We hear this all the time, “It’s the summer, we can’t implement anything”. I get it. It’s easy to throw out that objection towards a sales person and get them off the phone. Hoteliers in the vacation travel space have told sales people this for years to avoid implementing software. It’s a valid concern, but it might not be the most important concern.
Summer might actually be the perfect time to implement CRM / Call Tracking into your Resort / Vacation Rental Company. Many managers of reservations teams will not want to disrupt their people, and while this is understandable, it is a bit misguided. The reason it is misguided is the same reason why they should be getting TRACK Pulse live ASAP – because they don’t have the Data to really know.
So let’s examine actual data in a Summer / Golf / Beach Market vs the rest of the year and look at the call trends. I feel confident this is a large enough data set to be representative of the market. It is 1,059,303 calls worth of data.
This data set will teach us that although there is no perfect time to implement software, the risk of not implementing a system to decrease abandonment, get accurate call data, accurate conversion data, add contacts and follow up on non-booked calls as soon as possible is much greater than the risk of implementing and learning something new.
Inbound Calls: Inbound Calls in this market peak in July. However, this doesn’t tell you the whole story. What are people calling about? And how many bookings are being created in this time? One could argue, this is the most important time to have tracking in place because the 3 months through the summer are actually your biggest opportunities to be following up with leads and converting additional bookings. If a property goes live in early June, they still have at least 8-12 weeks of prime season to increase conversions and drive up occupancy and direct bookings at a higher margin than waiting and selling open availability through 3rd parties and flash sales.
Inbound Conversions: As you can see although summer has the highest call volumes in this Summer / Beach / Golf market, it isn’t the peak booking Window. The peak INBOUND booking window is actually February through March. This means even though you’re staffed up more in the summer, your people are handling less revenue generating calls. This is the time they should be following up on non booked calls to add outbound revenue.
Outbound: The Peak Outbound Booking Window is actually June through August with 2,042 outbound follow up bookings generated vs 1,862 outbound follow up bookings generated from February – April. This is nearly a 10% increase in conversions and 69.2% of these conversions happened in July and August when the Resorts are at peak occupancy. This means if you went live June 30, 69% of the outbound bookings that you are not capturing today are still available. For this market, this meant over $1M dollars.
What if you do not have a CRM in place and if you are not saving leads and following up during this time? How much money are you leaving on the table? Also, what is the ROI on your Human Resource staff? In this case, they may be staffed 30%-40% higher than in lower months, yet they are handling less inbound bookings. This means less revenue generation. Adding outbound increases your human resource ROI. Shouldn’t you get a system in place right now to ensure you are capturing leads and following up?
Abandonment: Abandonment is an issue all year. If you’re not tracking Abandonment, you may not be staffed correctly, I can cover the effects of Abandonment in another post. But what interesting is it is really no more significant of an issue in this Summer / Beach / Golf market in May or June than it is in March. Either way calls are being missed. Regardless of season, the sooner you get the data, the sooner you can make adjustments and improve.
Consider the data below, there were a total of 55,938 calls not answered that rolled over to voicemail. 50% of these calls statistically speaking would have been res calls (people checking availability) at a 29% avg. close rate (1st call + call back) and $450 average booking this equates t0 27,969 res calls x 29% = 8,111 lost reservations x $450 = $3,649,954 worth of lost revenue.
Ouch. And the scary thing about that is 55,938 / 1,059,303 = 5.2% missed or abandoned calls. This is best in class.
We have seen companies with 20%, 30%, 40% even 60% abandonment who thought they were fine. Do you know your abandonment data or how it will affect your summer months? If you are a CEO or GM reading this and you are empowering your Reservation / Sales managers to increase conversions, how are you giving them the tools and data to make decisions? If you are a Reservation / Sales Manager, how are you managing your team and encouraging increased performance without this data?
Not knowing key data points that contribute so closely to revenue reminds me of this cartoon.
Cancellations: Cancellations are pretty even from March – July then tail off in September (due to volume) If you are getting cancellations and do not have high enough inbound lead volume to replace the lost bookings yet you are staffed at your highest levels, what should you be focusing on?
Follow Up. If you do not have a system in place this summer to capture inbound reservation calls and follow up, how will you replace cancelled bookings. When do cancellations occur in this beach market? March – July.
So, if you are in a Summer / Beach / Golf Destination, when is the best time to implement? I think the real question should be, what is the opportunity cost of not implementing a system like this?
Here are just a few companies that launched TRACK Pulse in Peak Booking Seasons:
- Brittain Resorts & Hotels
- Southern Vacation Rentals
- Skytop Lodge
The Reward here clearly outweighs the risk. Here are some thoughts to consider around this risk reward issue:
- You’re missing calls already. Don’t go blind any longer, figure it out and fix it. You’ll know in 1 week how big of a problem it is and we can help you figure out what to do about it. This has a direct effect on revenue. What kind of effect would a 50% decrease in abandonment have on your revenue?
- Your summer season is actually the best time to generate follow up revenue and could make or break your year. Companies over 150 units in TRACK Pulse average over $500k in soft follow up revenues with some as high as $6M annually.
- The Highest volume of cancellations are in the summer, you need to be following up on leads to fill in the gaps.
- Staffing – are you overstaffed or understaffed? Without the data how will you know? This affects your bottom line
- Implement TRACK CHAT and reduce the number of calls coming into your call center for basic customer service questions, this will actually improve the efficiency of your team and take stress off your human resources.
- Every contact you save this summer can be used to market back to next summer. What would that do to your advanced reservations?
There are so many reasons why you should act, right now, regardless of the season. By implementing TRACK Pulse, even in their peak booking season, they generated an additional $2.6 Million in follow up revenue – over 10% of total bookings in this time frame.
And who wins in this situation? Everyone.
Reservation Agents: Decreased handle times, increased calls answered, decreased abandonment, better communication tools, happier guests, more bookings generated, increased revenue, more incentives earned, higher total earnings paid, happy Reservations Manager!
Reservations Managers: Higher performing team members, better conversion rates, decreased abandonment, better customer service, happier guests, more bookings generated, increased revenue, higher manager incentives earned, Happy Boss!
VP Marketing: Revenue by campaign tracked, better analytics on Ad Spend, higher conversion rates on leads generated, higher ROI on Marketing / Advertising spend.
GM: Better overall sales performance, higher occupancy, increased top and bottom line, Happy Ownership!
Ownership / C – Suite: Better access to data, better decision making, increased top and bottom line.
Most importantly: The Guest! They get to have an amazing vacation experience with your amazing company!
Let’s not let fear of disruption hold us back from improving our businesses. In fact, disruption may be the only way.