Staff Training and Development to Increase Sales
In this article, we have highlighted the importance of training and development of your hotel sales team. In many hotels we find that the reservations and events departments seem to have less training than any of their colleagues, with on-going on-the-job training being commonplace front-of-house, but less prevalent for the office based teams.
Whilst the above is true, in contrast, that same department is probably the most targeted, with hotel occupancy and rooms revenue being the main financial factor discussed in management meetings across the industry.
1. Customer Service: Develop a Customer-Focussed Culture
We'll start with an easy one! Instil a culture of the "customer is king" across all employees and they'll start to self govern - however if one person or department constantly falls short, the rest of the hotel will follow. People are more inclined to buy something from someone they like, so a friendly and helpful approach will work wonders, even when sales skills, knowledge or confidence are lacking. Ensure a happy workforce by managing bad feelings and disagreements in the business (especially that delicate relationship between the sales team and the Ops team!), and you've made the first easy step towards building an effective sales force.
2. Financial Awareness: Do You Have a Sales Team or a Customer Service Team?
Next, make sure that everybody knows their role. A friendly and helpful persona is a great first step, but make sure that your team know that this is only one of their responsibilities. In most hotels, a reservationist or events co-ordinator is often a junior role, yet they have the many responsibilities that flow into the hotel's core finances. As an exercise, ask a member of your reservations team how much profit they think is generated from room sales, and it is likely that they will not know the answer. Most people respond well to targets, so find a whiteboard, write the figures on it, and make sure that everybody understands what they mean. Suddenly you have a sales team, and not just order-takers responding to customer enquiries.
3. Tools To Do The Job: What Does "Build a Rapport" Mean To You?
Premier Cru work closely with a mystery guest service who regularly make test calls to measure service levels and sales capabilities. One of the key points is to "build a rapport" with callers. At management level, this might sound simple, but think about like this: Understanding people's personalities is a difficult task when face-to-face. Over the telephone is twice as hard. Is the caller in in a hurry? Are they a hotel booking pro, or a nervous novice? This combined with a complicated PMS to navigate around, another call coming in, and a guest in front of you - all whilst you are expected to "build a rapport".
Don't assume that what comes easily to you, comes easily to everyone. In this example, a simple sentence such as "I am delighted you chose our hotel" would be enough to make the caller feel like you have taken a personal interest. If you have a reservations script, read it now, and see whether it is functional or friendly - if it only prompts for practical information, take some time to make it a more personable tool.
4. Confidence and Knowledge: Shall I book that for you?
When people call a hotel they want to book, they are aware that it will cost money, and need convincing to make that final commitment. As mentioned in the previous point, you need to give your sales team winning sentences to close a deal, be that something as simple as "Shall I book that for you?".
If you're not from a sales background, a hard sell is not a nice thing to do, especially if you're lacking confidence. You need your sales team to love their product so that they are not just selling a bedroom; they are helping somebody arrange a fantastic experience. Recommending a great restaurant to a friend is easy to do - of course there is a cost involved - but you mention it because you have had a great experience and want the people you love to try it too. This is what you need your sales team to do on every call, so make sure they've stayed in the hotel, eaten the food, and used all the facilities - so that they can use their first hand experience to convince the guests to do the same... at a price!
5. Feedback and Reward: Did I forget to say thank you?
Feedback comes more naturally if you adopt point 2 from this article, because good days and bad days will be tracked on your new whiteboard. Premier Cru have found that the pride of "owning" the figures generates it's own reward. To build on this, incentive based rewards can be an easy and speedy way to engage your sales team.
To combat points 4 and 5 in one go, make the rewards experiences in the hotel (or competitor hotels). A night away, a meal or a spa treatment is a fantastic incentive, and at the same time you are generating product knowledge and competitor awareness. It will only take a few months of seeing the direct impact of their work to change the culture of the office, and you'll hear a shift in the conversations as well, with team members talking in terms of money, and taking pride in securing a high value booking.
Premier Cru is a hotel management company with a team of industry experts, from Operations and Revenue Management to Sales, Marketing, Purchasing and much more. We have worked with a vast range of hotels from small country inns to Michelin Star restaurants and beyond. If any of the advice in the above article has sparked your interest, generated questions, or even hit a nerve, we would love to talk to you. Our services range from revenue management through to full management contracts.
Contact us on:
Gareth Pugh: 07711 259406
Iain Shelton: 07710 782188
Office: 0845 835 4592
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