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The term Sales Development is not only increasing and promoting sales but at the same time it manages to raise its profits also. For different business, it is vital to develop and promote sales so as to ensure more profits and revenues (Zijlstra and Mobach, 2011). Present report is focussed on studying sales development of Sheraton hotels and resorts that is a part of Starwood hotels and resorts, one among world’s third largest and oldest hotel groups. Its headquarters is situated in U.S.A. This report is going to study product of Sheraton that is SPG program introduced and will enable to find out its promotional techniques. Also it includes an understanding of marketing mix of this product and several external sales development techniques and internal sales promotions. The final part of this report manages to understand the critical role of staff that is responsible in maximising sales (John, Adiele and Nkoro, 2013).
Sheraton hotels, a group of Starwood’s provides numerous and efficient services to its customers. Apart from better accommodation facility, rooms, service and food facility, it provides more schemes and plans for its customers. One such product of Sheraton is being discussed in this report. The SPG (Starwood Preferred Guests) program is a product/ service that are introduced by this hotel group for its loyal customers. This program is based on getting membership in it in countries that legally permit it (Stevens, 2011). The members are provided numerous benefits out of this program which includes providing them two starpoints that involve setting special rates and charges for members. There are specially booked preferred guests room for these members such that in need they can stay at these hotels whenever they want, if they have a membership in this program.
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The product mix of a product in hotel industry is core product and formal product. Product portfolio defined for SPG program of Sheraton includes:
The core product includes accommodation that is this product must provide basically better accommodation and formal product includes providing additional features (Rao, 2004). SPG program is based on primarily providing a better facility to its customers to stay wherever in any of its chain in world. Other additional features involve better hygiene that they are given proper food and discounts on membership. Room service is at best level given as they are the preferred guests of hotel. Price that is set under this product or program is most affordable and desirable that helps to improve the interest of its customers in its program as well as managing to raise its profits. Extra services like laundry etc are given as an advantage of being a part of this program (Lo, Stalcup and Lee, 2010).
These elements of product mix contribute a lot to sales and profit as it helps in creating a strong and loyal customer base. Various customers that are a part of this Sheraton group can enjoy certain benefits by achieving a number of stays in its hotels and thus becoming eligible for this program. This program has made the customers to opt this hotel always, to stay when they are out of their places and certain benefits and discounts are being offered that has made Sheraton to develop a large network of potential and loyal customers that has increased its revenues (Moriarty and et. al., 2009).
Segmentation in sales, is related to the procedure of develop strategies of marketing that satisfy customers of different needs, interest, budgets etc. it involves defining a segment of those potential customers for firm that are most capable of purchasing a product. Here Sheraton has a product named SPG program, for which it has segmented all its premium customers and those who frequently stay in its hotels (Nicholson and Meek, 2013). It is available to those guests that have reached a certain level of day and night stays in Sheraton group of hotels. It provides certain options to its customers, including Gold, Platinum memberships. Also it manages to provide a different aspect of lifetime membership when customers have achieved a level of milestone set under this program. After this they are provided Gold and Platinum lifetime membership. Through this program they have efficiently achieved sales and profits as number of their loyal customers base has increased. Also their customers have always taken Sheraton as a choice to stay there so as to achieve the membership of this program that has helped company to earn larger profits through more and more customers (Weinberg, 2012).
There are several factors that affect buyer’s behaviour in selecting a product. With reference and relevance to product offered by Sheraton, SPG program, the factors are:
Cultural factors: Culture is a very important factor that determines a person’s wants and beliefs. The features that would affect people’s choice towards a hotel could be type of food and accommodation facility and service that they expect out of their own beliefs. Sheraton may have customers from different countries and cultural backgrounds (Kim and Kim, 2005).
Social factors: Besides these, there are factors like their social groups, family, roles and status. As this program of Sheraton is focussed on people of specific premium group and status that can afford to accommodate in Sheraton in frequent intervals.
Personal factors: These include people’s occupation, economic conditions, lifestyle, personality etc. This program of Sheraton group is based on people with better economic status and lifestyle that involve high standard of living and social class etc.
Psychological factors: These factors are related with motivation, perception and personal beliefs that customers possess. The customers’ may have certain needs and wants related to a particular product. Here with this program, customers always expect an easy availability of accommodation in such a large hotel chain and also expect to get better service and if they get discounts that add to extra benefits that they could avail (Heung, Zhang and Jiang, 2008).
These factors were being considered while deciding this product or program that helped Sheraton to manage its segmentation that has ultimately led to achieve greater revenues and brand image for its prospect customers.
There are several advertising techniques that can be used by Sheraton to promote its product, SPG program to its customers. These techniques are designed such that they make it easy and possible to manage the target customers and reach them all. These trends of advertising include:
Advertising using different media and Internet marketing: The Hotels can link to its customers and also develop a new customer base with help of internet marketing that also involves online booking and support (Seley and Holloway, 2008). Other media that can be used to advertise are newspapers, tourism and travel journals, magazines and internet also.
Hotel’s Website design: Hotel can also develop a better approach to advertise its plan and scheme by developing its own official website that offers all information and features of this product. It can also convince new customers to join the group so as to earn a membership and avail benefits (Butler, 2003).
Online public relations: Different organizations are involved in managing public relations to advertise their products. Being a large hotel chain situated in different countries and having customers worldwide, Sheraton can also develop online Public relations, by serving its permanent customers with support and information and solve their queries online itself.
Sales promotions: For sales promotion, Sheraton can introduce various offers in SPG program, like one that it recently introduced offer of earning double and triple starpoints while staying in the hotels between May to July this year (Ollila, 2014).
Now-a-days the market has become a consumer– oriented and dominated place that requires every organization to focus on their needs and wants and try to fulfil their expectations. Sheraton also needs to work in same direction. Smarter merchandizing can be used to attract more customers to their group. They need to develop an approach that is based on reaching customer’s expectation level (Sim, Mak, and Jones, 2006). They need to use techniques like effective promotions for their program that directly target their potential customers and thus help in increasing customer’s volume. Sheraton can also approach on satisfying and motivating its employees that is expected that they will in turn bring and care for the customers and thereby increase the sales and profits.
Then further Sheraton needs to develop an efficient marketing mix that is proper availability of this scheme in all parts of the world wherever customer travels and putting forth affordable prices that customers show an interest towards these products. As mentioned above there is a need to understand its potential customers’ buying behaviour that helps in determining their expected demands and expectations in future (Kandampully and Suhartanto, 2000). Sheraton also uses techniques like introducing entertainment and recreational facilities that can contribute in building up customer’s interests in it.
There are certain conditions and concepts related to design that contribute to spending behaviour of customers. With respect to Sheraton, these considerations can be:
Physical settings: The physical settings involve layout, interiors design, architecture, lightings, cleanliness etc. that is very important in determining customer’s willingness to spend (Ohai, 2008).
Ambience: It is the atmosphere or environment provided to customer in hotel. It may include level and quality of service offered that meets expectations of customers.
Spatial layout and functionality: This considers managing ways that involve setting of equipments and furnishing etc. and ability of these items to foster performance and help setting better impression on customers (Randall, 2009).
Graphics and theatrical effects: These are special effects that are meant for attracting the customers’ interests. These are means of communication that help in creating awareness of hotel and its service and products on customers.
Employees: Employees are the most important factors that can determine how to influence customers by managing better relationship and gaining knowledge of their expectations that can help to develop design and layout of Sheraton in accordance to its loyal customer’s demands and hopes (Mentzer and Moon, 2005).
A number of internal merchandizing material scan be used in hotels to promote and develop customers towards them. Some that can be suggested to Sheraton hotels can be directories for supporting guests, electronic signboards, and lobby posters. There are certain signs and logos of hotel that a customer comes across all his way towards the hotel. These help in creating an image in mind of customers and a brand logo that helps him identify brand whenever he moves out (Yelkur and DaCosta, 2001). The SPG program is applicable for all hotels under Starwood’s group that helps each customer of this group to identify the same. Hotel areas where guests usually move inside hotel must exclusively consist of these signs and logos. These programs are helpful to create awareness in local as well as tourist towards the hotels schemes and offers. It also engages itself in celebrations and events that link its customer’s beliefs and help in generating more interest towards hotel. By promoting attractive food offers and facilities that catches interests of customers can also be one way. These may include displaying the menu of special dinner, changing wall posters and electronic marquees according to different events etc. can be another tactic used for internal merchandizing (Herstein, Mitki and Jaffe, 2007). These materials helped customers in creating a brand image of Sheraton in their minds and understanding level of service and support that it manage to provide them through their special SPG program.
Sheraton uses excellent promotional techniques in different scenarios. Loyalty cards are the best method of promotions that are used now-a- days in almost all luxurious hotels to promote and attract all potential customers. Sheraton as mentioned above uses its program SPG for its own promotion. This program is much specialised form of loyalty cards that provides premium services to its permanent customers (Presbury, Fitzgerald and Chapman, 2005). This service enables customers to enjoy a discount of almost 35% on room rates and always get of benefit of room availability for them. These allow special offers and events that invite its worldwide customers to join them and availing benefits. Some promotional activities involve special food items on weekends or events that engage the customer interest. Another involves facilities, discounts and offers on festivals like Christmas, New Year and peak seasons. These activities help in managing better relationship with the prospect customers and thus help in building up a strong customer base. Other benefits that it provides to its customer with the aim of promotion is cultural and anniversary celebrations. Sports and other activities, spa, golf and skiing etc. that is very effective (Forsyth, 2004).
Personal selling skills play an important role in promoting and selling hospitality products and services. These require personnel to possess skills like better communication, assertiveness and negotiation skills that would help a person to effectively convince people in buying a service or product (Fields, 2014). The selling may be face- to- face that includes telling the present customer about SPG program and make them to stay in hotel and achieve levels that make them eligible for membership of that program. This can also include telephone selling which would better involve calling all permanent and loyal customers and making them aware of the scheme that is SPG product. The personal selling must also be based on customer orientation that is completely focussed on its loyal customer’s expectations.
These techniques can prove effective and better when personnel involved in promotion is well aware of knowledge and features of program by self (Pearson, 2014). For enhancing personal selling, there is a requirement to create awareness about product that can be done through different ways by advertising or personal contacts. Person must also be knowledgeable about various benefits that product offers to customers, must know to resolve objections and any queries and must also let customers know about limits and necessary conditions of particular service.
To improvise the sales revenue, Sheraton can also focus on a better operational design that can be important for the overall program (Palani and Sohrabi, 2013). The operational designs that can be included in managing hotel’s operations are:
Attracting more and more customers: There are several techniques used by Sheraton to improve its sales. It can develop the best dining experience for its guests that make them to promote hotel by their own references and groups. This also helps in satisfying them to a level of their expectations. Efforts could be enforced in developing better menus and quality of food that are basis of attracting people (Heung, Zhang and Jiang, 2008).
Developing faith among customers: The loyal customers are assets of any organization and so the hotels need to develop better programs and design their operations such that all the customers trust the hotel. This has been done by designing the concept of loyalty cards that are important for making these people engaged with customers. Also by creating exciting offers of food and menus on weekends or special days that would be a part of hotel’s strategy to improve sales. It may decide to set food chart and special menu program on weekends that is sure to attract customers at weekends (Lo, Stalcup and Lee, 2010).
Better time management in services: A high quality and extra services offered to customers is a better approach. Quality service is not complete until it involves the time element in it. The service, support and food delivery all required to be done on time so that customers are satisfied and so revert back again and again and contribute in revenues.
The training programme must be treated as an investment. It is therefore necessary to develop a better sales training programme (Nicholson and Meek, 2013). This must be based on certain principles that are explained as follows:
Acquisition of knowledge: The training program must not mere teaching skills but also include acquiring knowledge of the subject.
Changing beliefs: The salesperson must learn that their sales practise must be such that they are successful in changing the perception of people.
Imparting better interpersonal skills: These skills involve communication skills and confidence that is required for better approach in selling products and services (Kim and Kim, 2005).
Analytical and problem solving skills: The Salesperson must also possess skills of problem solving that helps them to calculate the costs and benefits of a product and must be a principle of training program.
Motivation or desire of learning: The first attitude of every person that is being imparted the training must be that they must have a motive and desire of learning.
Practical implications: The sales training must also involve practical approach in their training programme that is helpful in managing better interest and experience.
Productivity: It must also aim at improving productivity of every sales personnel by training programme (Yelkur and DaCosta, 2001).
Applicable: The final and the most important part of the training programme must include the fact that the skills and training aspects learned in it must be applicable in the real life situations.
Sales development is very important for a firm for not only improve production but to increase revenues and customer base. The undertaken report is based on studying sales promotion techniques used by Sheraton to promote their SPG programme (Randall, 2009). Report includes numerous backgrounds that serve as basis to understand the sales development activities. These are advertising techniques, external and internal merchandizing and promotion tools including personal selling that in the end help in developing principles for a sales training programme.
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