We all know the old adage about the first impression. You have likely spent considerable time wooing a guest with offers, an optimized website, attractive marketing materials and photos and those great reviews provided by your previous guests. The real first impression, however, comes when human contact is made and is likely to be at your reservation call center or in-house reservations team. Coyle research shows fulfillment over a wide variety of categories, but for the purpose of this piece, let’s focus on the opportunities:
What are the things that your competition is not doing, that you can to a) improve the guest experience, and b) increase the likelihood that the reservation will be retained, once booked.
If your team is able to execute on all three of the concepts below, you will be distinguishing your property. If you execute on only a few, you will at least be making it much harder on your competition to steal the booking once it is made.
Qualifying is King
Only 67% of the time are callers asked what the purpose of the stay is. We see this as a huge opportunity to increase reservation stickiness. Even the most inexperienced sales person is taught to qualify the lead before going right to the close. They are also taught that asking the open-ended, “What brings you to town?” is much better than the closed question of “Are you coming for business or pleasure?” The open-ended question will result in the guest telling the reservation agent exactly what will make them a booker. The table is then perfectly set for a targeted sales pitch and appropriate close.
Benefits, Benefits, Benefits
Of the 67% hotels that actually qualify the caller, only 78% of them use the information gathered to provide tailor-made benefits that speak to those declared needs. Benefits are what advance the sale, and personalized benefits are what close it, well before you ask for the business.
Additionally, only 70% of hotels are truly anticipating guest needs by offering amenities or reservations relevant to the guest stay. If the caller says that they are in town for a business meeting, the free wi-fi, 24-hour room service, and intimate lounge will be selling points. The leisure hotel will want to know that they will be in good hands with the concierge that knows the city like the back-of-their hand, where they should go to dinner and how best to reserve golf or spa.
Have some fun with it. Ask the staff to report what is bringing callers into town and discuss the best ways to address those wonderful pre-qualifying statements. Again, concentrate on benefits (things that really matter to the guest), not features (things you have that impress you).
Acknowledge & Execute
As with most things, a great pitch and sales process is promptly marred by a lack of execution. The reservation has been retained, the guest checks in and none of their requests for floor, bed or early check-in are accommodated. The friendly reservationist now turns into an enemy or the guest will blame the hotel for not executing on their requests. If the reservation team is doing their job of qualifying, learning needs and providing benefits, the table is set for the Front Desk to do one of the most important things they can do: Create a Positive First Impression. The guest did not forget that they asked for a quiet room on a low floor. Simply acknowledging it will put your hotel well ahead of your competitors, executing it eliminates buyer’s remorse, and makes the guest feel safe and secure. Put that in the beginning of the stay and they will be much more forgiving of the cosmetic room defects, the slow room service order, etc.
You have a few opportunities at a first impression during a hotel booking and stay – the first on the call and the second on arrival. Executing on these important pieces of the guest experience can truly set you apart from the competition and help in retaining that guest as your next advocate or repeat guest.
Coyle’s hotel and restaurant quality assurance programs provide you with the complete story to each and every guest experience. With Coyle’s InnsQore product, you get objective, relevant, and meaningful analysis that can help you improve your reservations department and hotel as a whole so each guest turns into a brand advocate. For more information about our services, please contact us.