With Cross-Property Lead Sharing Solution
Achieves 42% Revenue Gain, 18-Month ROI
on Technology Investment
|June 14, 2004 - What do most world-class companies do when faced with
an operational problem? Many of them turn to the internationally known
Six-Sigma process, which can modernize auto production, streamline healthcare
delivery, or -- in the hospitality industry – boost revenue gains 42 percent.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. recently proved the validity
of this process at the company’s Atlanta cluster of seven high-end hotels.
“Six Sigma is a method to optimize the way hotels operate,” explained
Jeff Guy, area director of sales and marketing based at Starwood’s Westin
Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta. “It analyzes processes, looks for faults,
resolves faults with solutions, and then retests the process. It’s a circle,
an ongoing loop, and we successfully used it to boost bookings among our
Atlanta sister properties.” Guy noted one result of the practice,
which included installing a multi-property sales system, is that “Sales
managers can now sell any of the seven Atlanta properties as if they were
extensions of their own hotel.”
“This was a time-consuming process and, all too often, the possibility for a sale was lost as soon as the prospect hung up from the initial inquiry,” says Jeff Guy of The Westin Peachtree Plaza. “Once a prospect gets off the phone, they start looking elsewhere. We needed a way to instantaneously determine which sister hotels were large enough to accommodate the meeting or had availability to house the group – all while the customer was still on the phone.”
Sales managers now close cross-property sales during the initial customer call
During mid-2001, a project team from the Starwood Atlanta cluster investigated the multi-property lead sharing sales applications on the market. Delphi MPE was selected for its ability to provide meeting space and sleeping room visibility across the Atlanta group of hotels, which was critical to enabling sales managers to close sales during the initial customer call.
The Westin Buckhead Atlanta’s Dawn Truemper stressed that the sales force was given financial incentives to lead share. “We did not increase their sales quotas when we brought the new process online because we did not want them to view it as something they had to do, but rather as something that would help them in reaching their existing goals.” Another important part of Starwood’s Atlanta property cross-selling initiative involves educating the sales force about all of the local Starwood hotels. “That way, our sales people not only promote the properties to customers more effectively, but should they want to transfer to another hotel, they will have already sold accommodations for that property,” Truemper says. “Experience in cross-selling can be a good career move!”
Besides enabling sales managers to respond immediately to callers, the multi-property sales system and its lead sharing capability make prospecting for customers much more effective. “If the team at my 300-room hotel is prospecting and discovers a piece of business that requires more space than we offer, we might in the past have let the business go or written it down to cross-sell to another property at a later date,” Truemper says. “But now, we can cross-sell our prospecting opportunities immediately, on the spot.”
Today, Starwood’s Atlanta cluster comprises seven diverse hotels that take advantage of the sales systems’ rapid-response lead sharing; The Westin Peachtree Plaza, The Westin Buckhead, The Westin Atlanta North at Perimeter, Sheraton Suites Galleria, W Atlanta, Sheraton Gateway Atlanta Airport, and Sheraton Midtown Atlanta Hotel at Colony Square. “For customers who cannot be accommodated by a particular property, we now have an unprecedented opportunity to book more business for Starwood by offering them something while they are still on the phone. For every customer we can always offer six other hotels in various locations around Atlanta; frequently we can find one that meets their needs,” Truemper says.
“The success of our lead sharing process does not rest on the ‘mechanics’ of being able to immediately offer customers a hotel that meets their booking requirements,” says Truemper. “We recognize that the customer making the inquiry has a particular hotel or brand in mind and is therefore receptive to making a commitment. Since our sales managers have real-time availability on their screen, they can sell the properties more confidently. These are important human factors in closing a sale that the real-time response of our cross-property lead sharing solution brings to the fore.”
About Newmarket International
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