Hotel Online  Special Report

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Starwood Atlanta Cluster Converts 312% More Business
With Cross-Property Lead Sharing Solution
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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.”
 

Dawn Truemper, director of sales and marketing at The Westin Buckhead in Atlanta, said that a return-on-investment for the multi-property sales software was achieved in 18 months.  “The group’s lead conversion rate jumped from 8 percent to 33 percent during the sales systems’ first full month of operation.  That leap sustained itself for a return-on-investment in half the three years we thought it would take when, in September 2002, we installed the Delphi™ Multi-Property Edition (MPE) company wide sales and marketing management system from Newmarket International.  You could say it has exceeded expectations.”

Sharing leads real-time books more business

The opportunity identified by the Starwood Atlanta region’s Six Sigma project team was clear: there was an opening to book more business by capturing a much higher percentage of in-bound leads through cross-selling between the cluster’s seven sister properties. Meeting planners for groups and associations frequently called an Atlanta Starwood property to book rooms only to be told the property’s 


Westin Peachtree Plaza
--

The Westin Buckhead
meeting space was too small, or they did not have the availability to handle the group.  The sales manager taking the call would then offer to have an Atlanta ‘sister’ property able to meet the requirements contact the customer.  The sales manager then entered the planner’s information and requirements into Starwood’s intranet lead-sharing program. When the sister hotel’s sales manager accessed the lead – up to 24 hours later – he or she would call the customer if accommodations were available.

“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 Starwood
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with more than 750 properties in more than 80 countries and 110,000 employees at its owned and managed properties.  With internationally renowned brands, Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels and resorts.  Properties include::  St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Westin, Four Points by Sheraton, W brands, as well as Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts.  For more information, please visit www.starwood.com.

About Newmarket International
Newmarket International’s hospitality solutions are used by nearly 4,000 properties in more than 60 countries to generate new business and run their daily operations. The company’s applications help market and manage more than 140 million square feet of convention, meeting and banquet space and hundreds of thousands of guestrooms. Newmarket’s solutions enable cross-selling, automated lead generation, electronic creation and distribution of account information and proposals, and efficient enterprise management. By combining award-winning technology and support, the industry’s best return on investment and an 18-year commitment to the travel industry, Portsmouth, N.H.-based Newmarket International is uniquely positioned and proven to help hospitality professionals “Book More Business” and maximize profits. For more information, call 888.829.8871 or visit www.newmarketinc.com.

Newmarket International HITEC Booth #1502


 
 
Contact:

Dawn Truemper
Director of Sales and Marketing
The Westin Buckhead
(404) 365-6336
dawn.Truemper@westin.com
www.starwood.com

Shawn McDonald
Director of Marketing
Newmarket International Inc.
(603) 430-7434
smcdonald@newmarketinc.com
www.newmarketinc.com

Also See: Dolce International Rides Trend of Increased Group Business Leads From Internet Channels; Global Leader in Conference Destinations Shares Leads via Network Technology, Web Connectivity; Group Leads Increase 10%, Definite Bookings Up 5% Over Last Year / May 2004
Meeting Planners Expand Internet Use in 2004, Web-Channel Group Business Increases 428% in 2003 / April 2004

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