Too many hotels feel needed. Their position; city central, seaside, theme park proximity or even their brand can breed complacency. There can be a dependency on a website or a location to do the task of securing the sales. The result. A front desk conversation like this:
“Hello, Complacency Hotel, how can I help you?”
“Hello, I would like to check your availability for the 29th February please”
“What sort of room are you looking for?”
“Double, Single, Standard Double, Executive Double or Suite”
“Just double thank you”
“We have no doubles available for the 29th February”
“Oh, ok. Thank you, bye”
Reservation lost and goes to Proactive Park Hotel down the road.
With just a bit of smart training and know-how this call could have been turned from a lost opportunity to a reservation. It could even have generated repeat business and referrals if it had just been managed more effectively.
So what is stopping receptionists at hotels up and down the country from saying those few extra lines that could make such a difference to their business’ bottom line?
The single biggest reason is the lack of training. But how can management know what training is needed. Short of standing behind the front desk for hours on end at the expense of their other obligations it is not feasible to know exactly how each member of staff Is performing and where to focus training to increase the number of reservations through effective call handling. Or is it?
3 ways to improve front desk performance
There are three key ways that management staff can encourage proactive behaviours in their front desk team.
Call handling training
Usually carried out in a room after a shift with one member of management and several members of staff. The content will usually be generic in order to cater for each member of staff’s training requirements. It can also be costly as staff are being paid for training time. Call handling training is a one way process that doesn’t enable the management to identify the strengths or weaknesses of their call handlers but it does enable them to communicate their expectations to their call handling team.
This is where the calls will usually be recorded and each call will be scored against specific objectives that are set for incoming calls. Then results are often wheeled out to call handlers at appraisals or staff meetings. This approach runs the risk of improvements being short lived unless they are regularly monitored for on-going improvement. This is more of a two way process but still tends to work top down throughout an organisation, controlled by the management. Call scoring data would enable you to see that Call Handler Smith always greets an individual well but never manages a transfer or doesn’t ask for the close. Read more on call scoring>
This is where calls are recorded and then codified (analysed and categorised by call nature, call issues dealt with, grouped according to outcome and maybe scored as well). Call codification is particularly useful where call handlers or managers can log in to their own secure online area to see how their calls, or their team’s calls are performing.
The categorisation of this data makes the difference between having the data and unlocking the value to the data. This enables management and the call handler to see information such as ‘Call Handler Wright never uses the correct greeting, 30% of their calls are lost, but transfers are handled effectively and on average 70% of calls are converted because Call Handler Wright always offers an alternative room where one isn’t available’.
This ongoing approach to training is more cost effective because training and feedback is on-going and targeted and fits around an employees existing job (in addition to more structured formal group training). The ability to identify and utilise successful calls quickly and easily also mean that it is easier to roll out model calls for training in best practice and the recordings of high performing calls can be made accessible to other staff members or trainers to show other call handlers the difference that those few extra words, might make in securing those extra reservations.