Inside Sales teams at hotels get contacted for a variety of reasons. One day they may receive a call from an event organizer seeking an intimate wedding venue, plus room and board for a few dozen people. Other days, someone might be trying to book a 1,000-person conference with rooms in a variety of nearby properties.
In either scenario, there are many logistics at play: catering, meals, room availability, vendors, and/or special A/V requirements. The Inside Sales team faced a labor and time-intensive process each time a group request came in. With requests as small as family reunions and as large as multiple-day enterprise conferences, they had to call each local hotel in their portfolio. They might play phone and email tag, and ask each hotel repeat questions about availability, logistics capabilities, and other factors.
Instead of having to call individual hotels for quotes, this hospitality company wanted a smarter way to help customers find available spaces that meet their requirements. Ideally, the Global Sales Office would gather requirements for a request, create a RFP (Request For Proposal) in Salesforce, match the right properties that meet the criteria, and send out the RFP to all portfolio properties. For this company, that could be 10+ hotels in one region.
The Inside Sales team and Client Event Planners wanted automated responses instead of phone-tag or missed email exchanges. They wanted to receive proposals from a range of properties offering different prices, amenities, and locations - so that they could get back to potential customers with options. Then, the customer could have the best information available to decide where to hold their event.
Moreover, the Inside Sales team wanted to standardize contracts. Should a customer decide on an event location, the Global Sales Office wanted to trigger a contract that could automatically comply with that particular location’s contract terms (which could differ from property to property).
Most of this organization’s business processes had been instituted several years prior. As the company grew to be one of the largest hospitality companies in the world, the volume of requests became unwieldy. They needed to start operating at a global level, instead of thinking of each individual property as a separate entity.
This type of automation was totally new for the company. But if implemented successfully, it could serve as the model for the brand’s entire global footprint.
Thus began the work of implementing a truly global Inside Sales RFP process. Consultants from Lab5 felt that driving requests immediately toward the appropriate venues would be an immediate value-add. If done properly, it would cut down on communication back-and-forths and missed windows of opportunity. A more scalable process would empower Inside Sales people each time they received a request.
As a first step, the consultants analyzed current customer and sales management processes. Right away, they noticed that the team used very manual processes, from email to document templates to lots of copy-and-paste in Word. They uncovered opportunities to automate these processes to save time and create higher visibility levels.
As they worked, consultants from Lab5 continued to check with end users downstream, to understand how changes and experiments were impacting both the Inside Sales team and their customers and potential customers.
The next step involved building out a custom method for matching properties, with each request containing a complete list of requirements. They also automated document generation so that no one would be stuck copying and pasting information into different documents to send to properties. They consolidated and automatically generated standard RFPs, and created an ability for automated response and email workflows. They also automated the ability to send the finished proposal to its original requester.
After the custom functionality was built, the Inside Sales team was no longer tethered to their email inboxes. They had much more visibility into the status of each opportunity across their global properties. In-progress opportunities could be worked on by anyone on the team since all of the necessary information was readily visible.
Global Sales had direct insight into the agents on their team who were strongest, and where there were training opportunities. Inside Sales closed more deals, and spent less time on them. As a result, customers were more satisfied, and had faster response rates. Franchisees also saw a great added value as they started to receive more and more group sales requests.
Because of the Lab5 team’s experience in hospitality, tourism, and coworking, they were uniquely positioned to consult on this CRM and automation business case. They understood the business process challenges the client was experiencing, so they could advocate for end users and stakeholders.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone working in hospitality that doesn’t see the immediate value and necessity in having a strong CRM program,” said one member of the team.
“No one throws a 1,000 member conference only once. Without a strong CRM system to track every step of the sales cycle, from project execution to customer satisfaction and retention, that’s business and revenue you’re leaving on the table.”
Many of the use cases for this global hospitality company involve customers booking 1,000 rooms for a week, or 100 rooms every six weeks for employee training, or holding a summit once every three months.
Said this same team member: “Needless to say, that’s the type of business you want to keep. You need to have your finger on the pulse to ensure that business is returning, and that they’re happy.”
Google.org came to Lab5 at the launch of a major initiative: set up a multi-purpose space that amplifies the work of local nonprofits through free access to Google facilities and training, and implement a framework that can track communications, impact, and logistics.