Properties spend a lot of money in trying to get direct reservations traffic because the ROI on those reservations is usually higher than having a third party like an OTA, travel agent, or wholesaler involved. With that said, not enough attention is spent on ensuring the quality of a call-in reservation and making sure that the capture ratio of the calls are maximized. By comparison, a direct competitor to your own in-house reservationist could be a travel agent, because in those cases they’re both calls that involve speaking to a human.
When you call a travel agent an agent spends more time understanding the client, qualifying the client, providing value, offering peace of mind, and creating, designing, and customizing the caller’s vacation. There is a tendency, when calls are received by an on-property reservationist, to make it more of an order taking experience. You should definitely experience the process as your future guests might – call your own reservation line and go through the steps of booking a room and see what the experience is really like.
The art of selling is usually quite different on your property compared to that from a travel agent or even a call center reservation bank. It is important to take note of this because typically, you find that the more money people spend for their vacation, the more they choose to interact with a human being when making their plans and decisions. They are looking for that human interaction to be convinced that they’re spending their money wisely.
If you’re less than satisfied with your call-in experience at your own resort, here’s what you can do:
- Train staff to understand that extending their normal ‘in person’ hospitality practices to their reservation calls is important.
- The call taker should never assume that when a call is taken that the person has made up their mind to book. They need to treat the call like an opportunity, not a given.
- Using best practices established by your property for reservation procedures and closing the sale should not be compromised. Try to get your staff to go beyond the ‘this is reservations, how can I help you’ to create a dialogue with the caller and address their needs in a customized way.
- Continuous monitoring and reviewing of quality of calls is essential. A quality control program should be in place by management.
- Get creative with your reservationists’ schedules and coverage. Track when your calls come in and see when your busiest hours and days are. As an example, keep in mind that most leisure, ‘big ticket’ reservations are made during off business hours. Most people don’t book their vacations while sitting in their offices.
Following these best practices on your property should increase your call-in reservation conversion rate and ultimately increase your ROI.