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Front desk training is the key to capturing more walk-in business
Unfortunately, the hotel industry overall does a less than adequate job of selling to walk-ins. Typically, the car pulls up out front and someone gets out; sometimes it's the mom, sometimes it's the dad, sometimes it's the 12 year old kid. Regardless of who it is, they all ask the same question: "How much are your rooms?" All too often associates simply say "$99 a night." Nothing more is mentioned other than price. And what's the worst mistake you can make in sales? Quoting a price without demonstrating value.
When you stop to consider it, the walk-in sales opportunity provides the hotel with some significant advantages over other distribution channels. For one, the sales person can visually evaluate the guests needs and wants. Are they dressed as if on a business trip, or on vacation? What is their age? Are they traveling alone or with family? What is their level of commitment; do they park the car and walk-in with luggage, or do they just run in to find out the price?
A second advantage is that the sales prospect can see the product firsthand and is able to formulate a first impression. (This is why it is critical for hotels to maintain curb appeal.) Another significant advantage in selling to walk-ins is that it takes more effort for the prospect to shop around. It's harder to get back in the car and drive down the road than it is to click on the next Internet link or to dial the phone number of the next property.
In addition to training your front desk to utilize these and other sales techniques, it's also important to measure the results both individually and on a department-wide basis. If your property management system allows, assign a special source code to walk-ins. Otherwise, create a form to manually record your results. Of course, you'll also want to challenge your staff's competitive spirit by posting the results on a "daily," MTD, and YTD basis, and then to celebrate your success via staff recognition and/or incentive programs.
By employing the basic sales principles for capturing walk-ins, your front desk team can help your hotel maximize it's market share even in a down market.
His articles have also appeared worldwide in more than 17 prominent international publications including the HSMAI Marketing Review, eHotelier, 4hoteliers, Hotel News Resource, Hotel Online, Human Assets - Dubai and Hong Kong, Hsyndicate worldwide, BAHA Times – U.K., Hospitality – Maldives, and the Hotel Expert Magazine Hong Kong. Since 1996 Doug has been a regular contributor to the lodging industry's number one rated publication, www.hotelmotel.com , where he has been a regular monthly columnist since 2001. Visit www.kennedytrainingnetwork.com for details or e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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