Booking Misunderstandings: What it Might Create for a Guest

By.  Ahmed Mahmoud 16th Mar 2010

This is a true story by one guest about a problem with a hotel honoring a room price.

Through the internet the guest tried to book three nights at XYZ hotel, but for some reason the site wouldn’t accept his dates. So he phoned the hotel’s toll-free number, and was offered a rate of 180 US$ per night. The case was, they never asked him how many people were staying in the room.

The hotel e-mailed him a confirmation and he prepaid the entire three-night stay for the room by credit card. Then he realized that he needed to add another night to his stay for the night before the return flight, so he called back. He was told that he could get an extra night at the same rate. They didn’t send an e-mail confirmation this time.

When his credit card statement arrived, he was surprised to see that the charges from the hotel were more than $260 higher than what he had originally quoted. He tried to call and e-mail the hotel, but the best explanation they could offer was that there was a “different rate” for two people in the room. That didn’t make any sense for him, because he had always known and planned to travel with his wife. There had been no mention of a “double” rate, and his reservation indicates nothing about number of people in the room.

At the end of the story the guest was asking, why are they not honoring his confirmation and verbal agreement to the rate for his stay?

The answer could be one of several reasons why the guest was charged more for his room than he expected, those reasons I will leave to your imagination.

But these for sure lead us to the story about 4 employees called Anybody, Somebody, Everybody? And Nobody?

There was a really important job to be taken care of for a customer. Everybody thought somebody would take care of it. Anybody could have done it but nobody did – leaving the customer very angry!!!

You as XYZ agent take a guest reservation – how do you feel when talking to someone who is not listening to you?

>Annoyed >Frustrated >Wasting your time.

Many individual travelers get confused with the hotel industry terminology, i.e., a guest asking for single room, reservation agent booking it for him as single person, when the guest checks in it was 2 persons based on single bed type. Thus makes big difference and revenue lost, if we did not have or gave the correct information from and to the guest.

A few years ago, a reservations agent taking a guest’s call might simply ask, “May I help you?” and then “when would you like to stay with us?” nowadays the approach is different. Our reservations people are called reservations sales agent, so our focus is not simply taking a guest’s order, but on selling the property’s services to the guest. The promi-nence in the mind of today’s reservations sales agent is “How can I convince you to stay with us?”

As it is said, The Reservations Department is where everything starts.

So it is strongly recommended that all hotel/resort should have hotel computer software system installed. Most of the reservation department tasks would involve computer work which staff can be trained by suppliers as departmental trainers. However, manual systems provided where hotel computer software system for reservation department tasks – and although this may not be applicable for computer – run properties, the knowledge of this most “basic” manual system will be very beneficial for the reservation staff to understand the basics.

Of course there have been developed a complete sales process for reservations agents that in-cludes such basic customer relations skills as lis-tening, tone of voice, and phone etiquette. The first steps in this process are greeting the customer, determining the custom-ers needs, and offering features and benefits that meet those needs. The next steps involve making a recommendation, adjusting the recom-mendation, closing the sale, and wrapping up the call.

That sales process should be from time to time refreshed to insure the prompt service to our customer.

The key to the whole reservations process is determining the customer’s needs. Our reservations sales agents must see each customer as unique. It’s very important for reservations sales agents to quickly determine the type of traveler they’re talking to, so they can relate features and benefits that best fit that particular customer. For example, corporate travelers might want to hear more about club level rooms and their amenities, whereas leisure travelers might want to hear more about recrea-tional features in and outside the property.

Order taking, per se, is still part of the busi-ness. There are customers who know exactly what they want, when, and where. In these in-stances, the emphasis is on providing quick, effi-cient, professional service. However, strict order-taking is done on a small percentage of the calls our company receives anymore. That’s why sales and sensitivity to the guest’s needs are SO important in today’s hospitality environment.

About  Ahmed Mahmoud

Ahmed Mahmoud has more than a decade of experience in the hospitality industry and business administration, Ahmed began his career early by holding a variety of management positions with such top hotel chains as Accor Hotels, Hyatt International and Starwood hotels. With decades of revenue management experience Ahmed founded the very dedicated site for revenue management news, articles,

View Complete Profile