DIRECT SALES: The Impact of Technology and the Future of Direct Sales
By Brenda Fields Founder, Fields & Company | January 08, 2012
In all of the excitement of the ever-evolving social media platforms and tools, are owners and operators forgetting a critical source of business for their properties? Direct sales, in many cases, has become just another source of social media tactics and sales managers have virtually disappeared from the public.
Social media metrics are based on soft indicators such as the number of impressions or the number of "likes". Whereas, direct sales metrics are based on revenues, rates, and/or roomnights and are probably much more meaningful to a business. Therefore, as business owners, can we be complacent with the loss of a discipline that is the most controllable and quantifiable part of a marketing plan? When structured and implemented effectively, direct sales can achieve a significant ROI, even when the cost can account for 50% of the entire marketing budget. The ROI of social media is difficult to calculate accurately depending on the platform.
This article will address a few key initiatives to implement in order to achieve top performance in direct sales and to assist owners and managers in evaluating the best use of technology in the marketing plan.
Be Proactive. Make a Plan
With social media, it's tempting to jump on every new platform, without having a plan or any expectation of results. More often than not, a lot of time and energy is spent with little results. But a well-founded plan is the key to success, regardless of market conditions, as it is the foundation from which all actions stem. The position determines which type(s) of business the property caters. It is important to understand which segments, or demographics respond to which marketing platforms. Twitter followers, as an example, may not be the market for your particular property so it is important to fully understand the dynamics for each platform and apply them accordingly.
With the positioning in place, it is important to determine the most realistic mix of business on any given day, for a year out, as the patterns and demand for business change daily based on season, day of the week, holidays, and local factors. That level of detail will provide the basis of the marketing plan and it will provide the basis for the direct sales goals and the social media platforms and tactics, to ensure the most cost effective initiatives.
Taking the time to quantify the business on a daily basis, allows for well-founded goals for the sales team and for the individual sales manager. Without that structure, any new social media platform can come along to take everyone off-course and will not produce the results that direct sales can provide.