Profitability Strategy #3: Improving Guest Service While Increasing Reservations
From 2014 to 2015, Narrowcast captured over 8 million vacation rental calls, equating to over 38 million minutes of dialogue with guests. That’s an average of 4.75 minutes per call. A comparable standard for visitors to vacation rental websites is hard to come by and, frankly less meaningful. No matter the multitude of analytics available, the true value and level of engagement with the guest via technology is never clear unless it can be directly tracked to a booking. Those 4.75 minutes on the phone with an agent, however, are not only trackable, but they also offer the highest level of pre-stay guest interaction.
Perhaps this is the reason that 43% of travelers continue to make their hotel reservations by way of the telephone (HotelNewsNow). Even more compelling is this: 7 in 10 U.S. vacation rental dollars are spent on the phone with an agent (TravelIndustryWire). The point being that when it comes to profitable operations, reservations sales agents are a VRM’s greatest assets.
Operational efficiencies are essential to profitability, especially given the stampede of new vacation rentals on the market and aggressive new private accommodations riding in bareback. That said, all new efficiencies must support the highest level of guest service rather than reduce the quality of interaction, which efficiency often does. Intelligent technology can bolster an agent’s ability to convert bookings—along with higher nightly rates and longer stays—while simultaneously improving the way that reservations operates.
Here’s your guide to using technology to grow reservations sales in a way that improves guest service:
- Data capture of guest information.
A technology such a Narrowcast Connect automatically gathers caller data, and while this data is useful from a CRM perspective, it also serves to help establish a rapport with guests right away. With immediate access to the guest’s name, geography, and booking history, agents can make a personal connection at the beginning of a conversation. The guest’s perception of service is immediately enhanced and the opportunity to genuinely connect with the guest grows, both of which increase the likelihood of conversion.
- Call analytics and KPIs.
The ability to track and record virtually every detail of reservations calls directly affects the quality of mentoring and training that agents receive. Managers may elect to study calls to ensure agents are using best practices during every reservation—from explicitly asking for the reservation to stacking and funneling questions with prospective guests. In a team scenario, KPIs may be established and tracked publicly to meet individual as well as team goals.
- Call routing technology
A call routing tool has multiple applications that directly improve profitability. For instance, using agent data—perhaps segmenting the data to understand agents with high booking volume versus agents with the highest ADR reservations—calls may be automatically routed to the highest converting agents. In the event a reservation goes unbooked and the guest returns to ask questions or reserve the rental, call routing allows guests to be re-routed to the last agent they spoke with. This makes service more consistent, improves internal efficiency in closing the reservation, and promotes a relationship with the guest.
It is rare to find efficiencies that improve profitability without undercutting service and offerings; however, reservations technology that increases an agent’s aptitude for guest interaction does just this. Reservations best practices, when combined with hospitality CRM technology, typically increase reservations conversions a minimum of two percentage points and as much as nine points, and the potential even greater profitability grows: agent performance and satisfaction grows, guest service is improved which makes for happier guests, and happier guests maximize repeat guest potential.