Before VRMA National, our team made over 400 calls to a total of 84 properties. Our goal was to look beyond our clients—we already know how they are doing—to take the pulse of vacation rental reservations sales, locating the strengths and weaknesses of the industry and benchmarking so vacation rental professionals can compare how their team stacks up.
We measured ten areas including:
- the time it took to answer
- proper greetings
- interactive dialogue
- personalized conversation
- confidence in giving recommendations
- professionalism and courteousness
- asked for the reservation
- attempted to overcome objections
- offer to follow up
- proper closing
I commend many of the agents on their professionalism and courteousness. Of all the things measured, this was far and away the strongest trait across properties—with 72% of the calls successfully delivering on this element. This tells me that most managers have instilled in their agents that guest service begins before the guest arrives, and it starts with a natural, sincere, friendly tone.
The most surprising result was that only 9% of the agents we spoke with actually asked for the reservation up front. We all know that asking for the reservation once the right has been earned is essential, but making this happen appears to be quite another story. The training and practice necessary to help agents become comfortable and natural at asking are well worth it when you consider that the act of asking for the reservation increases the chances the guest will book by 440% (Hotel Marketing).
And it matters even if the guest is undecided or declines. If the guest isn’t sure, yet, the opportunity to ask for a follow-up is available. If the guest, during the initial request for the reservation, declines, the agent has an opportunity to overcome objections. Without knowing the answer to the simple question of whether she can book the reservation or not, these two essential pieces of the sales process are lost.
At NAVIS, with more than 400 VRM and hotel clients, we know that the top 3 areas that agents should focus on (which we call the “big 3”) are:
1). Interactive dialogue
Asks open-ended qualifying questions to understand the caller’s request. Practices active listening. Uses information discovered to build rapport, find the best property, and sell the experience.
2). Confidence and giving personalized recommendations
Gives personal recommendations and is excited about the product. States the value of the product before stating the price. Acts as the expert, has knowledge of the properties, demonstrates confidence.
3). Asking for the reservation
Asks for the sale after they have earned the right.
Time and time again, these 3 areas are what have helped our clients increase their inbound conversion rate, on average between 7-12% points. This, along with the addition of outbound selling practices (which if you’re not doing that yet, you should be), equates to an average of $4,000 in incremental revenue per unit, per year. For a 200-home vacation rental management company, this could amount to $800,000 in just 12 months.
The reality is that this level of performance improvement takes hard work and alignment from the entire team, but the rewards to the team and to overall performance are immediate.