DirectoriesAdd Your Business
News Archive Search
Training tips for hotel spa reservations
By Doug Kennedy
Having spent most of my career presenting sales training for hotel front desk and room reservations agents, it has been interesting these last few years to see an increasing number of upscale hotel and resort spa managers reaching out for the same type of sales and guest service excellence training.
When you think about it, it makes complete sense as they face many of the same challenging call scenarios as hotel front desk and reservations agents. Examples include callers who:
Further, although some hotel and resort spas offer online booking options, as of this writing the majority require the guest to call in advance to schedule their treatment or therapy.
So it is wise that today's spa directors are realizing that those who answer the phones at the spa front desk need to move from being "order-takers" to consultative sales advisors. Rather than re-stating the same list of treatments and therapies that the guest has most likely already seen online, today's frontline colleagues need to see their goal as being to help the caller finalize their decision and commit to making a reservation right now.
Unfortunately, what our KTN call coaches all too often find when we first being telephone mystery shopping for new spa clients is that the front desk agents who answer the phones see their role as appointment makers and not consultative advisors. More often than not when our mystery shoppers start off with statements such as "Hello, I'm planning to visit your spa when I'm in town with my mother next month..." or "Hi, I'm going to be staying at your resort for a girlfriends' getaway..." we hear them respond with statements such as:
Instead, spa directors should be training their agents to take control of the call and to initiate a personalized conversation with statements and questions such as: "Certainly, I can assist you with those plans. May I ask you a few questions to help me better assist you with scheduling your visit?" This allows the agent to manage the flow of the conversation and also puts them in the role of "consultative advisor" versus "order-taker / appointment-maker."
Some training tips from our KTN spa reservations training programs
As with all hospitality industry telephone sales calls, agents should welcome guests with a genuine and authentic sounding greeting, spoken slowly and with enthusiasm.
Next, it is important to use an Investigative Selling Process to fully understand "the story" behind the caller's plans:
1. Spa front desk agents should listen with empathy to the caller's opening remarks, making it interactive by re-stating the caller's remarks such as, "Oh, a girlfriends getaway vacation, now that sounds fun!"
2. Similarly, they should also use the information they again from listening actively to fully understand the situation or circumstance for which the caller is making plans. There is a big difference between a caller who is bringing her mom for a mother/daughter getaway to reconnect, and the caller who is bringing her mother who has just completed a series of chemotherapy treatments or to celebrate the 5th anniversary of being cancer-free.
3. After asking a question similar to the example from the paragraph above, agents should ask additional questions that are specific to the caller's situation or "story" such as:
Having discovered details about "the story" behind the caller's plans, spa front desk agents need to be properly trained to use descriptions of treatments and therapies that are alluring and enticing. Instead, when our KTN mystery shoppers call our newest clients, we tend to hear agents that simply list the facts such as "With the hot stone massage the therapist places hot stones on your back after giving you a massage" or "With the deep tissue massage, the therapist will press more deeply than with the traditional massage option."
Instead, spa front desk agents should use descriptions that include alluring words that evoke imagery in the caller's mind and that appeal to emotions versus intellect. It is easy to provide your team with a word list that includes language such as "invigorating," "stimulating," "relaxing," and "revitalizing." Yet having the list of descriptive words alone will not provide the skills needed for personalized conversational selling. Similarly, if all the spa director does is provide written descriptions to read that were put together by the Public Relations or Marketing team, the spa front desk agents will sound like scripted robots who spew out the same information to all callers.
Instead, spa managers should first have the team brainstorm their own list of alluring and enticing words, and then to each put those words together into sample phrases they would feel comfortable using to describe the various treatments or therapies to real-world callers. They should then role-play using these descriptions for various types of call "stories" during the training.
Finally, when our mystery shoppers call the spa front desk staff of new clients who have not yet been trained, we rarely hear them encouraging callers to commit to making a spa reservation right now. Instead we usually hear them say "Okay, well thanks for calling," or perhaps "If you do want to reserve an appointment, give us a call back. We are here from 9am until 7pm." Instead, spa front desk agents should offer to secure the appointment right now with statements and questions that create urgency such as:
This will ensure that the caller gets the treatment they want, during the time frame when they wanted it, and with the gender of therapist that they preferred. If spa front desk agents don't secure the appointment during the first call, the guest may call back later to find that the only open times are earlier or later than their original preference. Or worse yet, they might wait until they are in-house only to find that the spa schedule is entirely booked, thus resulting in a complaint to the hotel manager or a negative online Facebook comment.
By training your spa front desk reservations team on techniques for consultative selling such as these, you will not only generate more spa revenue, but you will also provide more fulfilling guest experience that will result in positive guest reviews and social media postings.
About the Author
Doug Kennedy is President of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. a leading provider of customized training programs and telephone mystery shopping services for the lodging and hospitality industry. Doug continues to be a fixture on the industry’s conference circuit for hotel companies, brands and associations, as he been for over two decades. Since 1996, Doug’s monthly hotel industry training articles have been published worldwide, making him one of the most widely read hotel industry training authors in the world. He is the author of Still On The Road to Sales and Guest Service Excellence.
Visit our sponsors