Most hotel sales managers turn to comp spa treatments, elaborate F&B experiences and peppy follow-up calls to close group business.

But the rise in group and meeting analytics is changing the game. Hotels are sharpening up and leveraging group business data to supercharge their conversions.

Knowledge is indeed power and the right data can give your hotel a massive competitive advantage, as well as give you the right information to make smarter decisions.

My colleagues and I are obsessed with data. And, we're enthusiastic about uncovering trends and surprising insight on groups, meetings and events that are not readily available.

This is what we know for sure:

Hotels have to be all in, or not at all

Directors of Sales can’t afford to ignore their own statistics, a group’s history or base decisions on simple gut feelings. Today, your hotel’s group sales success relies on data. There are more than 2 million events a year in just the US alone.

If you want to compete effectively for that group business revenue, you can’t rely on anecdotal information. You have to be data-driven in all your sales transactions, not just for certain accounts or certain aspects of the sales process. Only hotels that commit to being completely data-driven will see its value.

Most hotels only receive the bare minimum metrics

Most hotels believe they are already fully invested in the right data that will win them more meetings and events. However, even if you’re turning to readerboards for basic group information, STR to benchmark your hotel against your comp set, and SalesForce, Hoovers, or Delphi FDC, this still leaves you in the shallows when understanding the most fitting groups to pursue, understanding the likelihood of winning a particular event and a myriad of other vital insights.

The meetings industry is bursting with data that can win you more business.

Consider how much these past, present and predictive group data can immediately boost your conversion rate:

New Possibilities Within Old Data

Everyone on your team knows your major accounts and definite business. Your team is already nurturing those relationships for repeat business. However, a goldmine of group sales opportunities lie in your lost/turned down groups, where you can find 7 to 12 times more contacts.

According to our research, 95 percent of new business can be found in old data. After all, these groups are already familiar with your brand, your property, have established a relationship with a sales manager and possibly have already experienced the property on a site visit. Look to these old groups to drive sustainable group revenue.

Group Space Hogs

It’s not unusual for a hotel to run out of venue space before sleeping rooms. The culprit? Groups that take up more event space than guest rooms. Superior historical data can help you identify these space hogs ahead of time. Plus, take some proactive steps to keep your sales team on track with a sustainable ratio of meeting space and guestrooms. Set a target ratio of ballrooms and breakout space, your most in-demand meeting space, to the number of group sleeping rooms sold. When you hit your target, you’re closer to selling out the hotel. If you exceed the ratio, this indicates you sold too much event space and are now left with the challenge of having to sell a surplus of sleeping rooms.

Planner Insight

There are significant untold details behind each group, planner and RFP that only historical data can reveal. Knowing these hidden factors can swiftly propel your chances of winning each bid including:

Price Sensitivity

Today’s group data can reveal the level of a group’s price sensitivity for any given market.

True Destination Preference

Data can help you determine if your hotel matches the group’s top travel destinations. This will help you narrow your focus, instead of wasting too much time on a long shot.

Offers to Sway Decision

Data shows a planner’s ‘make it or break it’ decision factor so you can build custom and targeted offers. And, surprise, 60 percent of the time, it is NOT about dropping price!

What a Planner Values

Data can help you understand what each planner truly values for their event. Meeting planners book a venue based on its perceived value and hotels win when they deliver beyond the price they quote.

Make sure to have outlined your hotel’s Key Performance Indicators (such as revenue per square foot of meeting space or revenue per group room), so you can evaluate your sales managers’ performances, push them to hit their sales targets and most importantly, guide them to the right groups to target.