A search for “increasing reservation conversions” returns hundreds, possibly thousands, of articles and blogs posts about growing hotel website conversions. The topic of hotel call conversions, on the other hand, is often treated as a dinosaur to the modern travel era.
Contemporary marketers seem to have forgotten that the phones never quit ringing. In fact, calls are increasingly important as travelers rely on mobile phones for their research.
A Google study; “The Role of Click to Call in the Path to Purchase” found that 70% of mobile searchers used click-to-call functionalies and 61% of those were ready to buy when they used it. Even more importantly, 58% of travelers who were specifically interested in hotels were “extremely/very likely” to call if the call capability was available in a smartphone search.
The voice channel is not only alive and well but it requires attention as it evolves, just like any other sales channel. A reservations team can be a powerful sales force when they are supported with training, technology and systems of accountability. Ultimately, hotel leadership must be fully invested in three key aspects of a successful reservations program to capitalize on the full potential for conversions and revenues:
- Reservations staff
Built around these three concepts, the following tips will help GMs and hotel decision makers reacquaint themselves with one of their most important sales tools.
Experience the Reservations Path from a Guest Perspective
Shop and make a reservation yourself from the web to phone path as well as from the email to phone or web booking. Experience what it’s like to make a booking at your property and determine where processes need improvement, such as user interfaces or call center training.
Elevate the RSM Role
The role of reservation sales managers is misunderstood. If RSMs were viewed as sales staff—in much the same way that hotels and resorts typically view their group sales team—and the role were elevated, most hotels would find less turnover and more success. While it’s not realistic to think their salaries will increase substantially in the near future, it’s critical to ensure that reservations managers are incentivized and feel valued as team members. You want someone who is excited, who can coach and score their agents effectively, who takes ownership, and who feels motivated to exceed their goals. The more worth you give the RSM position, the more value will be returned.
Encourage the Reservations Team By Understanding KPIs
Ensuring a benchmark meeting once per quarter with all stakeholders is critical to keeping everyone working toward the same goals and utilizing consistent techniques for reaching them. Follow this with a focus on the reservation sales team, explaining the value and relevance of the data they collect. Drill down on the KPIs
of individual agents to determine who’s succeeding (in some instances more calls or specific types of calls can be channeled to higher converting agents) and where training is needed to boost performance
Use data-gathering technology
The capability to gather substantial data about callers exists—it’s the foundation of our company really—and it’s worthwhile. With even a minimal amount of information and tracking, abandoned reservations (two-thirds of calls) can be reached with tailored packages and promotions. Technology should also track KPIs for individual agents and allow them to add valuable guest details gathered during their conversations, such as interests, amenity desires, anniversaries, birthdays, and so forth. This guest information becomes the foundation for successful future marketing campaigns.
Turn data into knowledge
I’m still surprised how often the marketing team doesn’t understand revenue management and goals. Bring them into the fold. These measurements are the baselines for a property’s success, and the marketing team must understand them in order to effectively strategize campaigns. Here are some questions to ask marketing:
- What efforts will drive more direct channel bookings, specifically voice?
- Are we effectively using click-to-call technology in online campaigns?
- What is our ADR through voice channel vs. online, OTA, etc.
- What percentage of leads are agents capturing emails for? It should be 80%, but for most hotels it’s only 30%.
- Are we blasting these leads?
- What are the top campaigns in total revenue and ROI?
- How is data being used to increase revenue from our drive market?
- How are we targeting individual guests/prospects?
In addition to onboarding the marketing team, consult with revenue managers about how they are using non-booked data to inform revenue and yield management strategies.
The term investment has come to connote money, but a personal investment is where any productive venture begins. When hotel leaders invest themselves in their staff and in their sales—throughout all channels—the ROI will undoubtedly follow. In the drive to make online channels the focus of their investment, many GMs have forgotten that reservations are still a sales process, one that is frequently best done by a sales team.
About Kyle Buehner:
Kyle Buehner has been with NAVIS since its inception in 1986, investing more than 25 years developing the business. As CEO of NAVIS, Kyle combines his knowledge of the telecom, software and hospitality industries with his entrepreneurial expertise to lead NAVIS in providing innovative sales and marketing solutions to the vacation rental management and independent resort markets. Kyle’s exemplary business and personal ethics are highly admired by the entire company and have played a key role in NAVIS being honored by the Oregonian as a Top Workplace 3 years in a row.
Contact NAVIS to read more on unified data-centric sales and marketing and see how other hotels and resorts are implementing these concepts.