Most lodging industry reservations agents have been trained to try close the sale, which is best attempted right after rates are quoted. (Assuming that you have engaged the caller in a conversation, answered their specific questions, and sold the overall experience, as we have addressed in previous blogs and webinars.) Likewise, most agents have also been trained to try to overcome resistance from those callers who express that they are hesitant to commit with statement such as:
- “I’ll have to check with my wife (or husband) first.” Or
- “I need to book my flights.” Or
- “I need to check with my boss to get approval on the dates.”
Some are honest and upfront and simply say what most of the others truly mean, which is that they are going to continue to shop around to check rates and options elsewhere.
The training tips most agents have already heard for these call scenarios relate to creating urgency and removing barriers to booking now. Urgency statements are best prefaced with “That’s fine, but just to let you know…” which positions what comes next as a courtesy being extended. Here are some urgency statements:
- “Availability is limited at that time…”
- “That’s one of our most popular accommodation types and those tend to book up first…”
- “That special rate/promotion might not be available.”
The verbiage used to remove barriers varies according to the deposit, guarantee and cancellation policies in place. For hotels that only get a card to guarantee the room, agents might say: “…the credit card is just to guarantee availability when you arrive; we do not actually charge it until arrival.” When a deposit is actually charged the agents might say “Once we process your deposit, you can always call back to cancel for a refund up until 30 days prior to arrival…” For those who charge larger deposits (50% or more) and/or those who charge a non-refundable booking fee, the revenue manager might allow agents to put the booking on a 24 or 48 hour courtesy hold.
Regardless, and in all of the above circumstances, one thing that too many agents do is to rush through their explanation of these details so quickly that the caller cannot even understand what is being said. Instead, what we need to be doing is to speak exxtttrrraaaa ssllloooowwwwwlllllllyyyy. Not only so that the caller can understand the words, but also because we want to give them a chance to change their mind.
Remember, in these situations we are asking someone to completely change their mind and to reverse a decision. We need to give their brains a chance to process the offer and to think it through. So we need to really be speaking at least 50% slower than we might during other parts of the reservations conversation.