Hotel Sales: How to Create a Sales Plan and Strategy

This is Part 2 of our series on hotel sales strategies & sales plans. In Part 1 we explained the basic jargon and the different target audiences. In this post, we will cover the chapters of a hotel sales plan and frequently asked questions.

Writing Your Hotel Sales Plan

When the target audience of your hotel has ben defined, it’s time to start writing the sales plan. The most important part of the sales plan is the sales strategy. This chapter should explain exactly how you will ensure that your hotel will reach its sales & revenue goals. A sales plan should consist of the following chapters:

  • Target Audience
    • Which target audience(s) is your hotel targeting?
    • What makes them special?
    • What are their characteristics? Do they have a certain size, industry, price-sensitivity or are they in specific location e.g. innercity locations?
  • Competition
    • Where is your perfect guest staying now?
    • Why are they staying there?
    • What are your competitors doing better than you/your sales team?
  • USP - Unique Selling Points
    • What does your hotel / serviced apartment offer that's unique in the market?
    • What value can you offer your corporate customers that your competitors can't?
      • Try to explain the USP as a benefit (how it improves the customer's life) instead of a feature (a specific service or facility).
  • Sales Strategy
    • Your Offering
      • What can your sales team offer corporate customers that will make them want to sign a partnership and start booking?
      • What events, offers, pop-ups, gifts, reach-outs, information can help to attract more corporate customers? The key here is to be creative and don’t go for the obvious (read: lazy) choices. If your go-to gift is a bottle of wine for Christmas or a stroopwafel (for the Dutchies), it’s time to rethink your strategy.
    • Action Plan
      • What actions are you planning throughout the year to grow your corporate revenue?
      • How are you going to find, reach and close your perfect corporate customers? In this day and age, cold calling and sales blitzes are not the most effective sales methods. You need to think carefully about what will be the most effective actions.
    • Support
      • What support do you need to pull your strategy off?
      • Do you need help from other departments such as support from operations to pull off an corporate event or more budget from the GM? Ensure to inform your colleagues about this.
      • Are there any specific tools you need to reach your goals? Do you need a CRM? What about the Rocket Fuel platform to dramatically increase your odds of closing more business and saving time?
    • Goals & KPI
      • Make sure to list measurable goals & KPIs to measure your progress. These can be anything from number of new partners, corporate room nights produced or number of love letters from your corporate partners. Which KPI's you select should be based on the larger goals of the organisation.
    • Budget
      • What do you need to pull off the sales plan? Be realistic in your calculations and get a sign-off.

Common Questions & Hesitations

“Why should I write a sales plan if nobody uses it?”

A common complaint I often hear from sales managers is that nobody cares about the plan after the approval. So you might wonder why you should even take the time to write an elaborate sales plan at all. In my opinion, it can best be explained by the famous quote from Alice in Wonderland: “Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” The Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” Alice: “I don't much care where.” The Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn't much matter which way you go” The sales plan will force you to take the time and critically think about where you want to go in the next year(s), and to structure your thoughts on paper. It should be your guide and also be a document that you can give to a new hire or trainee to get them up to speed quickly.

“My manager only cares about actions and budget, why should I create an in-depth strategy”

If you see the writing of the sales plan as something to make your manager happy, it will become a useless document. By taking your time, preferably over a 1 month period, to let your strategy sink in and develop and receive feedback from colleagues, it will become an essential document. This is also why I recommend against using pre-filled/previous sales plans where you just change a few sentences the following year.

Finally, writing a great sales plan is a tough but rewarding task. It teaches you to zoom out from the day-to-day business and think critically, make important decisions and come up with creative solutions that will help you to get an edge over your competitors and generate more reveneu.

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