Answering the phone for a house host is key for grasping direct sales. In this article I will offer a simple business strategy, to raise interests through this channel of business. I promise that by the end of this article, the phone will be your best friend.
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Up until the arrival of OTA’s, telephone sales accounted for an essential part of the business process. Nowdays, our telephone is mainly used as a vehicle for information and confirmation of already made reservations. Answering the phone has nearly become a convenience. A passive commercial stance over an active one is to be avoided.
Your guest has already booked, on Booking or Expedia, in your establishment. They only contact you for confirmation.
You’re thinking : “Danm! Not only do I loose 18% in commissions, I’m also wasting time on the guest” (which is true as they already received notifications through intermediate platforms).
I as for me, I might have had the worst reaction ever to these phone requests, as I considered them untimely and revolting (because they made me waste time and loose money).
With a cheesy smile in my voice :
“I suggest you contact Booking with whom you made your reservation to make sure that they have registered your reservation ”
“You normally receive a notification from Expedia, I suggest you go and check”
Don’t follow the sad example of a Director freshly trained on the job. Instead thoroughly train your staff to face this challenge.
- Seize direct sales, free of commission charges
- Valorize guest relations through any channel of reservation.
- The first step is to understand the client’s true motivations, as they contact you directly to exchange verbally.
- To make sure that your establishment exists. (They could have done it earlier in directly making their reservation, but we are not to juge)
- To make sure that their reservation is validated. (They suddenly no longer consider the OTA as an interlocutor…. There again no judgement)
- To by fully informed of details of interests : breakfast hours, parking arrangements, check-in and check-out hours.
These informations are usually listed on our respective platforms, yet guests prefer to here from you #love. To summarize, your guest is looking for reinsurance. They will quit that habit and change their way of life by coming to you. In sales, this is called a “captive customer”, especially if they have opted for a non-refundable rate or are arriving at your home shortly. The rest is up to you, don’t you think?
- With this crucial observation, the second step is to turn the situation to your advantage.
When the guest formulates their request, hush all the voices in your head and focus. It’s probably the tenth time that you had to answer to “where is the parking lot”. However, for your client it’s his first time asking the question. If they ask, it’s for a good reason, theirs. Ask them how they plan to get to the hotel and why they care so much about this information.
Whatever the content of your answer is, the tone must always be with love. Give them what they really ask for : the schedule, parking fees, and even the vacancy rate. (Let us learn and anticipate all the FAQ (frequently asked questions), we must leave the comfort zone of our desks). For example, offer to send them a map by email to materialize your return.
When guests comes to you, they are at your mercy for the next 5 minutes. One cannot imagine the treasures of upsell and data that comme from innocent parking request : like the sale of an airport shuttle deemed more practical or economical by the customer, notification of the arrival or even departure time to synchronize your chambermaids at check in – check out, supplement for booking breakfast, late check-out. Information about the stay during the exchange can reveal the occasion for a honeymoon: a nice congratulating card placed on the bed and signed by the director, will earn you a glowing comment on social networks. Plus, your client may not know that you have a special wedding night suite or a post-stress massage.
All in all, teach your guest the virtues of communicating directly with you. Give them concret proof that they were right to appeal to you directly, and cast doubt on going through a third party. If the guest calls you, it means that the middleman doesn’t have all the intel. Gain ground on your middleman who cannot make all the direct sales you can.
If you don’t bear the fruits on an immediate or future direct sale with this teaching, you will bear the fruits of a direct relationship, also known as “Guest Satisfaction”. It will train you and your staff to further investigate, to anchor yourselves in an active commercial approach, including and especially on incoming requests.
Answer after a maximum of 3 rings (3 is almost too much). Respond calmly, if necessary, apologies are to be formulated directly to the client. Force a smile. It’s contagious.
Have a response process. I recommend it to be helpful, refined and corporate (and anti-factory effect):
- Name of the establishment, first name of the employee (ambassador of your service), how can I help you?
All telephone respondents are should do so and follow the telephone answering process (the owner is not exempt from the rule and untrained staff do not answer. In case of absence, an answering machine is activated).
The email confirming your exchange (and especially your upsell if you were good) must be written within 30 minutes maximum.