IN THE NEWS
I have told this story many times in training Guest Service Representatives and General Managers. When I directly oversaw properties, a mentor of mine suggested sitting in a lobby corner during breakfast while doing my morning email catch up. This allowed me to listen and be aware of the comings and goings at the property. Breakfast attended interactions, breakfast quality, guest service representative interactions and so on. It’s a practice to put in place as a person that over sees multiple properties.
This practice became a staple in my property visit routine but one always sticks out as a training moment...
As I had my coffee and eggs I over heard an interaction between the guest service representative and the guest. It went like this ( following the proper pleasantries ):
Guest: I booked through Expedia and I would like to stay another night. Can you extend my stay?
GSA: No, I apologize but I cannot. You will need to go online and do it. We have a business center if you wish to use it.
Guest: Oh ok, thanks!
There were so many things wrong with this interaction. Where was the sense of ownership from the GSA to make the most of this opportunity to capture additional revenue? Where was the use of the opportunity to educate this guest on third party sites? The guest was fully satisfied with the response and happy with the interaction but how satisfied would the guest have been with the GSA booking the room for the guest?
After speaking to the General Manager, there were two take always:
The GSA was not trained to seize this opportunity!
The GSA was not permitted to offer anything other then rack rate or the prototype 10% offers.
Lets address training first. I am unsure why any GSA would not understand the importance and value of converting TPI (Third Party Internet ) site travelers to a direct booker. This should be the one of the top 5 things trained in orientation! Not just one guest but each guest that walks into the lobby that booked via a TPI.
Now to the GSA not being permitted to chance rates. Each GSA should have a sense of ownership ingrained in the thought process that they are a part of the success of the hotel. They should be empowered to make the right decision for the hotel. I am in hotels rooms about 90 nights a year. When trying to book my travel, I will look up rates on a meta search site, call the hotel and try and get them to give me a discount off their rack rates utilizing the rates on the internet. Even if all rates are in perfect parity, if I book via Expedia, the hotel will need to pay a substantial commission. Believe it or not, less then 10% of the hotels I call take me up on it. Now I know I am trying to get a discount as a person in the hotel industry but I have a business to keep profitable. You should be more shocked about the 10%! How is this possible!?
Think about it:
If you’re hotel is 100 rooms, 10% your revenue is through TPI sites ( let’s face it many out there have double or even more the triple this ) at a $150 ADR and your are paying 20% (on average) commission, what can a room converted a day mean for your hotel? $10,950 a year right to the bottom line.
1. Train each Guest Service Representative to understand the importance of converting Third Party Internet bookers to direct bookers.
2. Train each Guest Service Representative to understand how to get the most rate possible of out each room. We work in an industry that’s product has a very short shelf life, if you don’t squeeze the most money out of that product, each day, you cannot succeed.