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True Hotel Sales Superstars Love “Clueless” Callers!

By Doug Kennedy
January 26, 2011

Given the prolific amount of information available to prospective guests and hotel meeting/function planners, it seems logical that today’s callers to hotel reservations, front desk, and the sales department should be very well informed before they dial our number.

Indeed, many  if not most of today’s sales inquiries are from those who are largely pre-sold prior to phoning.   Well established hotels and resorts have the added benefit that many if not most of their callers are repeat guests who have visited before and who already know what they want before dialing. 

Unfortunately, dealing with all of these repeat guests and pre-informed sales prospects can make some hotel salespeople become complacent.  It’s easy to fall into a habit of polite order-taking when the majority of callers already know what they want.   Having spent my career as a hotel sales trainer I have seen this scenario play out many times over the years, where the salespeople fall victim to “profitable mediocrity” by becoming habitual order-takers who seem to expect that guests and meeting planners are out there just waiting to call in their orders.    

It’s easy to imagine how this happens, when maybe 7 out of 10 callers know what they want before they call.  When you place a test call to these hotels and act like you know what you want, they are very polite and helpful.  Yet when you ask these same salespeople questions about the location, area, or the hotel itself, they provide short, curt responses and more often than not suggest that you go online to the hotel’s website for more information.

Having listened to hours and hours of recorded calls from real callers captured through various monitoring systems used by our KTN training clients, I have to admit that there are some seemingly “clueless” callers these days.  For example, callers to large, city-center hotels that request a ground floor room.  Or callers to condo-resorts that feature individually owned and decorated properties who ask “So it’s not like a hotel?”  Or callers to Orlando hotels booking near Disney, Universal, or Seaworld that request an “ocean” view, or who book in New York and request a view of the Statue of Liberty.  Or those who meant to dial the phone number of a competitor but who pulled your hotel’s number instead.  Indeed, a certain number of callers do seem confused. 

Yet the true sales superstars I’ve meet always seem to love these types of callers.  They recognize that while it is important to convert those easy, order-taking calls into sales, when we are able to secure  business from a “clueless” caller we have really done something positive for the hotel’s profitability.  Repeat guests and others who are pre-sold are going to stay with us anyway.  Yet when we help those who are uncertain, those who have questions, and those who need more convincing to pick our hotel off their list, we can know we have truly had a positive impact.  Not to mention that today’s “clueless” caller will then become a future repeat guest, who will them be pre-sold the next time. 

Here are some training tips to help get your sales team excited about “clueless” callers.

  • Discuss call conversion with the sales team.   Calculate the potential additional revenue each salesperson could capture just one more sale per week from a confused sales prospect.
  • Have your salespeople experience researching and planning a business or leisure travel experience, meeting, or function in an unfamiliar city.  Ask them to research online and then to call, and to then report back on how they were handled.
  • Review with your own sales staff the information that is available to prospective guests online, such as guest reviews (both positive and negative) and social media postings.  Discuss how this information might be conflicting and cause someone to call for clarification.
  • Brainstorm with the sales team a list of questions, concerns, or objections that prospective guests might have.  Then work as a group to list ways in which you might resolve each question or objection.

Doug Kennedy, President of the Kennedy Training Network, has been a fixture on the hospitality and tourism industry conference circuit since 1989, having presented over 1,000 conference keynote sessions, educational break-out seminars, or customized, on-premise training workshops for diverse audiences representing every segment of the lodging industry. Ee-mail Doug at:

Doug Kennedy
Kennedy Training Network, Inc.
1926 Hollywood Boulevard, Suite 203
Hollywood, FL  33020
Office: 954.981.7689
Mobile: 954.558.4777


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Also See: 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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