Rate Quotation Training Tips For Reservations and Front Desk Staff
By Doug Kennedy, President of the Kennedy Training Network
While many hotel reservations and front desk training programs focus on converting inquiries into bookings, it is also important to train these teams on proven techniques for quoting rates effectively. Here are a few tips from our KTN training programs to share at your next meeting.
- Don't automatically ask callers if they qualify for discounts. Many reservations and front desk agents are still routinely asking if the caller is a member of discount programs such as AAA or AARP as part of their initial questioning. This approach leads to unnecessary discounting and also potentially causes a price objection when the caller does not have these affiliations. These rates should only be offered when the guest asks for them or when the caller objects to the initial rate being quoted.
- Avoid mentioning discount rates that are not available. Some sales agents mistakenly make comments such as "Our AAA rate is not available." Again, it is better not to mention this unless they ask. If they do ask, use the term "sold out" instead of saying it is not available.
- When fielding calls for groups at the front desk or in reservations, do not say "You need to speak with the sales department; they will give you a discounted rate." Instead, say "Certainly, we have specialists in our group sales department that are dedicated to assisting you with your plans..."
- Very often when hotels are close to being sold out the remaining options are the highest rated accommodations. Don't make what's left sound like "leftover dinner" by saying "All I have left is..." and thus diminishing the value of remaining options. Instead, present the remaining available options in a positive way by saying, "Fortunately I still have some great options for you. We still have our (suites, luxury rooms, etc...)."
- Similarly, when close to capacity the remaining options might be the lowest rated categories. For resorts this might be "resort view" or "garden view"; for city hotels this might be "limited view." Instead of presenting these in a negative way, make them sound like a good value by saying "Fortunately we still have our traditional rooms. These have all the same amenities as our other rooms and they are a great value at just $X rate." It should be noted that some room types that have glaring negatives such as restricted (rooftop) views or distant locations. If so it is best to manage the guest's expectations in advance by saying "Now just to let you know these rooms do not have a view" or "...they are located further away from the main resort buildings..." and then continue on to point out advantages (same amenities, good value, etc...)
- If you work at a hotel that has cost-savings extras such as complimentary wireless Internet, free parking, complimentary breakfast, or if you work at a resort that does not charge a resort fee, be sure to mention these value-added benefits prior to quoting rates. Examples: "Unlike many other resorts in our area we do not have a resort fee on top of the rate..." or "Keep in mind that all of the rates I am going to quote all include..."
- When quoting low-demand rates, such as off-season at a resort or off-peak nights (Sunday or Monday) at a city hotel, mention what the "normal" (top-tier) rate is before quoting the applicable rates to make them sound like a value opportunity.
- When callers object to rates, assure them that the rates quoted are comparable with the other like-properties in the area. Example: "I'm not sure if you have had a chance to check around, but we I think you will find our rates are very competitive for these days. I can lock it in for you now while you check..."
- Although the strategy of offering a "don't lose the sale" rate went out of style years ago in the spirit of rate parity and "best available rate" pricing models, some hotels have gone back to this approach for voice reservations inquires to help their agents channel-convert those who see the same (or lower) rate online at a third party website. If your hotel has embraced this rate strategy, first tell the guest that you will "check further" for special discounts and after a short pause present the availability of a lower rate as being a unique opportunity. Example: "In checking further, I was able to find a room I can offer you at..."
- Another strategy that is especially helpful for overcoming rate objections at "destination" type resorts where staying at the resort itself is an integral part of the travel experience, offer to check alternative dates for lower rates. This is also helpful at seasonal resorts and for all hotels when there are city-wide events which the guests is not attending.
- When rates change during a guest's multi-night stay, be sure to mention the higher-rated nights first even if they fall later in the stay, rather than just quoting rates in the chronological order. So instead of saying "The rate for the first night is $X and then it goes up to $Y...." Say "For the last night of your stay the regular rate of $Y would apply, but during the first night we can offer you a special rate of $X."
- When guests object to the rates for parking, which is happens most commonly at city-center hotels, simply agree with them. Example: "Yes, I know, $45 per night is a lot of money just to park a car. But just to let you know parking is at a premium here at the city center. The good part is that our parking is well-secured and unground, and with our unlimited in-out privileges you can access it anytime."
- When guests object to minimum stays, indicating that they only need to stay one night, let them know that most of the other hotels in your market are also requiring a two-night minimum (if that is the case, which it likely will be). Continue on to mention the advantage of being able to check-out as late as they want, or if your hotel is set-up to do so, that they can use the extra night to ensure that their room will be ready early on the day of their arrival. (This assumes they only stay one night.)
By covering these KTN training tips at your next meeting you will help your team help your hotel to maximize revenues. Let us know if you would like details on KTN workshops or webinars that cover these and other revenue optimization strategies.