I was reading an article today by one of my favorite hotel sales authors, and stumbled upon a phrase that inspired me to explore why it is important that we as hotel sales people keep ourselves up-to-date on the happenings of our communities/areas and where people might want to go while they are in town.
“Help them understand that although we charge guests for the room,
what guests “buy” is an overall experience of your hotel and also your destination.”
(Since the quote above is out of context, I should identify that the “them” are the front desk associates and sales persons.)
How many times has a customer inquired about “where they should go to eat nearby?” Or, “where is the closest place I can get a [insert a product here]?” And how many times have you or your front desk staff indicated that they really don’t know because you live across town, or in another town? I venture that it is more common place than you think.
The sales edge that our properties must have, is to be the most savvy about not only our HOTEL but about what is GOING ON and where TO GO!
There are several ways to achieve this feat…..
- Challenge your Front Desk Staff to build up/refresh your concierge information. When was the last time you went through the files of old brochures and “stuff” collected about eateries, attractions, and festivals? (Please don’t ever point them to the dreaded “brochure rack”!)
- Build a menu book and keep it fresh. Categorize it by genre, by location, and by services (i.e. do they deliver, are they open late, etc.) Make sure you have it in a binder or scrapbook and not just a bunch a stuff in a file folder. It needs to be user friendly.
- Open a “digital file” on your business center computer and save it in a desktop file folder! Think about using a digital picture frame that rotates pictures or menus that the customer can watch during check-in!
- During your morning stand ups, challenge your associates to talk about places to go from their experience! Have them call nearby attractions and ask for passes so they can get first hand experience. Knowledge is power!
- If you have associate gatherings, order from nearby restaurants so you can test the food first hand. Call local restaurants and ask for menus, samplings, or certificates for your associates to test the product so they can refer from the first person perspective!
- Teach them how to “recommend”. For example, I don’t each red meat; but when a customer asks me to recommend a steak house I would never say, “I am sorry – I don’t eat steak so I can’t help.” What I might say is, “while I haven’t tried the steak at XYZ restaurant myself, my colleagues really enjoy the porterhouse; I myself enjoy their shrimp scampi!”. Never once did the customer need to know that I don’t eat steak but yet I am able to recommend AND speak from experience! Remember, recommendations are about YOU…. your guests are trusting that you are listening to them and have their best in mind. This is the difference between average service and WOWING the customer.
In this world of competitive hotel products, where you sit right next door to your competition – you need to “stand out in the crowd”. We all offer similar products and amenities. SERVICE is what is going to make your hotel the preferred venue.