be able to adjust your sales strategy.
What we like: Live events can save you weeks, if not months, spent on cold calling or cold emailing. Building connections with fellow sales representatives or potential corporate clients will be much easier face-to-face.
13. Consider who else places bookings (hint: it’s not always the guest).
This sales strategy will work particularly well if:
- Most of your guests come through group bookings (think: weddings or company retreats)
- Your individual guests are traveling for business
For example, say that your hotel is located near an airport or a business district. It might be particularly attractive for corporate clients.
Reach out to the office manager or HR team and present your offer. To put your best foot forward, invite them over for a view of the facility. You could even discuss potential cooperation over coffee.
What we like: Your business guests aren’t usually those who make a booking, even if they have a personal preference for your hotel. Since it’s up to HR or the office manager to reserve rooms, it’s worth winning them over.
14. Build an effective sales team.
Who needs to be part of your team depends on your hotel’s unique circumstances. Still, consider separate representatives for managing:
- Individual/B2C sales
- Corporate accounts (individual business guests and events tailored to companies)
- Group reservations (hosting large events, conferences, weddings, etc.)
Each of your salespeople should have experience selling to these groups — they know best how to reach them.
What we like: For starters, you cover all potential customer groups. Also, you maintain a good customer experience, regardless of the client type. For example, your guest might spend a weekend at your facility and host their family event the following year. With the right team, you can guarantee the same standard and keep guests happy.
15. Create an attractive commission plan for your team.
Few salespeople rely solely on their base salary. According to Glassdoor, the average sales representative’s base pay-to-commission ratio stands at 60 to 40%. Here’s a more detailed estimate for those in the hospitality industry:
So, if you want to work with the best of the best, you need to offer an attractive commission scheme.
Naturally, how high it is and what the tiers are depends on a few factors. Your hotel size, revenue, as well as the team member’s sales experience, among others.
What we like: Offering commission is the best way to show your appreciation to your sales team. It keeps them motivated and lowers the risk of attrition. Not to mention, it gives everyone a financial buffer during the off-season. A win-win for all!
Building a Sound Sales Strategy for Your Hotel
Getting your hotel sales strategy right will likely be a trial-and-error endeavor. Luckily, there are tens of ideas to experiment with. Among others, you can run outreach to corporate clients, create retreat packages, and launch a loyalty program.
What works well for your hotel comes down to plenty of factors — hotel size, location, your target customers, and even your sales team structure. Use the ideas from this post to see what will fit you best.
Good luck — and here’s to boosting your hotel’s profitability!