Selling to the Medical Center Segment
- Brad BentonKeymasterFebruary 7, 2013 at 5:54 pmPost count: 148
Strategies for increasing room nights / room revenues from within the Medical Market:
1. Transient individual reservations (guests visiting the medical center including immediate family and friends)
2. Group Business
3. Resident/Intern or Fellowship Applicants
The following are strategies that will increase revenues in the above listed market segments.
GOAL: To increase (individual transient reservations) generated from the medical center (Visiting patients, and their families)
ASSUMPTION: Hotel is located within 5 miles of the medical center
A ‘medical rate’ must be entered into your property’s reservation system. The ‘medical rate can even the same your AAA Rate. This gives you a tool to be able to track the productivity of this market segment. However, a comp set call around exercise should be performed to position you hotel correctly. The rate plan must be easy for people to be able to reserve rooms at your property. It is important that everyone at the hotel knows this rate plan exists and it is easy for your Reservation Agents or your GSRs to book. This local rate plan must be promoted to all identified key contacts at the medical center that may also responsible for reserving hotel rooms.
A major benefit of loading the ‘medical rate’ into the reservation system is that the volume of business that this market segment generates can be tracked.
I believe the ‘medical rate’ should always be available and one that guests (and key booking individuals) can count on. You may want to set a ceiling on the inventory allocated during high demand periods.
All hotel personnel who make reservations must know that this rate plan exists.
Shop the local hotels you have identified as ones that serve the Medical Centers. Inquire whether they offer a discounted rate to patients and families who need to visit the medical center. Note: Inquire whether they offer shuttle service to the medical center. This will help us position the rate of your hotel.
Investigate the layout of your local medical center. Find out whether there are designated areas such as: Information desks, waiting rooms, clinics that allow local hotels (taxi services, restaurants, etc) to display a rack card brochure and a brochure rack.
Training: If we decide that the market segment is one we will target, the training of your staff will be very important to the success of this long term market campaign. The needs (and hot buttons) of guests within the transient medical market are different than the needs of your other transient guests.
Obtain a directory from your medical center. When you are out researching the medical center, try and pick up a directory of Departments, staff, etc. This directory becomes a very valuable tool for us to use in the future.
GOAL: (a) To increase (group business) generated from the medical center; (b) To increase (individual transient reservations) generated from the medical center (as they pertain to intern applicants, resident applicants and fellowship applicants as well as nurse recruitment and medical staff relocation)
SOURCE OF BUSINESS / WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
It is important to obtain the Medical Center directory. The directory will be one of the most valuable resources your sales office can have. All the medical center’s departments and staff should be in the directory. Everything a sales team needs to get started and pointed in the right direction will be in the directory. Begin with ‘A’ and work your way through to ‘Z’.
Good Examples would be departments and divisions such as: Anesthesiology, Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Department of Surgery, Pediatric Medicine, and Urology. Most departments have their own administrative assistants and social workers that are in a position to book hotel rooms or as in the case of medical center social workers, assist families with a variety of services (i.e. taxi services, restaurants, long term patient care services, ministries and hotels).
Other personnel such as the staff in the benefits and insurance offices refer and book hotel rooms. The list goes on. ‘Fine tooth comb’ the directory. Once you begin your outside direct sales efforts, you should be qualifying each department to uncover whether or not they would be a potential account and who their key booking personnel are.
It will be very common that one quality sales call will lead to another if the sales managers are simply asking the right qualifying questions. One good example would be, ‘Do you know anyone else or other departments who book hotel rooms or may be in the market for the use of a local hotel.
Other departments where group business may be found:
1. Continuing Medical Education / CME
2. Medical Education
3. Nursing Education
4. Conference Services
Other departments where individual transient business may be found:
1. Medical Center Admissions
2. Individual departments (Intern, Residents, and Fellowship Applicants)
3. Nurse and Doctor Relocations
RESOURCES/MISCELLANEOUS ACTION STEPS:
If we decide that the medical market is one that you will start a campaign for, then a Medical Rack Card Brochure will need to be designed. I suggest a first time print of 5000. This should be sufficient supply to last 1 year. However, before we go to print, you need to be sure we can distribute and saturate the medical center with your rack card. Otherwise, it will be a waster of money.
Plastic brochure rack card holders will need to be purchased. Office Max carries them.
I like the plastic rolodex business cards. It makes it very easy for the person booking the reservation to find your hotel’s phone number, etc. The one draw back to this is the cost.
Give-a-ways such as pens, highlighters, mouse pads, candy, cookies, and paper clip holders: anything that keeps salespeople and the hotels they represent visible works! The personnel that are at the information desks and the volunteers typically expect that they be given some goodie
Outside direct sales in the key: Pound the pavement of the medical center, poke around and go where ‘No man or Woman has gone before!’ It will be very common that you find yourself lost. If you exit and depart the medical center from the same door you entered, I’d be surprised!
I have found that each department within the medical center operates independently. By this I mean they typically plan their own alumni events, admissions forums, continuing education programs, intern and resident applicant schedules, catering functions, etc.
You must keep in touch with everyone. Remember it is always easier to keep an account than have to get a new!
If you have lost the account due to service issues, it is time to invite them back. Get your General Manager involved to personally guarantee service and quality of the guest experience.
Host a monthly morning breakfast focus group for top prospects. Find out which hotels they are using and why.
Host an annual Holiday Reception for the medical center information desk personnel and top prospects.
Know your market(s). Where is the business coming from? Who has it now? STEAL IT!
Be sincere and caring. I believe the customer’s perception is reality
Be enthusiastic, positive, and upbeat about your hotel and its services.
When out on sales calls, be very familiar with your property’s services and amenities, e.g., shuttle service, housekeeping amenities, etc. People will ask!
Know your competition’s rates and amenities (or lack of amenities) and know the condition of your competition’s properties.
Sugar’s essential SALES PRINCIPLES:
Build relationships with long-term in mind.
Be honest and sincere in your interactions with people and prospective clients. Be yourself!
Truly believe that what you are offering to them is a service and that YOU ARE really helping them.
Believe in your hotels’ offerings.
Be very organized.
Be proactive in obtaining business: do not wait for the phone to ring!
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