Hotel salespeople are inundated with booking inquiries from meeting planners and guests alike. Closing those sales starts with a good first impression.
For transient reservations agents, the flood of leads is being caused primarily by two reasons. First, those who search on mobile devices chose to “click to call” instead of trying to purchase with their thumbs. Second, many guests search online first then call to double-check the rate and amenities.
Therefore, most salespeople are experiencing “lead creep” or “lead spam,” which is causing what I call “hotel sales lead fatigue.” As a result, it is a great time to retrain hospitality salespersons to stop all of this shopping around and to close the sale.
Close from the start
When it comes to hotels within the same classification and market segment, whenever one hotel brand adds a nifty new feature it is not long thereafter until all the other brands follow suite. While purchasing managers all can buy from the same vendors, the power of sales relationships must be nurtured like a well-tended garden; you can select the right seeds, but you must plant those seeds in fertile soil, water them regularly and tend to them as they grow.
Traditional sales training has presented nifty techniques such as the “forced choice close” (e.g. “Which of those can I secure for you?”) and the “assumptive sale close” (e.g. “What email address shall I use for the confirmation?”). Yet today’s sales prospects are far too savvy to be tricked into buying.
Stand out from the competition
Hotel sales department: 1- Ensure inquiry calls are answered live whenever possible. 2- Respond promptly—within hours, not one day—to all email inquiries, even if your hotel is sold out or if the rate they are seeking is far below your range. 3- Notify senders if more time is needed to respond in full detail. 4- Respond by telephone instead of just emailing back or responding online at the planner website as most others are doing. If planners truly did not want to be called, they would not have put down their correct phone number, and they can dodge your calls if they do not want to pick-up. Even a polite and personalized voicemail makes an impression. 5- Personalize email correspondence rather than sending out form letters. Greet the sender and paraphrase and restate key details from their original inquiry. 6- Send selected relevant photos and customized floor plans showing their configuration. 7- Include your picture and Skype address on your email auto-signature; encourage video calling. 8- Offer to host online meetings to review the proposal and explore their needs. In doing so, use your webcam; offer live virtual tours.
Don’t be shy