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
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.
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?
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.