Carl (not his real name), is the Director of Sales and Marketing (DOSM) for a 4-star international business hotel in the suburbs of Shanghai. Although a 4-star brand, the hotel’s facilities are good enough to match any 5-star hotel anywhere in the world.
However, the location of the hotel actually makes it very difficult for Carl and his team to sell its 400 rooms. The key challenges that Carl and his team face include:
• Situated in an industrial area where there are literally no international or big companies willing to pay the price of a 4-star hotel, so that guests can stay in better comfort and get better service;
• Surrounded by a litter of 3-star and budget hotels, where cost-conscious visitors to the area find it more attractive to choose the cheaper options;
• Devoid of external parks and spaces that can be used for outdoor teambuilding programmes, which otherwise will make the suburb location of the hotel ideal of teambuilding and company retreats.
Undaunted, Carl led his team to target at the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibitions) market. In particular, he targeted at companies who would want to bring their staff a from all over China and other parts of the world off-site to have a series of meetings, training or strategic planning.
So far, Carl’s strategy has worked enough to keep the hotel afloat. Apparently, the meeting facilities of the hotel is in such high demand, Carl can actually “force” his customers to buy his hotel rooms, rather than staying in a cheaper (and poorer quality) place across the street.
So putting ourselves in Carl’s shoes, what else could Carl do to build on this initial success?
Well, if we were to frame Carl’s target customers as “people who don’t mind staying in a faraway hotel, BUT would like to stay in a hotel with good facilities”, then perhaps we can target at the following groups:
• Tour groups. During the 2010 Shanghai World Expo where there’s a shortage of hotel rooms, some tour groups actually stayed outside of Shanghai, and then hopped on the tour bus to get to the Expo.
• Cabin crew. They’ve got the usual tour buses to pick them up as well.
Companies doing outdoor teambuilding. Didn’t we say that there are no outdoor teambuilding spaces around the hotel? Well, the nearest teambuilding facility Top 10 Industry Types is only about 20-30 minutes’ drive away, and companies who want to have outdoor teambuilding AND stay in a better hotel can charter a bus.
• Industrial companies seeking to hold trade shows and exhibitions. Exhibition centres are expensive, compared to usage of hotel ballrooms. Since the hotel is in the middle of an industrial area, why not?
• Event management companies. Carl does not need to go directly to customers all the time. He can also approach the event organisers who could bring the people
The other way of thinking could be “how can we shrink the distance between the hotel Types Of Service Sector and places to shop, dine and wine?” In this way, we have the following ideas:
• Charter buses for guests to go to town;
• Get a shopping mall to charter a bus, so they can bring hundreds of hotel guests to shop at their malls. In this way, the malls and not the hotel bears the cost of the bus;
• Get a shopping mall to provide regular shuttle buses, especially during peak seasons
These are just some of the ideas that we can generate to help Carl get more sales despite his insurmountable challenges. Some will work, while others won’t, but if you don’t generate enough of all kinds of ideas, you probably won’t find the one that will deliver the best results for you.

By master