Do you know who your best converting reservations agent is? A call center is a highly dynamic operation, which is quite complex to manage. It represents an important hotel revenue stream and deserves more attention than it usually gets. Optimizing this inbound sales department will have an immediate impact on both your revenue and bottom line profit.
What could be the financial improving or fine-tuning the operations of your hotel reservations call center? To answer this question we should ask ourselves what the equivalent required marketing budget would be to convert 1 more call per agent (per day or even per hour).
Depending on the size of your team this could add up to anywhere from 2 up to even 100 reservations per day. In any case it could become an important amount of extra business.
In hotels we tend to focus on expanding distribution channels, and working the market with our outbound sales team. We should also focus on the details of our reservations call center. Improving efficiencies and processes can easily lead to more sales, and generally at lower cost.
Even though in the internet age the volume of phone sales might have decreased, a substantial volume of calls still come in to hotels. This includes both transient (non-qualified), and contracted corporate business.
In our previous article we have outlined how the reservations sales process can be streamlined (read here). But there is more to it. We need to measure ourselves to gain a better understanding of how we are performing, and to identify where opportunities for improvement lie.
What are some of the simple things that could go wrong in hotel reservations?
- Loss of calls during peak hours due to lack of capacity.
- Loss of conversion after hours when calls are routed to front desk.
- Low conversion due to calls being rushed.
- Overstaffing during slow times.
We start by measuring the call volume and flow in the hotel. For this you need an ACD (call tracking) system connected to your reservations phone system. You can measure KPI (key performance indicators) as:
- Calls Received
- Calls Answered
- Percentage Booked
The above data should be measured per hour so you can get a good overview of how well we are handling the incoming sales leads through the day. Match the calls with the numbers of reservations; we can generate a conversion ratio. Match this with revenues, room nights, room types, segments, etc to get useful trend numbers of your overall performance in taking calls, and turning them into a contribution to your bottom line.
Other useful statistics to measure effectiveness are:
- Lost Calls
- Average Call Time
- Average Waiting Time
It will answer questions like; do we have the right staffing during peak hours, or are we loosing calls? Are we overstaffed during slow days? In short, is our schedule matching the call patterns?
We should also log why people are not booking to be able to gain a better understanding of the business. Among the reasons could be:
- Corporate Rate Unavailable
- Looking for another Rate
- Room Type Sold Out
- Booked to Capacity
- Just Shopping
You can also tag this for which months 0, +1, +2 to gain a better understanding of the lead time and shopping behavior.
It is also important to tag calls generated by online and offline promotions to identify how much additional call volume these might generate. It would be a shame if you would lose calls generated by advertising, ruining the ROI of your campaign. If you know how many calls to expect in the future based on results from previous campaigns, you can schedule for it.
If not handled well ‘the afterhours challenge’ can become costly. Many hotels route calls to the reception when the reservations office is closed. Unfortunately front desk clerks are not as well trained in the sales reservations script. Conversion tends to be low. Or just imagine the impression you make on a potential guest calling from overseas due to time zone differences, whom is told to call back the next morning as reservations is closed, and they are busy checking people in.
The only way to know how you are performing is by quantifying results into data and statistics. It will allow you to pinpoint areas of improvement.
But we are not done yet. We have only the overall performance of the reservations department. How about assessing the performance of our reservations sales agents?
Of course based on the sales training and script they have we have to do test calls and score them. But this is only part of the equation. We would like to know who our top revenue generating agents are. Who is bringing in real money?
We also need to identify which reservations sales agents need additional coaching to improve their conversion and revenue results. Here some of the statistics we should compile for our sales agents on a daily basis:
- Calls Taken
- Reservations Made
- Conversion %
- Revenue Generated
You can also dive in deeper and analyze which agents are more capable of selling higher room categories. Separating conversion per segment might also lead to interesting data, illustrating who can sell the BAR best.
Now that we know who our top sales agents are, let’s review the schedule again. When should they be working? Slow days or peak hours? What tasks do we give them? Manual data entry, because they are faster than the others? Moreover you can set goals!
Every agent has different qualities, and you need to make sure they are well scheduled according to your business needs. I.e. don’t put on agents that tend to slow sell during peak call volume hours. Nope, you will need the quick shooters and fast converters during rush hour …
All of this speaks for itself if you think of it. But it is worth reflecting upon and measuring the performance to optimize the ROI you get out of your hotel reservations department.