Order Takers vs. Personalized Sales. How Effective is Your Hotel Selling over the Phone?

hotel reservations_phone_salesDo you know what the conversion % is of your hotel's reservations department? We seem to put a lot of focus on our website conversion statistics, but how many calls are we actually converting in to bookings. Phone sales is a very important direct sales channel for hotels, consumers are making the effort to contact you directly, and 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 we have lost focus with all the developments of the internet. I would dare to argue this is not true. 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 have done some test calls to various hotels in different cities. But I did not want to publicly emberass anyone so decided to cut our the hotel and agent name.

These guys we just heard only quote prices when I called. They did not even react to my buying signals and motivation for the trip.

So what do we want the image of our hotel to be about? What do we think will make consumers decide to book our hotel? Price? Or, a personalized sales pitch?

This one was trying, but it seemed she was mumbling. I could simply not make out what she was saying. Unfortunately they did not get me to book.

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 reservations staff to go beyond the price quoting order taking approach. We have to implement a sales process we can customize to the individual caller to make it feel more personal.

We need to sell the destination plus location and surroundings of the hotel. Address the caller by his name. Ask questions to find out why he is traveling so we can better assist him in his needs. Call center agents 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 an overview of a possible sales script you can use to increase the conversion of your reservations call center.

 Task  Comments
1. Answer within 3 rings 

2. My Hotel Reservations Greeting

 “Good [Morning, Afternoon, or Evening], My Hotel reservations. [Insert Name] speaking!”
 Note: caller ID to determine language

3. Listen to the Caller’s request!

A. Redirect call, if applicable
B. Process change request, if applicable
C. Begin reservation process
4. Search for availability on the requested nights 

Ensure to obtain the following information:
 • Arrival Date
 • Length of Stay/ Departure date
 • Number of people/ rooms

If the hotel has availability, restate the arrival and departure dates (confirming the day of the week) and proceed to 5.

If the Hotel is not available, suggest days surrounding the anticipated arrival date when the Hotel does have availability. If you cannot accommodate the Caller, place the Caller on the Hotel’s waitlist or refer the Caller to another PANTONE property. Only when the Caller asks you to recommend an alternative hotel, should you do so. Always thank the Caller for calling.

Note: Never refer the guest to another distribution channel (wholesalers, travel agency, etc.)

5. Have you stayed with us before? If “No”, goto 6.  If “Yes”, goto 9.
 6. Are you traveling on business or pleasure?

If “Business”, ask the Caller which company he/she works for. Proceed to 7; however, while you are describing the Hotel, lookup the Caller’s employer to link the reservation to the company profile.

If “Pleasure”, go to 8.
Note: This question is asked so that we can customize our sales methodology to the Caller’s needs.

 7. My Hotel Overview-Business

Explain the Hotel's concept. (mention real business USP’s)

Location (Proximity to transportation, offices, restaurant areas, business district)

Facilities (Food and Beverage, congress, fitness, parking, restaurant space, more)

Room overview (emphasize special amenities for business travelers,)

Go to 11

 8. My Hotel Overview-Leisure

 Explain the Hotel's concept. (mention real leisure USP’s)

Location (proximity to transportation and attractions)

Facilities (Food and Beverage, restaurant, fitness, parking)

Room overview (emphasize leisure related amenities)

Go to 11

 9. Obtain the guest’s name  “Great!  Welcome back!  May I have your last name so that I can find your details immediately?”
 10. Search guest history  Use the guest’s name throughout the remainder of the sales process (at least 3 times)
 11. Guestrooms- (Its Showtime) Sell, Sell, Sell… Repeat Guest
Scan guest history and confirm address and personal details.

Option 1: “I have a ‘room type’ available at a rate of [insert price].
Note: In response to rate resistance, highlight the Hotel’s limited availability and restate the fact that the rate that you quoted was the best rate available. If applicable, note that availability is limited due to citywide demand (cite the event/reason). Never use the terms “cheaper”, “inexpensive”, etc. And never apologize for a price- the price is right.

Mention that the rate is the best available rate at this moment. You can’t guarantee the same rate to be available in the future. If more bookings are made the rate might move up.

Upon further resistance, suggest alternative dates where other price offers are available.

Converting a booking and selling is easier when you give the guest psychological reasons not to wait with booking a room.

 12. Convert the call Option 1: “Would you like to confirm the reservation?”
Option 2: “May I book the reservation for you?”
 13. Process the reservation Enter data in all required fields, including the company name (even if the company does not have an account with the PANTONE hotel).

Reconfirm details (including the spelling of the guest’s last name), advise the guest of the Hotel’s cancellation and change policy, arrival and departure times, as well as early departure fees, and issue a confirmation number.

 14. Close

Ask the caller if there’s anything else you can assist them with.

Send confirmation letter (useful links for what to do in the city, public transportation, taxi services etc.)

Thank the Caller and let them know that we look forward to their return/arrival.”

 Here a schematic overview of the sales process for hotel reservations:

hotel sales reservation process

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. We need to track the success of each agent and the departments as a whole. Do you know who your best selling agent is? We need to develop some KPI on how to measure the success and impact of our reservation office.

More on this topic next time …

Cheers,

Patrick Landman - Xotels


P.S. For more ideas, visit our hotel blog

Posted in Blog, Syndicated