News for the Hospitality Executive
Overcoming The “All They Want To Hear Is The Rate” Mentality
|by Doug Kennedy
October 1, 2009
As an active hotel industry trainer who works with hotel and call center reservations agents representing all market segments and geographic locations, it is extremely intriguing to observe firsthand the various ways in which hotel and resort companies are responding to our recent economic conditions which for almost all markets, have been trending downward.
Yet despite all this, there are somehow superstar performers in even the most negatively effected geographic markets. In fact I have observed firsthand clients who are operating in some of the most down-markets; where the comp-set is looking at -25% RevPAR vs. 2008, they are somehow carving out a RevPAR performance that matches or exceeds 2008. Other call center clients have somehow managed to increase their call conversion rations even while overall call conversion for most locations is down because even online bookers now call to double-check the rate offer.
So what are they doing differently? It all starts with having inspired, in-touch owners and financial leaders who knew in advance that the conga line of record years of RevPAR growth couldn’t last forever. These hotels were well-poised to realistically adjust their rates according to a) demand in their local market and b) their position in the local market. Not only did they have a handle on pricing, but they also had become experts on marketing and distribution before the downturn. Therefore, they were able to offer the right price to the right person at the right “place” or channel. Not to mention they were able to turn on the “faucets” of other new hotel distribution channels as they continue to emerge.
Another common attribute is that they have also recognized that their frontline soldiers in the battle against the erosion of RevPAR is the frontline employee who answers the phones everyday, whether in the group sales department, on-site reservations, at the front desk, or at a third party call center.
Regardless of title, they are all faced with the value-driven deal-seekers on the other end of the, who do in fact sometimes lead off with the question: “Hello, what is your cheapest rate?” More often than not they don’t divulge that they’ve been online already and know the rates you are showing at several websites, in addition to your own. Worse yet, they occasionally react obnoxiously to the rate by saying “Don’t you know there’s a recession going on?”
Today’s callers are armed with insight, and thanks to TripAdvisor and the social medial, possibly more knowledge about your hotel than the representatives they are speaking with, especially if they are off-site at a regional sales office or call center.
If you’re like managers who closely monitor RevPAR these days and know enough to ask the right questions of your sales and reservations staff as to why the average rates have gone down so drastically, no doubt one response you’ve already heard is “Well, all callers want to hear about these days is the rate.”
Having heard this myself voiced honestly as a concern of the reservations and sales people I train each month, I have so far restrained myself from saying “Okay, you are right! Let’s just give them our lowest price on the phone right up front! I’m sure they have done all of their homework and know what a great property we have to offer. Let’s just e-mail it in the subject line with the price as soon as we get their dates.”
Instead I say with restraint, “That’s a very good question…” and refer back to my latest favorite saying: “If you want to get what you’ve always got, just keep doing what you’re always done.” I sometimes adapt it specifically for hotels to say, “If you want to keep getting your exact fair share of revenue as your comp-set, just keep doing the same things that you are competitors are doing.”
In RevPAR as in life, to get what we’ve never had before we must do what we’ve never done before. With all this being said, let’s acknowledge that the lodging industry environment today is as challenging as it has ever been since the early 1990’s. Your sales, reservations, and front desk teams need help. Here are some discussion points for your next meeting or in-house training:
Doug Kennedy, President
|Also See:||To Make Hotel Training Work, Make It Fun! / Doug Kennedy / July 2009|
|Front Desk Hotel Training Can Generate Future Business / Doug Kennedy / July 2009|
|Front Desk Training Is The Key To Capturing More Walk-In Business / June 2009|
|To Get More Bookings - Work With – Not Against Your Central Reservations Providers / Doug Kennedy / May 2009|
|Generate More Revenue By Making Training Everyone’s Job / Doug Kennedy / April 2009|
|Hotel Reservations Sales Training Tips - Circa 2009 / Doug Kennedy / March 2009|
|Is That the Best Rate You Have? - How to Train Your Voice Reservations Agents To Handle Today's Deal-Seekers / Doug Kennedy / February 2009|
|First Step In New Sales: Believe It Is Possible! / Doug Kennedy / January 2009|
|Good News Formula For RevPar in 2009 / Doug Kennedy / January 2009|
|Alluring Descriptions Are Key To Converting Hotel Reservation Callers / Doug Kennedy / November 2008|
|Bringing Out The Best from Our Most Negative Hotel Guests - Brings Out The Best In Ourselves / Doug Kennedy / October 2008|
|Profit Optimization Is Everyone's Job / Doug Kennedy / August 2008|
|Hotel Lessons Learned Growing Up In Kennedy Craft Shop / Doug Kennedy / July 2008|
|Personalized Hospitality Excellence Still A Deliverable! / Doug Kennedy / June 2008|
|Real Conversations vs Rigid Scripting Increases Reservations Productivity / Doug Kennedy / May 2008|
|Hotel Lessons Learned From A Five-Star School Principal / Doug Kennedy / April 2008|
|Road Warrior Shares Tips On How Hotel Guests Can Minimize Environmental Impact / Doug Kennedy / March 2008|
|Right-Sized Staffing Ensures Front Desk Sales & Service Success / Doug Kennedy / December 2007|