Research identifies issues in responsiveness, service and follow-up
LRA Worldwide, Inc., the leading provider of customer experience management consulting and research services to the global hospitality industry, recently published the results of its 2012 MICE Performance Indicator (MPI) Study conducted throughout Asia-Pacific. The study, which tested the effectiveness of the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Events) sales staff at 51 properties in 10 key markets, revealed startling deficiencies in even the most basic elements of the sales process.
A summary of the findings indicated that:
- The overall average audit score was only 28-percent compliant to industry standards;
- 11-percent of the hotels failed to respond to the event request at all;
- Of the 45 hotels that did respond, 35 (78-percent) did not attempt to personally contact the prospective client to learn more of the specific event details;
- From the enquiries that generated a proposal, nearly six in 10 were completely generic (pricing sheet and fact sheet only) with no mention of any of the specific event details;
- The sales staff neglected to follow-up on 88-percent of the proposals sent.
While all of the markets involved in the study scored poorly in aggregate on the audits, there was a statistically significant difference in performance between the market that scored best (Hong Kong – 47-percent) and worst (Bangkok – 20-percent).
"The results are certainly eye-opening, but not totally surprising given the challenges that sales managers in the region face in building and cultivating a professional sales staff," said Ben Flournoy, Vice President of Asia-Pacific for LRA. "But the increased emphasis of MICE business as a revenue source for hotels in the region and the pending influx of product in the development pipeline will punish those properties who continue to leave revenue on the table."
A recent study by American Express on meeting planners indicated that 87-percent expected to maintain or increase their business in the region. Likewise, a CBRE Asia Pacific 2012 Market View reported that an estimated 375,000 hotel rooms, most of them in the luxury and upscale market segments, will enter the Asian hotel market over the next two years. The hotels that are best equipped to handle the resulting increase in enquiry volume will be best positioned to reap the benefits of this growth.
Another trend identified in the data was in an area that should be core to the industry – hospitality. Overall, the enquiries lacked a personal touch, with 75-percent of the initial responses taking place by email, limiting the sales associate's ability to qualify the lead, understand the needs of the client and personalize the interaction and proposal. Not surprisingly, this led to poor scores across all service elements – professionalism, friendliness, helpfulness and knowledge, among others.
"The overall trend in the hotel industry, especially in the luxury and upscale markets, is towards seeking every opportunity to make a personal connection with the guest," Flournoy explained. "This mindset has not effectively spread to the sales operations at many hotels."
Methodology: The LRA Worldwide 2012 MPI Study for Asia-Pacific was conducted out of LRA's Singapore office at 51 hotels representing 21 different luxury and upscale hotel brands in the following markets: Bali, Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Saigon, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Singapore and Taipei. The LRA MICE Consultants conducting the study made enquiries into each hotel via three channels – phone, email and web portal – and evaluated the performance of the sales office and associate from the initial enquiry through the submission of the proposal, follow-up and attempt to close the business against LRA's best of breed industry standards for MICE sales. The LRA MICE Consultants were equipped with market- and hotel-appropriate event scenarios, with live "potential client" websites and email addresses to ensure the enquiry appeared legitimate.
For a copy of the full report, link HERE.
About LRA Worldwide, Inc:
LRA Worldwide is a leading research and consulting company in the emerging discipline of Customer Experience Management (CEM). We work with our clients to help them design and deliver consistently exceptional customer experiences in order to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, and company growth and profitability.
In LRA’s 25-year history, we have grown from a provider of customized quality assurance evaluation programs for the hospitality industry, to a leading CEM consulting company offering a variety of client solutions. The evolution has been driven by our clients asking us one question – "How do we get better?" In response, we have built a range of performance measurement, research, training and consulting solutions to help them do so. Today, we are a growing company operating in more than 120 countries throughout the world, helping clients such as Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Hyatt Hotels International, Anantara Hotels & Resorts and InterContinental Hotels Group deliver exceptional customer experiences. Every touch. Every time. For more information, visit us at www.LRAworldwide.com.
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