Remember 20+ years ago, when guests could only book your hotel via phone, your brand’s 1-800 number, the brand website and your own website?
Ahhhh…The good old days when you got to keep 100% of the rate. (Except when a Travel Agent booked for the guest and then you simply had to a pay a bargain 10% commission.)
Then, the OTA’s came into the picture around 1996-97 claiming anywhere from 15-30% commissions.
Allow me to run through the brief history of how the marriage or shall I say dysfunctional marriage between hoteliers and OTA’s has transpired. At the time of this writing, I am 50 years old. I have personally observed this landscape change and continually transform.
In the beginning, I remember being a Front Office Manager and being fined by my brand franchisor for violations of lowest rate guarantee. It was a learning curve as us Hoteliers were trying to navigate around this new technology of its time.
Rate Parity Policies and its related processes have certainly become more streamlined. Online Travel Agencies have come and gone, yet most have been merged to form a few powerhouses.
There is really no need to look back on additional historic points as to how we arrived on the scene today; both OTA’s and Hotels are here to stay. The real question is how we can co-exist and how can we as hotelier’s drive more guests to book direct which is our most profitable booking channel.
The OTA’s of the world are becoming ever so much more cleaver at grabbing the attention of the guests we eventually host. OTA Loyalty programs are just one example. Another would be the Millions of Dollars spent on advertising to lure our potential guests into using their services.
One strategy that absolutely confuses consumers is Google AdWords Campaigns that populate an OTA over a Branded Website. Here is one example: A guest googles “Brand X in City Y” and a listing pulls up in the #1 spot. They proceed to call the 1-800 attached, or book direct online thinking they are working directly with the property when in fact they are booking through an OTA.
At the Hotel that I own and Manage, I see this happening several times each week. Guests will swear to me that they called my hotel direct and booked their room. Why can’t they cancel with me directly? Why did they not get the specific room type they thought they would get?
There are three specific strategies that I think us as Hoteliers should implement in order to pull our guests back offline and back to booking with us direct:
The relationship that we as Hoteliers and OTA’s have isn’t the perfect marriage made in heaven, but we can make the best of it by taking even a small percentage of our guests back Offline and back to booking with us direct. It is time that us hoteliers put more money back into our own pockets!
Jay Hartz, CHA is the Owner of the Hotel Pattee as well as the Owner of Next Generation Revenue Per Available Room, LLC which is a Training and Consulting Firm. Both are based out of Central Iowa. Jay can be reached at email@example.com. Visit www.nextgenrevpar.com to learn more about his Training Programs.
One of the benefits of being a franchisee is ongoing training and support. Employee development might take place at the annual conference, webinars, online training, or onsite visits from your Area Manager These touch points of guidance are often educating your team on the “Brand Initiatives,” along with brand technology, support, and using the Brand Portal. This training is vital to your success, as it helps you leverage the value of your Brand and maximize your ROI.
A New Approach to Selling
In my experience, the sales training provided by most brands, on the other hand, is often outdated and simply repetitive from year to year, or even decade to decade. There are many reasons why one should consider a new way of selling in today’s market. These reasons include:
How else can I say it? It is time for a change with the sales process in our industry. Everything else has and continues to change in our world, yet, we as operators tend to be content with our Brand’s Sales Training. You see, most Brand training doesn’t teach our sales team the most important rule of selling: Owning a Selling Model.
A Selling Model is focused not on your brand, but on your team’s ability to close more deals and increase revenues. This model provides an organized and consistetent systematic selling structure that puts your Sales Manager in control of the selling process. The end result? Consistently closing more deals and constantly improving your team’s selling skill set to ensure this happens more often!
A Major League Sales Team
Let’s take a moment to compare your sales team to that of a Major League Baseball player who is paid millions of dollars each season to play on a particular team. As a general rule, even the best and highest paid players don’t bat above 350. What does that mean? In short, he has a successful hit 35% of the time. Do you think he tries a new batting technique each time he comes up to bat or do you think he continues to fine tune his batting strategy to improve his results?
The baseball profession has batting coaches who are constantly working with each player to improve their batting average. The baseball players don’t go to a “Batting Conference” once a year and expect to make it all season long. These Major League ball players have been batting since they were toddlers, yet they still require daily coaching.
The same approach should be taken for your Professional Hotel Sales People. Attending an industry training session or annual conference is great, but who is their coach when they get back home? Are they really learning a proven model for improving their “batting average” in the hotel sales world?
Differentiate Your Team
In order to stand above in today’s overbuilt and overcrowded industry, there is a way that your sales team can differentiate themselves, your property, and increase revenues. The solution is two-fold: First is it learning and embracing a new selling approach and unlearning the selling methodologies of your past. The second step is to master your new selling model and continually work that system to ensure a long-term professional career. It is worth repeating from above: A Selling Model should be an organized and consistetent systematic selling structure.
That, my friend, is where the fork is in the road. As a 30+ year veteran in the hospitality field, too often I have seen owners/executives view training costs as an expense and not an investment. I have also observed those companies who invest in their sales team rise to the top.
My recommendation to you: Invest in your sales team with training that is conducted outside of the 4 walls of your Brand. The return on your investment will be worth it!
Jay Hartz, CHA is the Owner of Next Generation Revenue Per Available Room, LLC and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Visit his website at www.nextgenrevpar.com too learn more about the Hartz Selling Model and to receive his Free 14 page White Paper on this subject.