A reservations agent who is on the phone right now with a prospective guest potentially has thousands of dollars on the line. Reservations agents have more influence on revenue every day than just about anyone on a property. Rarely, however, are they offered the kind of salary that goes with this responsibility—the valuable incentives that, say, a group sales person has, or even the comforts of an office. Our industry has long treated reservations agents as order takers, the waiters of the accommodations world, and as long as we continue to do so, reservations will never be as profitable as they could be.
What is a sales culture? Put simply, it’s an organization in which everyone is in sales and involved in the overall success of the property/properties. In our experience, topline revenue generated by reservations teams increases 30% when the culture shifts to support reservations agents as sales people, with increases of as much as $4,000 per room, per year. Agents who were once relegated to the basement become empowered, proactive, trained sales makers.
And how can your company create a sales culture? There are five key steps.
Step 1: Recruiting and Hiring
Setting expectations at the very beginning of a sales agent’s employment is essential to the long-term transition. Communicate the expectations and use metrics to monitor them. Of course, you also hire toward the expectations; instead of hiring reservations agents, hire sales people.
Step 2: Training
Reservations sales people must understand initial call flow and how to gather data from the call that can also be used for outbound follow up. Essential call flow includes using the proper greeting, personalizing and engaging with the guest, tailoring recommendations, and more. Training sales agents on scripts can also help them make the most of each call.
Step 3: Accountability & Performance Metrics
Establishing agent accountability is fundamental to the success of a sales culture transition, especially if you have sales agents transitioning in-house. Ensure agents understand what the performance metrics are, how to access them in the technology in order to see where they stand, and that they are non-negotiable. Develop a rollout plan to get your existing staff on board, as change management is imperative for this culture shift.
Step 4: Coaching
Coaching is all about motivating change. While it is related to training, it is actually more about ensuring the implementation of that training by keeping a team motivated and tuned in. Coaching is most effective when it is based on real calls with proper scoring.
Step 5: Fun
Inspiring change is so much easier and effective when it is fun. Create a mascot or a theme, brighten up the workspace, make it casual and fun to come to work, reward the team upon met goals, and be enthusiastic yourself.
Just five steps. They require attention and energy to implement, but the return is invaluable.
For an in-depth exploration of these five steps and more ideas about how to transition to a sales culture, download Transforming Reservation Inquiries to Profitable Sales.