The Missing Link in Book Direct Strategies: the Front DeskBy Maeve Walls - Key Account Manager & Revenue Specialist at Net Affinity
Hoteliers have been putting huge amounts of efforts into building solid book direct strategies. However, your fantastic strategy to align your goals for marketing & revenue might be missing a crucial element. Beyond ensuing that both departments communicate well, there's another link missing for a lot of properties: the full inclusion of your front desk staff in the goals and strategy.
More and more responsibility has been given to front desk teams, and tasks have increased and diversified. However, how well are you communicating the purpose and importance of tasks designed to improve your revenue strategy?
These tasks include:
- Establishing the purpose for guest visit
- Identifying a return guest
- Encouraging an OTA booker to book directly next time
- Reservations out of hours
- Up-selling on arrival
These are big ticket items. However, too often, little explanation is given as to why these items are so important to the hotel's long term strategy. Additionally, many hotels don't seem to incentivise front desk teams to excel, or encourage healthy competition for the sales items.
Taking the time to fully train your front desk staff and include them in your property's major goals will give you huge returns over time.
Let's take a look at these tasks and why they're so important, one by one:
Purpose of Visits
How much time does marketing spend laboring over the market segmentation of guests? So much of a hotel's marketing spend and strategy is centered around the current market segmentation for hotel guests, and the areas where they want to grow.
However, the simple phrase "if you put rubbish in, you get rubbish out" is core here. If the purpose of the visit is not being recorded accurately at reception, then your hotel's segmentation process is flawed at best.
Identifying a Return Guest
Your front desk staff are the members of your team best placed to physically recognise a return guest and possibly spot whether or not a duplicate profile has been created for this guest.
It's still a big ask on a busy reception desk, or at a larger property. To make sure you have an accurate record, reservations staff must be fully aware of why measuring returning guest numbers is so key to your revenue strategy. They must also be motivated.
Encouraging Guests to Book Direct Next Time
Encouraging guests to book direct on their next stay is one part of an overall strategy. However, does your front of house team understand where they fit in?
Your front desk team are reinforcing a message about the merits and benefits of booking directly with the hotel. This will hopefully already have been clearly featured on the hotel website and featured in the in-room literature.
The front desk team become the face of this message in your hotel.
The front desk team are the first voice or face to face encounter the booker will have with your hotel. The way guests are treated on calls, during check in and over the course of there is hugely important. It is the measure of whether the perception put forth by the hotel online then lives up to the reality.
Reservations & Up-selling
Becoming a charming sales person, both on the phone and in person, requires a whole different skillset. Charming and encouraging a guest to make a booking or to enhance their stay in some way takes both talent and training. Sales skills need proper training, not just a script to use.
Money shouldn't take precedence over the motivation to provide a great guest experience. However, if teams aren't incentivised to close sales, what's in it for them? They already have a full task list of work to fill their day. Incentivising here also helps foster healthy competition, some banter and will help the team become more of a team.
Train, Include, Value and Reward
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to properly train front desk teams. They must know how to use the various systems and handle the standard items of check in and check out, balancing accounts, and more. Here is a thorough list of front desk skills.
The technical aspects aren't the most important part of the job, though. The value of committing meaningful time to upskill team members fully in sales skills, customer service and the bigger picture of your hotel's strategy is inestimable.
Make sure your hotel's overall goals are specific and valuable. As Todd Cline writes, "There's no doubting the value of goals. Without them, it is too easy to become situation-oriented, and allow the environment to dictate responses instead of strategy. However, the key is to limit the number of goals. Successful execution relies on a disciplined approach that focuses on just a few critical principles." What are your hotel's critical principles?
Your front desk teams must be included and valued for their core role in the end success of the actual guest experience. The guest experience is the result of the work marketing and revenue have completed to deliver the guest to the website and completing their booking. Make sure it's worth it.
Maeve Walls is the Key Account Manager & Revenue Specialist at Net Affinity. In this role Maeve manages key accounts and take ownership of all aspects to ensure that their core needs are being met and surpassed. In addition, Maeve has overall responsibility for the revenue management discipline and intelligence within Net Affinity. With a background in reservations and revenue management. Maeve has over 10 years of experience working with hotels in Ireland. Maeve’s range of expertise includes reservations, revenue and yield management, with a focus on online channels.
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