Do you know how to identify specific markets, segments, and/or accounts that are currently doing business in your competitive set? Think before you answer; if you know of business that is in your set, that’s a good start, but knowing that it’s there does not, of itself, represent a plan to steal that business. Here’s a harsh reality; for many markets it may be an understatement to say that 2017 will not be 2016. There are economic factors, political factors, environmental factors, and more, all of which stand to make the new year even more challenging than the old. Strategizing and executing in this environment is even more important, as we cannot rely on 2017 to behave as last year did.
It should be fundamental that in support of our 2017 Marketing Plan we pursue how to increase business from markets, segments, or accounts that we are already benefiting from. If we’re already having some success, it stands to reason that we can have more success. How to do this is where the rubber meets the road, and aiming for more from existing sources is never a bad idea. There are often cases where there is additional business already in our competitive set that could just as easily be in our hotels, if we knew it, and if we knew how to go after it.
The exercise is this; using a variety of market intelligence tools available (both technology-driven and manual), someone on your Sales team should own the responsibility for uncovering existing business in your competitive set. It’s crucial to note that this person may or may not be the same person that actually solicits this business once it’s been identified. With proper direction, an up-and-coming Sales Manager or Administrative assistant can be challenged with the task of doing the necessary research on both Transient business as well as Group business in your market. It’s not enough just to stand in the competition’s lobby once or twice a week to read their directory–we need to attack this from all sides. Once the research is underway and starting to produce results, you may want to have the data turned over to a more-experienced salesperson for the actual solicitation process. That, of course, is up to you.
Stealing business from your competition is easier than finding new business. This does not mean that every customer that you approach who currently uses a competitor will happily run to your hotel, but it does mean that customers already using your competition are customers who have already raced past at least two of the primary obstacles to selling, namely location and price. No, there are never any guarantees, but it is logical to assume that if a property is already in our competitive set, its location and its price point and overall positioning are at least reasonably similar to our own.
Assigning the responsibility of identifying existing business so that we can steal that business is something that we as the leaders of our hotels and sales organizations must embrace. Measurable goals must be assigned to stealing existing competitive set business just as with potential new sources of business.
Key to our success in this approach is the knowledge that business that is already in our competitive set could just as easily be in OUR hotel as in our neighbor’s.