Hotel Sales: What Is It and Who Is Your Target Audience?

This is Part 1 of our series on hotel sales strategies & sales plans. In this post, we will explain the jargon and prepare the groundwork for the sales plan.

What is a Hotel Sales Strategy?

A hotel sales strategy is the sales approach that a hotel takes to position the property and its services to a specific target audiences in a meaningful and differentiated way, that delivers better value to the audence than by their competitors. Most sales strategies are part of a detailed hotel sales plan

What is a Hotel Sales Plan?

Traditionally, a hotel sales plan describes the target audience, competition, sales strategy, goals and KPI’s. The document is usually made annually to have a step-by-step plan on how to hit sales and revenue goals the following year. However, many sales plans prove to be ineffective. This is due to the lack of vision, innovation, hotel sales ideas, and use throughout the year.

What’s the Goal of Corporate Hotel Sales?

The main revenue generator for hotels is room sales. To drive room revenue, hotels hire sales staff to contract companies and individuals. For example, a hotel sales manager might want to contract Amazon to ensure that their employees/guests/contractors stay at the hotel whenever they are in town. In exchange, the sales manager will give a fixed rate, discounted rate or other benefits (e.g. breakfast included, upgrade) whenever an Amazon guest stays at the hotel. The intent of the contract is to ensure a certain loyalty, room night production or revenue. The word “intent” is important to note as this is the main difference between hotel sales and other types of sales. Corporate hotel contracts rarely enforce a specific revenue. This makes it difficult to predict how much revenue a contract will generate. Most sales managers will state that this is the nature of the business, however, it’s frequently used as an excuse for bad contracting.

What is a Target Audience?

A target audience is the demographic of people most likely to be interested in your hotel’s offering. Hotels usually target one or several of the following audiences:

Corporate Customers

  • Contracted Business Travellers
    • Corporate Travellers
    • Government
    • Airline Crews
  • Group Travel
    • Conferences & Banquets
    • Incentive Travel Leisure Customers
  • Individual Leisure Guests
  • Tour Operators
  • Wholesalers
  • Weddings & Events

Which target audiences a hotel target is dependent on many factors such as:

  • Hotel Type e.g: Boutique vs Extended Stay
  • Location e.g: Airport vs Innercity
  • Price e.g: Budget vs Luxury
  • Facilities e.g: Rooftop Pool vs Vending Machines
  • Services e.g: 24/7 Checkin vs Kids Club
  • Staff e.g: Self Service vs Hotel Porter

Example 1. A budget hotel located close to an airport will oftentimes have a strategy that is focussed on corporate travellers (as most tourists do not prefer spending their holidays looking at airplanes). A logical strategy might be to target airline crews and companies with offices near the airport.

Example 2. A hotel located in Miami Beach with beach access and large conference venues will most likely focus on attracting leisure travellers, weddings and incentive travellers.

Creating a Hotel Buyer Persona

If this is your first sales plan or you're writing this for a new property, I strongly recommend creating personas of your target audience. A Persona or Buyer Persona are fictional representations of your perfect customer. You make them to better understand your customer's needs and desires and to know which message, offer and reach-out will be most effective. Hubspot offers free persona templates that you can use. Say you’re touring a travel manager around at your hotel, it might be good to put more focus on safety procedures, cleanliness and price. Whereas an HR might be more focussed on employee wellbeing, company fit and distance to the office. Personas will help to better personalize your offer to a specific target audience. In Part 2 we will go into the chapters of your hotel sales plan and frequently asked questions.

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