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Have You Listened To What Your Hotel Team Is Saying To Real Callers?


By Doug Kennedy
July 19, 2012

In the busy world that hotel marketing and revenue managers live in these days, there are many distribution channels calling out for our attention.   It’s a constant effort to stay on top of the latest trends and new opportunities especially regarding electronic channel management.  Yet one often forgotten distribution channel is for many hotels still the one that hand-delivers the best sales inquiry opportunities every day.   No, it’s not the latest OTA funded by an IPO; nor is it really a new channel at all.  We are of course talking about the good old fashioned hotel voice channel.  My regular readers know well that I have often said “The Telephone Is Your Hotel’s Storefront Window,” which is as true today as ever.   

The good news for all hoteliers is that it’s easier than ever to manage this important, first-impression making channel.  

Step One:  Find A Way To Access Recordings Of Inbound Calls. 

Due to emerging technologies, hotels and call centers of all sizes and market segments can take advantage of affordable tools for listening-in to what real-world callers hear daily.

Mega call centers, such as those with upwards of 50+ agents, have had this technology in place for over a decade now, with equipment based call monitoring and tracking solutions.   These solutions usually provide the most detailed tracking and sorting of calls, such as on a “by agent” basis.  In recent years the cost of these systems has come down, but price can still sometimes be a barrier for mid-size and smaller call centers. 

Now in recent years new emerging technologies have provided a way for hotels and resorts of all sizes and market segments to be able to record inquiry calls.  One example is the growing number of options for purchasing a unique 800 number from a pay-per-click advertising provider, most of which provide the option of recording the inbound calls.  This option at least provides some access to real-world inquiries, however it can become cost prohibitive at US $1 per call or more.    

More recently, there are now options for using inbound 800 providers that provide call tracking and recording features as part of their service.  Since hotels are already incurring a per-minute cost on their inbound 800 lines, the additional cost can be nominal.  Although the costs vary greatly, a quick Google search will turn up companies that both track and record all inbound 800 calls for under US $.10 per minute.  Besides recording all calls, some of these systems also provide data on the geographic origin of the calls, the phone numbers of the caller (for follow-up purposes if needed),  useful call traffic data such as time of day, day of week, lost calls, etc…  The call tracking data and recordings can be accessed online.

Step Two:  Make The Time To Listen To Calls Regularly

These call monitoring tools won’t change performance alone.  Despite how busy it gets as a hotel marketing or distribution manager, it is critical to schedule-in time on a regular basis to listen to a random mix of calls.  There is much marketing intelligence to be gained from listening to how real-world callers are reacting to pricing, promotions, or operational procedures as they are being explained.

Step Three:  Score and Assess Guest Services and Sales Calls On A Regular Basis

Once you have access to real world call recordings, you can assign an in-house manager or supervisor to score both guest services and sales calls.  Create a scoring criteria that ensures consistency, yet still allows for a conversational sales style and is not so rigid that it creates scripted, transactional sales and service exchanges. 

Make sure that all sales and service staff receive regular monitoring assessment, including the “superstars.”  Too many managers spend most of their time monitoring and coaching the lowest performers; the reality is that associates of all levels can benefit from the feedback.

Aside from just reviewing the written report, make sure associates have the opportunity to listen to their call recordings to that they can hear how they really sound on the phone. 

Step Four:  Use An Unbiased Third Party To Calibrate In-House Results

It is important to avoid one potential pitfall of in-house call monitoring assessment, which is that those doing the monitoring can often become biased due to their personal relationship with the person being monitored.  As a result a poor call performance might be overlooked because “She was having a bad day that day; she usually does better” or “That’s just how he sounds on the phone.”    There our outside companies that will score and assess a sampling of your in-house calls to ensure that the scores are calibrated with the in-house results.

By implementing an ongoing call monitoring assessment process at your hotel, resort, or call center, you will be assuring that your sales prospects and guests receive an excellence call experience every time they pass by the “storefront window” of your hotel.


 
Doug Kennedy is President of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. a leading provider of customized training programs and telephone mystery shopping services for the lodging and hospitality industry.  Doug continues to be a fixture on the industry’s conference circuit for hotel companies, brands and associations, as he been for over two decades.  Visit KTN at: www.kennedytrainingnetwork.com   Read his travel blog at ontheroad.kennedytrainingnetwork
or email him directly:  doug@kennedytrainingnetwork.com 
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Contact: 

Doug Kennedy
President
Kennedy Training Network, Inc.
1926 Hollywood Boulevard, Suite 203
Hollywood, FL  33020
Office: 954.981.7689
Mobile: 954.558.4777
doug@kennedytrainingnetwork.com
www.KennedyTrainingNetwork.com

 

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Also See: How To Convince Callers Who Are Looking Online To Book Directly / Doug Kennedy / June 2012

Train Your Hotel Team To Use The Language Of Hospitality: Part Two / Doug Kennedy / May 2012

Train Your Hotel Team To Use The Language Of Hospitality: Part One / Doug Kennedy / March 2012

What Is The Difference Between Hospitality Excellence and Mediocrity? / Doug Kennedy / January 2012

Front Desk Upsell Training Can Increase RevPAR / Doug Kennedy / October 2011

Hotel Training Budget Reflects Belief Systems / Doug Kennedy / September 2011

Hotel Voice Reservations: The Forgotten Channel / Doug Kennedy / August 2011

It's Time For Today's Technology-Focused Hotel Salespeople To "Go Old School" / Doug Kennedy / July 2011

Don’t Let A Culture Of Profitable Mediocrity Infiltrate Your Hotel / Doug Kennedy / June 2011

Hospitality Examples Observed From TSA Airline Security Staff / Doug Kennedy / May 2011

The Hotel Front Desk Is a Distribution Channel / Doug Kennedy / April 2011

Train Your Sales Agents To Execute Your Hotel’s Rate Strategies / Doug Kennedy / March 2011

Savvy Hoteliers Still Make Voice Channels A Priority / Doug Kennedy / February 2011

True Hotel Sales Superstars Love “Clueless” Callers! / Doug Kennedy / January 2011

What If A Hotel Brand Could Ask The Same Question Southwest Airlines Asks In Their New Ad? / Doug Kennedy / December 2010

Hoteliers Should Utilize New Tools For Measuring Hospitality and Guest Service Efficiency / Doug Kennedy / November 2010

Training Your Team To Master “Channel Conversion” Techniques / Doug Kennedy / November 2010

Upselling Strategies For Your Front Desk and Reservation Teams / Doug Kennedy / September 2010

Training Is Key To Turning “Desk Clerks” Into Front Desk Salespersons / March 2007

It’s Time To Give Hotel Guests What They REALLY Need and Want Daily! Key Basics Some Hotels Still Fall Short On / Doug Kennedy / September 2006
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