MICE technology has become one of the hottest topics of the MICE industry in the past few years. We are looking at a complete re-modelling of sales channels and the associated tools. But are we focusing enough on our sales processes when everything else is changing? Based on industry talk: no. Many hoteliers still believe that their sales processes are fine, so why change something that isn’t broken? In this article we explore the changing world of MICE sales processes and why they need to be under frequent and critical review.
The digital age implies a huge cultural transformation for both MICE professionals as well as their customers. We currently know that:
- Customers are contacting and booking using different and a greater variety of channels than ever before.
- Customers are making purchase decisions faster, as information is more freely available.
- Customers almost never do a physical site visit without initial online research, making it much more difficult to impress potential short listers without good online content.
All of these changing customer behaviours indicate a fast-changing need for MICE professionals to adapt along with their customers, and in order to do so we most often purchase a variety of technologies. But we tend to think of technology as acquiring new gadgets and apps in order to replace something old. Instead, we could think of technology as a way to find new shortcuts and harnessing the unfulfilled potential we aren’t currently reaching. Could we use these benefits to enhance our processes and make them more efficient, instead of replacing old processes with new ones. an And if so, how?
The Skift report Decoding intelligent sales – the key to winning group business in 2020, raises a great example of an area of sales in the meeting industry, the smaller group bookings, which could be greatly enhanced with implementing more technology:
“At the same time, demand for smaller meetings is growing, often accounting for as much as 80 percent of a hotel’s group earnings, according to Malhotra.” Decoding intelligent sales – the key to winning group business in 2020.
With the focus on the larger groups and the greater profits they will bring, it’s much easier to prioritize them and handle the smaller queries later, even at the cost of losing business. But here’s the fun part; while concentrating on the more profitable leads, you can use technology to your advantage by adapting your sales practices to do most of the work for the smaller customers. For instance:
- Use truthful visual materials and relevant software to create a virtual sales pitch, which answers most frequently answered questions. This will cut down on the back and forth communication between you and the customer, saving a lot of time and effort. This will take some of the menial manual labour off your shoulders while still maintaining a certain amount of actual human customer service.
- Implement automatic replies to customer messages promising an answer within a certain time period. Simultaneously try to guide them in the message towards your sales materials to keep them interested and whet their appetites. The worst thing to do is to leave them hanging or reply several days later when they have effectively moved on.
- Use data to your advantage. Who is looking at your content and why? Where are they from? Your data will provide you with a much clearer idea of your buyer personas and the content they want to see. This will help you tailor your sales materials appropriately, market to the correct audience and altogether provide better service.
These are just a few examples of how you can reinforce your old processes by implementing something new. The fountain of potential in event tech is endless; devices are used to connect people, deepen and expand our experience in meetings, as well as make consuming information easier to handle. But it’s not a magical fix. Each app, device or technological forum requires modifying your work routines and making them a natural part of your process. You may be surprised by how many stages of your sales process could be altered to convert more leads or increase productivity with just some minor tweaks – if you have the motivation.
So ask yourself: if another vendor’s buying process is easier, faster and more efficient – which one of you is your customer going to choose in the future?
Author: Saila Sinokki
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