Watch the video below for a quick overview
Explainer Video (less than 5 minutes)
Brand and marketing managers at an upscale to luxury hospitality brand know that Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) related sales are a high priority due to high revenue potential and high-profit margins.
The graphics below show the relative importance of MICE sales with respect to corporate block sales and retail sales.
35% of meetings in the US are held at venues with lodging resulting in over 275 million room nights annually. 54% of all business trips are MICE trips.
More importantly, Millennials and Gen-Ys are the main driving force. To them experience matters.
So mastering MICE sales is important to boost revenue, secure additional high margin bookings and build a reputation.
MICE Sales Challenges
Unfortunately, when you talk to sales teams at the prominent upscale, upper-upscale and luxury chains, you find a lot of frustration due to:
- Disappointing win rate in MICE deals after spending significant time and effort to prepare sales proposals.
- Long and unpredictable sales cycles due to lack of insight into the buyer’s level of interest.
- The constant demand for deep discounting despite market position as a premium brand.
Brand managers are frustrated that their brand’s investments are not translating into premium pricing during the sales process.
Marketing managers are frustrated that despite their heroic efforts to curate a huge collection of images and videos, the sales team is not able to leverage them to reinforce the brand’s differentiated, premium experience.
Root Causes of these Sales Challenges
As usual, there is a lot of finger-pointing. Industry analysts often explain these sales challenges as a result of powerful economic and social forces. Looking closely at the sales operations of some of the most prominent luxury, upper-upscale and upscale hospitality brands, we found something very surprising:
There are only three minor things that can be easily overlooked that are the root causes of the sales challenges in the hospitality industry.
Before we explain these root causes, let’s quickly understand an outsized role that the sales proposal plays in winning the MICE and the corporate block sale deals.
As we all know, the buyer’s journey neither starts nor ends by visiting your property, feeling impressed with your facilities and making an instantaneous decision. Instead, it is a long and winding journey that starts with the online discovery, followed by visits to multiple competing options where every sales team highlights their key differentiators and premium experiences.
At the end of this journey, as your prospects get closer to making a decision, their memory is blurred and they have completely mixed up your premium, luxury experience with all of your competitors.
So winning a MICE deal is currently dependent on a faint memory of an overwhelmed buyer and your sales proposal’s ability to reinforce your brand.
Does your sales proposal reinforce your brand experience?
Here is how most sales teams respond to a qualified sales opportunity:
- To personalize the proposal based on the requirements gathered during the sales engagement, onsite visits as well as from request for proposals, the salesperson curates photos and video clips that can effectively communicate their brand experience. This is usually a very time consuming and laborious task since the information is spread across the website, in pinboards on Pinterest, on local file servers and on cloud-based repositories. Research has shown that sales teams spend 31% of their time searching for and curating appropriate content to share with the customer.
- The sales team uses Word or PowerPoint-based template to create personalized proposals. Summarizing the client’s requirements, describing pricing as well as terms and conditions is fairly straightforward – the kind of stuff Word and PowerPoint were designed to do. Representing your brand experience through rich media content is next to impossible with these tools. So they end up with a ‘document’ containing tiny, low-resolution images that do not enable the buyer to relive your brand’s experience when they are making the decision.
- Finally, the proposal is converted into a PDF and sent out in an email along with a few rich media links. The salesperson has no idea who viewed the proposal, how much time was spent and in what sequence did the buyers view the content behind the links.
The buyer receives a number of such plain vanilla proposals. Unable to recall the premium and differentiated experience of your brand, they commoditize it by using a pricing discount as the most significant decision criterion.
Your sales team has lost all leverage since they were unable to reinforce your brand experience and are unable to capture any insights into the buyer’s decision-making criteria. Desperate to remain engaged and not lose the deal, they start hinting at potential discounts.
It is amazing how uniformly this scenario plays out at almost every hospitality brand.
3 small things that caused big problems … for MICE sales
So there you have it. Your sales team is losing high value and high margin MICE (as well as corporate block sale) opportunities due to three small things:
- Scattered content that requires tremendous time to curate but ultimately fails to communicate your premium brand experience.
- Existing tools – Word and PowerPoint – that severely limit the ability to communicate your premium brand experience
- PDF and emails linked to disparate media sources that do nothing to provide actionable insights to sales. Desperate to not lose the deals, they resort to heavy discounting.
Here is the good news:
If these observations resonate with you, and if improving revenue and margins is a high priority for your brand, then it can be achieved quickly and with little investment or effort.
To learn more about how leading upscale and luxury hospitality brands are improving MICE sales performance and to see the sample of sales proposal that reinforces your brand experience, please contact us or call us at +1 800 255 5303.