News for the Hospitality Executive
Train Your Reservations Sales Team To Offer More
Than “Website Inventory Search Support”
by Doug Kennedy, May 3, 2010
As anyone who takes reservations inquiries for your hotel can tell you, the majority of today’s first time callers have visited the website prior to calling. Many are even online while they are actually on the phone. Given the proliferation of information available online to today’s hotel guests, including the hotel website, online travel reviews, and third party online travel agencies, there is no doubt that those who do goonline prior to calling are well informed if not over-informed about what the hotel has to offer.
So one does have to wonder “Why do they still call?” One obvious reason in today’s economy, is to double-check that the rate they see online is actually the lowest available, thus doing exactly what they have been told to do by articles in the mass media.
But beyond just double-checking the rate, today’s callers want to hear more than just a laundry-list of the same features that they have seen online. When you think about it, why would a guest who has just seen photos of the room and possibly taken a virtual tour really want to hear a description such as “It is a 400 square foot room with a king size bed, iron, ironing board, coffee maker, hair dryer, and flat panel TV.” And yet when you randomly call hotels from all market segments, the descriptions sound remarkably alike; if you closed your eyes and went only by the words provided you would be picturing the exact same room every time. Similarly, if agents just laundry list the features of their hotel, it too will sound nearly identical to other hotels in the same market segment: “We are a 200 room hotel with a restaurant, a bar, a business center, a workout room, and wireless Internet.”
The good news is that there are many things that live voice agents can do for a guest that the web can never do. This is why at the conclusion of calls today’s agents should give themselves a quick self-assessment by asking: “What did I provide for the caller that they could not have found themselves online?” Here are some ideas of what a voice reservations agent can do that even the best website cannot:
- Use Investigative Questions. Go beyond basic “inventory search” questions regarding the dates, number in the party, and bedding requirements to ask more about “the story” behind the call. Examples include: “May I ask what brings you to the area?” “Will you have much free time during your business trip to enjoy the hotel and area?” “Is this a special occasion?” and “Is there something special you are looking for?” By asking these questions and learning more about “the story,” agents can use descriptions that are alluring and enticing versus just informing and notifying them of features.By encouraging your staff to use these and other tools for conversational reservations selling, you can ensure that callers who have visited your website prior to calling will be hearing exactly what they want and need to hear to make a final commitment instead of hanging up and going back online to look somewhere else.
Originally published at www.HotelWorldNetwork.com
|Also See:||The Telephone Is Your Hotel’s Storefront Window / April 2010|
|Front Desk Hotel Training Can Generate Future Business / Doug Kennedy / July 2009|