Webinar Highlights: Reservations Sales Tips For Selling Out For Summer, 2021 And More

Webinar Highlights: Reservations Sales Tips For Selling Out For Summer, 2021 And More

As the peak summer vacation season fast approaches, the majority of resorts and vacation rental companies are experiencing a record-setting booking pace, with the inventory of top-tier accommodations selling out first.  Yet calls continue to come in, often from callers who are desperately searching online yet finding limited or no availability.  While some leaders see their team’s job as simply to process this huge wave of calls, others will recognize the unique opportunities this disruption has created. Here are highlights from the live webcast that KTN President Doug Kennedy presented today for Track Hospitality Software and TravelNet Solutions

Indeed, summer of 2021 may in fact be “in the bag,” but the way your agents treat callers and guests now will impact – for better or for worse, in 2022 and beyond.  Long after your inventory is sold-out, questions like these will be continuing to come in by voice, chat, and “in-app messaging”: 

  • “I see online that you are sold-out, but…”
  • “Are you saying you don’t have anything left?”
  • “I know that hotels always put some rooms aside…”
  • “But we always book this house every year. Can’t you just move the other guest?”
  • “What do you mean you don’t have a wait list?”

In short, it’s gonna be busy!  You may be working overtime, and callers may be holding online for longer periods, but regardless of the frustration the number one rule is to be patient and be kind. Remember that you are the first impression makers and that the conversations you are having personify your “brand.”

Leaders, encourage your team to think about how much it costs to make that phone ring. It may be interesting to quantify the total digital marketing budget, and then divide that by the number of calls.  How much does your resort or company spends on: 

  • Paid Adwords
  • Organic SEO
  • Email campaigns   
  • Social media campaigns
  • Digital marketing in general. (Website design, video, photography, copywriting.) 

When all that work causes a web-surfer to call, let’s make sure we don’t blow the opportunity to great goodwill for the brand, and along the way, also get an email address! So, when callers express any of the otherwise “annoying” questions listed above, pause briefly to share their disappointment and to give them a moment to accept it, then say:  

“I know. I’m so sorry to have to deliver this news. We would love to host you as our guest during another visit though.  While I have you on the line, let me grab your email address so we can notify you of special promotions and welcome you again another time.” 

Note: be sure NOT to ask “Do you want to be on our email list?” because that will surely be an automatic “no.” Now, let’s take a look at some training tips to sell out the remaining inventory for high-demand dates.

Check for Gap Dates: If the dates they are calling about are showing sold out for their entire stay, is it possible to find inventory for some of those dates? Would it help if they did a mid-stay move to a different room or rental house?  With summer options getting to be slim everywhere, you just might find that guests are more flexible than they normally would be. 

Upsell To Over-Sized Options:  Sometimes you might be dealing with a couple looking for just a room or a one-bedroom option, but all you have left are two- or three-bedroom accommodations.  In this case, first acknowledge that the space is more than what they need, but then point the advantages. Example: 

“I know it’s just the two of you, and this is a two bedroom, but the good thing is that you would enjoy…”

Downselling To “Last Sell” Inventory:  At other times, the caller may be requesting a larger or more premium location, view or room-type, but what you have is smaller or in a lower-rated category.  In this case, be sure to never say “All we have left is…”  Instead, use this transition to position what’s left in the best possible way, while also creating urgency: “Fortunately, what we still have open is…”   Be sure to point out any “glaring deficiencies” they will immediately notice, and then continue on to say what’s good about it.  Example: 

“Fortunately, what I still have at that time is our standard (non-view) option. Now this one is a little smaller and does not offer the balcony. However, it still offers all of the same amenities and services.  Besides, there’s so much to do here during your vacation that you may not be in the room that much anyway.”

Now, let’s take a look at four questions that you will surely be hearing so that we can be prepared.

“Why are the rates so much higher this time?” (Or higher on weekends.) 

  • Do not say: “The rates go up when it’s our busy season.”
  • Instead say: “When occupancy (or demand) is lower, we are able to offer some terrific specials, but for your dates our ‘normal’ (or prevailing) rates apply.”

“Why is there a minimum stay requirement?”

  • Callers often continue-on to express why they, in particular, cannot stay that long.  When this happens, try selling the benefits of the extra night(s). Example: 

“The good news is that you will be able to stay as long as you want on your last day, instead of having to worry about check-out time.” or  

“The good news is that because you are paying for the night prior to arrival, you can go right into your accommodation when you get here.”

“WHY is there a charge for (parking, extra persons, booking fee, resort fee)? I have traveled all around the world, and I’ve NEVER paid that before.”

  • The truth: They might act surprised, however, chances are they are actually not. Empathize first, then hold the line on price. Example: 

“I understand your concern, however like others in our area, we do have that as a mandatory fee for all guests to cover the extensive services and amenities offered.”

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