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We Need to Talk… About Sales & Marketing Alignment

We see and hear you. Travel & tourism organizations continue to come to Digital Edge with some of their biggest challenges: communication between group sales & marketing teams and managing their priorities. We specialize in unifying these two departments and helping both be more successful in achieving their goals. 

Here are a few strategies to close the gap. 

Causes of Misalignment Between Sales & Marketing

Sometimes, to no fault of either, it can feel like your travel & tourism organization’s sales & marketing teams are worlds apart. In the end, each team is responsible for bringing overnight guests to your destination, but too often, the marketing team is focused on the leisure side, and the sales team is focused on room nights. It usually comes down to not having enough time and energy to focus on each team’s priorities, especially if your destination organization only has a few people in the marketing department and the sales team is always on the road.

Finding Alignment Between Sales & Marketing

To get your sales & marketing teams on the same page, they don’t need to have the same priorities. They just need to make sure they understand each other’s priorities — because their ultimate goals are often in line. Have your marketing team present the current leisure marketing campaign to the sales team and discuss how sales may play off the messaging, creative and assets. Have your sales team members regularly share with the marketing department how sales are trending and where assistance is needed. When each team understands the other priorities, both can work together to build marketing messages, storytelling and sales content that directly speaks to those items. 

Marketing Priorities:Sales Priorities:The Ultimate Goals:
Brand ManagementMeeting Sales GoalsCommunity Engagement
Creative DevelopmentLead GenerationGroup Bookings
Integrated CommunicationsRelationship BuildingVisitation
Partner & Stakeholder Priorities & ImpactDestination Education Economic Impact

When the leadership of the organization makes both departments accountable to each other, it forces alignment. Does your marketing team know the key points the sales team uses to sell? Does your sales team know how your organization’s latest leisure marketing campaign can impact their sales process? Having the teams spend time listening to one another is invaluable.

If you don’t have the human power or time to meet both teams’ needs, that’s where Digital Edge comes in. True story: We went in-market to one of our client’s destinations to help unify their sales & marketing departments. After a couple of days with each team, they began calling us the “couples therapists” of their destination organization. The comparison was great, but the eureka moments from their teams that came out of that visit were greater.

Case Studies

As the Capital of Creativity, Los Angeles needed an extra edge to elevate its groups business.  LA has incredibly high levels of destination awareness & brand equity, but this doesn’t always automatically translate to bookings in the groups market. By collaborating with Digital Edge, the Southern California city has elevated its brand messaging and applied it to its B2B audience while increasing productivity for sales & marketing.

“We were looking to really make the most of our advertising dollars and for a creative partner who understood the meetings industry. We were spending too much time and energy having to educate agencies who didn’t have sufficient knowledge of the meeting planner audience and the meetings media landscape. A colleague recommended Digital Edge, and we were excited to finally meet an agency that got it right away.”

- Darren Green
Senior VP of Sales 
LA Tourism

The ATL Airport District, a relatively new CVB, needed to build distinct brand awareness among meeting planners about the destination as a whole, as well as their assets, affordability and connectivity to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Digital Edge has worked primarily with the marketing team while also maintaining a close relationship with the sales team to form a clear understanding of their goals and target meetings audience. This communication allowed us to develop a new meetings brand campaign that accomplishes the priorities and goals of both teams, including bookings ahead of pace and an increase in RFPs.  

Watch the recording of Part 1 of our Bridging the Gap webinar series — Building a Foundation for Group Sales & Marketing Team Alignment — to learn more about creating collaboration between the priorities of these two travel & tourism teams.

Cross-Functional Opportunities for Sales & Marketing

How can you foster understanding between your sales & marketing teams outside the meeting room? Have marketing team members participate in a site tour to see how the sales team positions the destination’s assets and hear what questions meeting planners ask. 

Customer Advisory Boards (CABs) are another way to ensure marketing & sales truly resonate with your target audience. We worked with Explore Branson to develop the destination organization’s first CAB in 2023. CABs are made up of current and past customers, as well as prospects, with the goal of developing an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship. Not only does this provide networking for the sales team, but it provides an opportunity for marketing to leverage feedback from actual customers! To get both the sales & marketing departments involved in your CAB, make sure both work together to determine the questions being asked to the current and past customers and what’s being discussed. In addition, the marketing team can lead a session during the CAB; this gets marketing invested and on the same page as sales. 

“The wealth of expertise and insights shared during this event was truly remarkable and above and beyond my expectations. We delved into the future of event planning, explored innovative strategies, and built bridges for lasting collaborations.”

- Samantha Gutting
Senior VP/Chief Sales Officer
Explore Branson

Familiarization Tours (FAMs) can also benefit both sales & marketing. While FAMs, made up of meeting planners, are primarily coordinated to generate strong leads for the destination — a win for the sales team — Digital Edge has created a FAM program that also benefits the marketing team. We make sure to get participants’ opinions of the destination before and after the experience, and these insights from prospects provide more important insights for the marketing team to draw upon.

Register soon for Part 2 of our Bridging the Gap webinar series in August to learn more about FAMs and CABs.

The Role of Data in Bridging the Sales & Marketing Gap

Let’s get back to basics here. Make sure both your sales and marketing teams know the difference between a marketing database and a CRM. If you want to get on the same page, you have to own CRM data as much as list management, and vice versa. Identifying and communicating what data each department finds most important and why is crucial. And while we all get caught up in the everyday busyness, remember to ensure everyone in your organization knows how to use the CRM. Is there a clear flow and accountability to entering and growing contacts? When properly entered into the CRM, this data provides a basis for strong data-driven marketing plans, as they contain all the information about your customers and how you can segment them to build account-based marketing (ABM) programs

Another area to build on alignment is reporting. Marketers love data, and the sales team is likely providing a lot of it to planners and groups regularly — in the form of group hotel reports, attendance numbers and economic impact. This information can provide vital insights into the people visiting your destination for meetings & conventions and the buying cycle for these events. And, of course, ensure that data is being entered into the CRM! 

Ultimately, this data will help you develop a strategy that yields sales results and marketing objectives.

Make sure to join Part 3 of our Bridging the Gap webinar series in November to learn more about data-driven marketing & sales.

Let us be the mediator of your group sales & marketing teams. Reach Out.

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