Hotel Sales Super Star




Don't let SMERFE turn you into a SMURF!

A recent discussion on the HotelSalesSuperStar LinkedIn group about the make-up of the SMERFE market (thanks Tiffany!) got me thinking more about SMERFE versus SMERF and all the different definitions…

For those of you outside North America, SMERFE is an acronym used to describe group business that does not fall into the traditional market segments of Corporate, Association, Government or Tour & Travel (no, not the little blue men).  The most common definition I have seen is as follows:

·         S – Sports

·         M – Military

·         E – Education

·         R – Religious

·         F – Fraternal

·         E – Ethnic

Some hotels will switch out the S for Social, other will replace one of the E’s for Entertainment – that’s ok, its up to each hotel to define their own market segments.  Essentially the meaning behind SMERFE is the same – what Sports, Military, Education, Religious etc all have in common is that they are groups where it is highly likely that the attendees are paying for themselves and are attending outside of their regular work hours.  In other words, being part of this group is not their job.  This is a big generalization, but SMERFE groups are usually the most rate sensitive which is why we look to often use groups as ‘fillers’ during time periods where we would otherwise be slow.  This often works out well as the dates and times that a SMERFE group is looking for is often the opposite of when your Corporate groups are looking for.

The point that I am getting to, is to not lose sight of the fact that what truly defines SMERFE is far more than just an acronym.  If your hotel merely uses an acronym to define what SMERFE is then you are bound to have some conflict at some point in the future.
Think not?  Consider this. 

Military is the M in SMERFE, but isn’t the Military part of the Government, so shouldn’t that go to the Government market instead?  What about a Teachers Association – that’s Education so is it SMERFE or is it the Association market?  What about a training company – is that Education or Corporate?  What about a State College – they are Education, but if they are owned by the State aren’t they Government?  If S stands for Social does a Corporate Holiday Party count as SMERFE?  If S stands for Sports then a visiting school’s football team counts, but what about a professional football team – aren’t they a business, therefore Corporate?
There is no faster way of ruining the morale of a Sales team than by having unnecessary conflict over which Sales Manager the lead goes to.  Understandably so, we are talking about people’s numbers, therefore goals, therefore potential bonuses here.  We have all seen a Sales Manager who is struggling to make their numbers (for whatever reason) who is then grasping at straws trying to claim every incoming lead as their own.

For this very reason it is so important that hotel sales teams clearly define SMERFE -and all market segments for that matter.  Don’t assume that everyone on your team knows what your hotel’s definition is, as every hotel’s definition varies ever so slightly.  Directors of Sales – don’t leave yourself open to accusations of preferential treatment by always being the adjudicator where there is questions over who the lead goes to.  

My recommendation – take the time to sit down with your Sales team and put together a document that clearly details exactly what type of accounts fall under each market segment.  In an economy like this it is especially important and will only help in harmonizing your sales department.

As Papa Smurf said: ‘Enough fighting! Lets all have a Smurfy day!

It may be Friday afternoon – but before you head home…

I know everyone is just itching for the weekend and Sales people are just about headed for the door, but consider this before you shut down your computer and head to happy hour.

How many of your top clients have you spoken with this week?

The week may be almost over, but surely there is time left to make 2 or 3 more calls.  Go ahead, just pick up the phone and call 3 of your top clients that you didn’t get a chance to speak with this week.  If you didn’t speak to them, there is a good chance that one of your competitors did, so don’t let them start poaching that top producer from you.

Pick up the phone – end the week on a high note (and then head to happy hour)!!!