Is Data Really the Secret to Booking More Meetings?

by | Aug 1, 2017 | For Hoteliers

Most hotel sales managers turn to complementary spa treatments, elaborate F&B experiences, and peppy follow-up calls to close group business.

But the rise in group data and meeting analytics is changing the game. Hotels are getting smarter and leveraging group business data to supercharge their conversions.

Knowledge is indeed power, and the right data can give your hotel a massive competitive advantage, as well as give you the right information to make smarter decisions.

At Groups360, we’re obsessed with data. And we uncover trends and surprising insights on groups, meetings and events that are not readily available.

Here’s what we know for sure.

Hotels have to be all in, or not at all

Sales directors can’t afford to ignore their own statistics, including a group’s history, or base decisions on merely gut feelings. Today, your hotel sales success relies on group data and analytics.

There are more than 2 million events a year in just the U.S. alone. If you want to compete effectively for that group business revenue, you can’t rely on anecdotal information. You have to be data-driven in all your sales transactions, not just for certain accounts or certain aspects of the sales process. Only hotels that commit to being completely data-driven will see its value.

Most hotels only receive the bare minimum of metrics

Most hotels believe they are already fully invested in the right group data that will win them more meetings and events. However, even if you’re turning to readerboards for basic group information, STR to benchmark your hotel against your comp set, and SalesForce, Hoovers, or Delphi FDC, this still leaves you in the shallows when understanding the most fitting groups to pursue, understanding the likelihood of winning a particular event, and myriad other vital insights.

The meetings industry is bursting with data that can win you more business. Consider how much these types of past, present and predictive group data can immediately boost your conversion rate.

New possibilities within old data

Everyone on your team knows your major accounts and definite business. Your team is already nurturing those relationships for repeat business. However, a goldmine of group sales opportunities lie in your lost/turned down groups, where you can find seven to 12 times more contacts.

According to our research, 95% of new business can be found in old group data. After all, these groups are already familiar with your brand and your property and have established a relationship with a sales manager, and they have possibly already experienced the property on a site visit. Look to these old groups to drive sustainable group revenue.

Group space hogs

It’s not unusual for a hotel to run out of venue space before sleeping rooms. The culprit? Groups that take up more event space than guest rooms. Superior historical data can help you identify these space hogs ahead of time. Plus, take some proactive steps to keep your sales team on track with a sustainable ratio of meeting space to guest rooms.

Set a target ratio of ballrooms and breakout space — your most in-demand meeting space — to the number of group sleeping rooms sold. When you hit your target, you’re closer to selling out the hotel. If you exceed the ratio, this indicates you sold too much event space and are now left with the challenge of having to sell a surplus of sleeping rooms, possibly at a deeper discount.

Planner insight

Each group, corporate event planner, group event and RFP hides significant untold details that only historical data can reveal. Knowing these hidden factors can swiftly propel your chances of winning each bid including:

  • Price sensitivity. Today’s group data can reveal the level of a group’s price sensitivity for any given market.
  • True destination preference. Data can help you determine if your hotel matches the group’s top travel destinations. This will help you narrow your focus, instead of wasting too much time on a long shot.
  • Offers to sway decision. Data shows a meeting planner’s “make it or break it” decision factor so you can build custom and targeted offers. And — surprise — 60% of the time, it is not about dropping price.
  • What an event planner values. Data can help you understand what each meeting and event planner truly values for their event. Meeting planners book a venue based on its perceived value, and hotels win when they deliver beyond the price they quote.

Note that GroupSync and GroupSync Analytics reveal all these vital insights, including a group’s past spend, planner preferences, likelihood of winning that piece of business and more.

Make sure to outline your hotel’s key performance indicators, such as revenue per square foot of meeting space or revenue per group room, so you can evaluate your sales managers’ performances, push them to hit their sales targets, and most importantly, guide them to the right groups.