The business of hospitality invariably comes down to questions. The kind that drive to deep and actionable ideas to be used in creating an unforgettable experience — a better process, a shared value, a strengthened connection between venue, planner, and customer. Think about it: Without a persistent commitment to ask, discover, and build, great things would never be created — or problems solved.
Questions and Answers
It's that kind of thinking that drives the group event team at Fairmont San Jose. In fact, that perspective is a must. After all, the next great tech startup could very well be a mere 5-iron from the hotel lobby, or even take flight in one of the Fairmont's many conference rooms. As a result, the Fairmont team's spirit of relentless improvement is perfectly embodied in the way their group event business keeps pace with new opportunities. The challenge is to constantly search for and discover new trends that can be used to expand their group business.
Led by Director of Sales and Marketing Marshall Jones, the team wanted to get a better understanding of how they could optimize the business. "We work hard to generate group business," Jones says. "As a team, we are always looking to create real value." By looking at their data from a different perspective, they were able to discover an opportunity to expand their business and create value.
Leading With Analysis
Through data analysis, the team found a pattern: 40% of the business was coming to the hotel during the same window, but they had no idea when that window would be — or that the vast majority was from groups smaller than 75 rooms. It was a major factor in making business unpredictable, so the team began looking for patterns and trends. First, they discovered how much of the demand came from their own region. Jones, along with the sales and marketing team, was able to fundamentally change the group business in three ways:
- Optimization. Assess the local group opportunity, improving response time and redeploying sales.
- Communication. Standardize operations, measure effectiveness, and learn what core customers really want.
- Growth. Discover new areas of opportunity and execute around a sound, diversified game plan.
Optimizing the Fairmont San Jose Experience With Business Analytics
The team used analytics to assess, adjust, and increase the hotel's profitability. Jones saw the fragmented nature of the current business and mapped a plan. They learned that 60% of group business came from their own backyard — and 40% from the same 27 companies. As a result of the findings, the Fairmont added videoconferencing capabilities, upgraded hotel internet bandwidth, and created a business environment that served as an extension of its clients' campuses. In addition, the team created packages based on specific, predictive, and value-added benefits. They connected trends and opportunities from additional data sets and redeployed resources based on business categories. This helped create knowledgeable staff members who in turn were able to develop stronger relationships. The bottom line? It's all about using data to better understand the client business — and find smart solutions to meet those unique needs.
Communication as the Connector to Growth and New Opportunities
The approach gave the Fairmont San Jose a platform that helped to streamline communication. “We needed to be able to communicate the value of our approach to all aspects of the business, from ownership to the corporate office, asset manager, regional team, and the operational team," Jones says. The team's ability to analyze, see trends,v and adjust has led to more accurate forecasting and faster response times. What's more, it helped identify opportunities to better align hotel offerings to core clients and improve the performance of the sales team. For example, Jones was able to help a salesperson reverse lagging response times by showing the relevance of that metric. The result? That person's response time was cut in half. Overall, the team's use of analytics resulted in significant business gains, including a 46% drop in RFP response time, a 138% increase in awarded RFPs, and a 185% increase in awarded room nights (2016-18).
The Fairmont San Jose team took a methodical approach to the study of analytics, mapped the right course, and got answers to their business questions. That helped them grow into their market and drive significant growth in key segments.