Travel is finally rebounding, and rebounding with a vengeance. 2022 is seeing all kinds of travelers willing to go to extra lengths to have some normalcy and enjoyment back in their lives. Or are they?
While this is very much true (take airlines collapsing and their inability to handle demand, for example), what has fundamentally changed is travelers’ behavior.
So, to help hotels evolve with the crowd, we invited Doug Kennedy, President of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. and hospitality consultant, to share his insights into Sales and Reservations’ best habits in a webinar.
Let’s dive into what Doug had to share.
1. Travelers’ behavior is not the same
People see things differently after getting used to answers on-demand and getting things done with a few clicks. It’s up to hotels to catch up before travelers head to the competition.
In today’s world, if you want to stand out, you need to use technology because travelers have no problem embracing tech if it makes life simpler. According to Doug, to cover more sales, hotels need to respond, be tenacious, and personalize.
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2. Each interaction is an opportunity
There is an awareness now about the benefits of booking direct. The more emotionally invested a person is, the more likely they are to expect a personalized experience.
Doug can’t stress this enough—inquiry calls should be seen as booking calls because there is potential to sell here. If your staff isn’t making the most of any type of call, you have to train them again.
If travelers are calling about dates and have no reservations, these calls should be tagged as inquiries. Think about it, people aren’t calling out of nowhere. If they’re calling, they have already envisioned themselves staying at your hotel.
When you start to translate the value of a phone call, agents understand that their job is not to get through the phone calls but to convert them into sales, according to Doug.
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3. Metrics can’t be overlooked any longer
Many hotels are still getting acquainted with indicators. You can’t just look at how many reservations you’re getting. Hotels also need to look at conversion, call-capture rates, email exchanges, RevPar, occupancy rates, chat exchanges, ADR per night sold, any other metric.
Ideally, Doug shares that hotels should have a way to identify what a good conversion number is. And there is no right answer. Hotels should benchmark against themselves. It all depends on your category, how competitive your marketing is, and the property size.
- Doug’s expert tip: Rate maximization is where you want Sales & Reservation teams to sell high price rooms with no discounts. The key is in tracking what types of questions you’re getting through each channel and comparing that information to your bookings.
Here is a good place to start: Calculate the average revenue sold per booking by dividing the total revenue by the total number of bookings.
4. Have you stayed with us before?
The fundamentals of in-house training should encompass who the guest is, and your product. Not all profiles are either business or leisure, Doug warns.
There is a story. There is a context. You need to train people to know the traveler, learn their habits, their preferences, and find patterns.
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Your staff also has to know your product inside out. How can they upsell spa treatments if they don’t know what your spa specializes in? Is your staff aware of what makes your brand unique? This is what empowers them with the ability to sell a story, from front-desk to sales rep.
Doug illustrates further, “Someone says, ‘Oh, what is your hotel like?’ [And staff will say,] ‘It’s 200 rooms, it has a pool and a restaurant, bar and room service.’ It could be a $ 100-a-night hotel or a $5k room hotel, and they say the same things. I was just in the Baja Peninsula, I’m almost 50 years old, and I saw my first whale breaching across [the water]. Heck, I would pay $100 more for a chance to see a whale! So, teach staff to tell the story.”
Here is what Doug had to say about questions:
Good training should empower hotel staff to react and engage with travelers, whether they have stayed with you before or not. It’s a matter of asking them questions.
- This is a returning guest: “So, great to have you with us again! Now, you might not know our master suite has just been updated with a jacuzzi, would you like to book that?”
- This is a first-timer: “We’re so glad you chose to stay with us. We have a king-size or two double beds. We also have our last room including a balcony with a view available. Do you want to book this one?”
- And the most important question of all: “While I’m checking availability, what questions can I answer for you about our location or amenities?”
This is how you open up a conversation, as opposed to acting like you’re just doing your job, or you are too busy.
5. “Ring-ring. Cha-ching!”
Doug’s training programs get hoteliers to define their average daily rate and the average length of stay. Seasoned experts, like Doug, see the potential for rates that are much higher than what is being stipulated.
This happens because hotels aren’t seeing the potential each phone call has to turn into a booking since they’re looking at only part of the metrics.
“We have a saying. Are you ready? ‘Ring. Ring. Cha-ching!’ When you hear a phone call, you should hear that translated into revenue. Reservations aren’t done the same way. Sales processes aren’t the same. So, why does your team use the same old strategies? It’s time to create new habits,” says Doug.
The digital world is dominating Sales processes. Remote selling skills are crucial. The industry is slowly recovering, and teams must see all the hidden opportunities in every “routine” inquiry through different channels, according to Doug.
6. Shake up the hotel culture, shake up the people
Many hotels are reluctant to invest in fresh talent. But if your staff doesn’t have the time to take care of your guests, you need more people.
Doug sees this through a different light. Think about it this way. If each hotel agent gets one more booking a day per person, they are likely paying their own salary within a short window, and the rest is profit.
“Translating that into guest service, more staff translates into better reviews. Hotels can’t spend all this money on ads, email marketing, then divide the share with OTAs, and yet, when people call, resist putting staff there to actually take care of the guest,” he shared.
We live at a time when poor reviews speak volumes against your brand. Follow the example from one of Marriott’s core values: Take care of your people so that they’ll take care of your guests.
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7. Stop shying away from automation
“Use tech in a way that takes care of the easy and time-consuming part of the job so that your staff takes care of your guests and focuses on what adds value to the service,” urges Paula Carreirão, this webinar’s host and one of the Global Top 20 Hospitality Executives to Watch in 2022.
Great IVR, for example, siphons out the wrong questions, giving space to travelers really invested in staying with you. So does a great AI virtual assistant. Make it to where the Sales & Reservation checklists become a habit, and we can move away from a script as an industry.
“Reservations went online first, and Sales is going in that direction. So, hotel salespeople used to have a pretty easy job in most markets. Everybody sat back and lived out of inbound leads. Whereas back in 2010, people would pick up a phone and call 3 hotels to book a group. Now, people are inquiring electronically. [They] go to a platform and inquire of a higher number of hotels. A few clicks and BOOM! Ten people get a lead. So, we need to use tech to break through in sales,” said Doug.
Don’t miss anything
These are the highlights of our chat with Doug,and you can watch the full Hotel Cast TV episode to get all the details!
Now that you’ve learned the top 7 aspects of Sales & Reservations to make an informed decision about your business, it’s time to elevate your Sales & Reservations performance to get more bookings with Asksuite’s Omnichannel Service Platform!