Webinar Highlights: Quoting Higher Rates And Overcoming Rate Restrictions For 2022
Although this topic is always relevant, it is especially important right now for most resorts and for virtually all vacation home rental companies where historically high demand is fueling significant rate increases. Across all segments of lodging, increasingly sophisticated pace tracking and demand projection tools are enabling advancement of revenue management. As Revenue Managers (RMs) have more “levers” than ever before to “pull,” it falls upon the reservations and front desk staff who field calls, email inquiry and in-person conversations to explain historically high rates and confusing “stay restrictions” to today’s savvy consumers. This blog will address tactics for use when fielding to both objections and stay restrictions.
What To Say When Guests Object To Higher Rates
Don’t simply agree with them! Based on what our KTN team hears when we place mystery shop calls and when we score calls recorded in systems like Track Pulse, it’s important to remind your agents to side with the company, not the guest! When guests make comments such as “Wow, I can’t believe how much the rates went up since last time…” do NOT simply agree with them, even though you too might actually be surprised!
Convince yourself that your rates are “worth it” to the callers! Quote all rates with confidence, even if they seem high to you, and trust your RM. Remember that many guests make such comments just to test your reaction. They may be fine with paying the rates quoted, but just making sure they are getting the best deal. Offer to check alternative dates, locations, and/or categories.
Mention the approximate price “per family,” “per couple,” or “per bedroom.” Example: “That would be $3,500 for the week, or about $1,750 for each of the two families.” Or “That runs $398 per night, which is about $200 per couple.”
When repeat guests find that “their” option is already booked, express empathy and apologize. This is the time to go against the “textbook” standard of “NEVER allow dead-air.” Simply pause for a moment for them to process the bad news. Apologize, even though it is not your fault. Then ask questions such as: “Have you ever considered a different (location/type of accommodation)? Those offer a great value.” Or “Are your dates flexible? If you could visit (earlier/later) the rates tend to be lower and the weather is still usually pretty good.” We may ultimately lose some long-term guests. BUT… …we will also gain new customerele who think our rates represent a really good deal!
What To Say When Guests Object To Restrictions
How to explain why rates change. Some callers mention that the rates are significantly higher than they have previously paid for the same (or similar) options. Your first reaction might be to explain that the current rates “go up” when it’s busy, such as “Summer is the busiest time here, so the rates are higher…” A better approach is to explain that “high season rates” are actually the “normal” rates. Rather than raising rates when we are busy, we offer lower rates when it is slower. Example: “Sometimes when our occupancy drops during certain times of the year, we are able to offer lower rates and specials. At this time though our normal (or ‘prevailing’) rates apply.”
Explaining why rates go up between their inquiry and their call-back. Example: “When you called previously, we were anticipating it would be slower than usual, so we were temporarily offering a lower rate, but now things are back to normal for this time of year. If they continue to object you might say “Are your dates flexible by chance? (No!) Well then actually this is a wonderful time to visit because…”
Explaining “Mid-Stay Rate Variance.” Some RMs will instruct the reservations sales team to simply quote a flat “per stay” rate and not mention that rates vary for each night, so this tactic is not relevant. However, other RMs want us to also notify guests regarding the specific rate for each night, just in case they later want to shorten their stay. Most agents quote the rates in chronological order, mentioning the lower-rated nights first.
- Example: “For your first two nights (example: Wednesday and Thursday) the rate is $275, and then the rate goes up to $350 per night on the weekend.” Instead, quote higher-rated nights first, even if they fall later in the stay.
- Example: “For the last two nights of the rate of $350 applies, but for the first two nights we can offer you a lower rate of $275.”
Positioning “Shoulder” and “Low Demand” rates as being a good value. This works well when you are quoting rates for any dates that are not during peak demand and is called “rate framing.”
- Example: “The ‘normal’ rate on this one is $350 a night, but for your dates I have can offer you a rate of $275…”
Selling remaining inventory when dates are nearly sold-out. When inventory is limited, odds are that what’s left will be at either the top-end or low-end of the “rate” spectrum. In these situations, avoid saying: “All I have left is…” Instead create urgency, and position what’s left as still being great options: “Fortunately, what I still have at that time is…” Continue on to acknowledge that it might be larger (or smaller) than what they were looking for, or in a different location, or different property type. If you are “downselling,” and the remaining inventory is lower-priced, be sure to point out any “glaring deficiencies” they will immediately notice upon arrival, but also point out what’s “good” about it.
Overcoming objections to minimum stays. First ask: “Are you able to extend your vacation?” If they are not, then say: “The good news is that you could get access to the (immediately upon arrival…” or “You won’t have to worry about an early morning check-out. You can linger longer on your last day of vacation.”