Do you know the conversion percentage of your hotel's reservations department?
The hotel industry seems to put a lot of focus on its online conversions, but how many queries to call centers are we actually then converting into bookings.
Phone sales are a very important direct sales channel for hotels, with consumers making the effort to contact you directly, so should be easy to convert. Why is it though that many hotels have such a poor sales process?
Is hotel management not on the ball?
It seems perhaps that we have lost focus, concentrating instead on developments with the web.
In fact, reservations departments have for many years already been regarded as an operational department rather than a commercial one.
Backing up my rant of this apparent disinterest to generate direct sales, we carried out some test calls to various hotels in different cities.
[NB: I did not want to publicly embarass anyone, so decided to remove the hotel and agent name.
Test call #1 [opens in new window]
These guys only quote prices when I called. They did not even react to my buying signals and motivation for the trip.
Test call #2 [opens in new window]
This one was trying, but the operator was mumbling. I could simply not make out what she was saying. Unfortunately they did not get me to book.
Test call #3 [opens in new window]
And here a really shameful situation: an agent referring me back to the website...
In this particular case the hotel’s management was under the impression the hotel was performing on target as the correct average rate per person was achieved.
Unfortunately the average occupancy per person per room was actually 20% lower than normal, which made it impossible to reach total revenue target, because the average room rate was totally off.
Hotels have to train their reservation staff to go beyond the price quoting approach. They have to implement a sales process which can then be customized to the individual caller to make it feel more personal.
We need to sell the destination as well as the location and the hotel's surroundings.
Even the simple things matter:
- Address the caller by his or her name.
- Ask questions to find out why they are traveling so the hotel can better assist their needs.
Call center agents also have to be aware of what is going on in town and be able to give some recommendations on restaurants, public transport and activities.
Below is an overview of a possible sales script you can use to increase the conversion of your reservations call center:
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Here is a schematic overview of the sales process for hotel reservations:
This is not something that it is implemented overnight. It requires many hours of training, creative brain storming and constant motivation to keep it up.
We highly recommend implementing a mystery calling program, with test calls, scoring cards, following up coaching, and all tied into an incentive program.
Importantly, we should not to forget to measure the financial results. Hotels need to track the success of each agent and the department as a whole.
NB: For more ideas, visit our hotel blog.
NB2:Image via Shutterstock.