In an exclusive dialogue with Today’s Traveller, Jit Bose, Area Director of Sales & Marketing – South India, Director of Sales & Marketing – Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park, IHG Hotels & Resorts shares insights on Challenges and Pain Points for Sales teams in 2022.
TT Bureau: What are the changes in the sales approach in leveraging business opportunities?
Jit Bose : Covid has completely changed how we do business. A lot of property visits have been eliminated, which has been replaced by virtual tours, digital property walk-throughs. Face-to-face interactions have gone down, and hotels have successfully been able to manage to maintain the same levels of interactions and have been able to covert business through Microsoft team calls.
TT Bureau: As the world has moved towards automation, what percentage of hotel sales do you feel has moved online?
Jit Bose : A large part of the transient business has moved online lately. While it was a growing trend even before Covid but post-pandemic, this has grown exponentially. The Hotel Website and Online Travel Agents have been preferred channels for bookings. Even group meetings and wedding queries are now being received online.
To address the shift of consumers to online portals, hotels have invested in technology that helps them in online distribution and rate parity. Since rate parity and rate shopping have a direct effect on business and consumer confidence, these tools have become a “must-have” for today’s hospitality tech stack, empowering hotels with 24/7 monitoring, automated alerts, and deep data analytics.
As hotels develop their rate monitoring discipline, it optimizes both their rates and its channels for the ideal business mix. The right mix boosts revenue not just by selling rooms at the best possible price but also by leveraging new channels.
TT Bureau : What are the major challenges faced by Sales teams post the 3 Covid waves?
Jit Bose : We are in the people business and the team would rather meet the client
s in person for business closure and build stronger relationships for the future. This has been a great challenge, but post-pandemic a lot of our clients are gradually returning to the office.
Yet, not all are ready to meet us like pre covid times. Also, the suspension of global tourism has hit the Indian hospitality industry hard, it’s time to shift the larger focus on the domestic demands. Millions of travelers, who are unable to travel overseas, look for quality domestic alternatives.
So, focusing on internal tourism is the way forward. Lastly, the global health crisis actually offers a unique opportunity to rethink prevailing business models in the hospitality space. The idea is to develop experiences that satisfy the domestic as well as local needs of the communities.
Adaptability is the key to survival and those who are seizing this opportunity are further enabling the inclusive and sustainable growth of the sector.
TT Bureau : How do you keep up the team’s morale during this tough phase?
Jit Bose : All of us were taken aback by the havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many employees transitioned to remote work in a sudden attempt to stop the spread of the virus, and it hasn’t been easy. Some are still trying to find the right balance between their professional and personal lives.
Though this has been the most trying time for our industry, our resilient teams stood tough through these difficult times. We tried many unique online ways to stay connected. We engaged them in online training resources which allowed flexibility of their time while being extremely interesting and knowledge/skill-enhancing.
This was well appreciated. IHG globally made a number of entertainment apps available for the staff. Lastlystaying connected with your employees regularly to understand their concerns helps.
Some of them could be overwhelmed by their to-do list or held up with meetings that they haven’t been able to start that project you asked them for. Others may not have the technology they need to be more productive, or they may feel lonely and isolated working from home. All these issues are important and addressing them properly helps boost morale across the board.
TT Bureau : Are there enough business opportunities in the market for sales teams to achieve the desired targets?
Jit Bose : We are seeing encouraging pick-up and healthy pace of future bookings and feel that the recovery will be much faster than what we all expect. There is a pent-up demand from social events and corporate meetings.
As corporate India is planning to get back to working from the office soon, this will further increase the demand from the corporate sector. We also foresee the international business travel resuming shortly which will further fuel demand. Vaccine booster doses will further boost travel confidence amongst travelers.
As the demand gradually returns we need to closely watch how the average rates recover hereafter. IHG Clean promise is IHG Hotels & Resort’s global commitment to hygiene and safety levels at our hotels across the globe which we are promoting strongly and will further reinforce the confidence amongst our travelers.
TT Bureau : Is a new business model needed for Sales teams to perform at an optimum level?
Jit Bose : We need to equip the teams with the best training and all the support needed to be successful in the post covid world. We need to start building back a team as demand picks up.
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