Hotel sales managers use the phone as an ally

Hotel sales managers know the phone's importance

Good hotel sales managers know how and when to answer the phone

When hotel sales managers look at the phone, a realistic analysis raises some concerns. We’re going to break this into categories. When a hotel sales manager is contacted, there are both inquiries and requests from clients calling you. It might be over the phone over over the hotel sales manager’s e-mail. It could be an individual customer contacting the hotel sales manager, or it could be a third part person. It could be a lead from your visitor’s bureau…well, it couldn’t be that, because we never get…

Just kidding! Some bureaus are extremely effective allies for the hotel sales manager. We tend to blame them for our problems and that’s not always accurate.

hotel sales manager on telephone

But back to the phone. We spend a lot of time studying the phone ringing in the hotel sales manager’s office. In my company we do, probably 55 or 60 test calls every month to different hotels out there: great big giant hotels, small little hotels, hotels with a lot of meeting space, hotels with zero meeting space, rooms only events… We’ve spent a lot of time with AT&T actually working on this — they’re the premiere students of the use of the telephone, so let’s start at the very beginning.

The phone rings at the office of the hotel sales manager and it’s an inquiry call. It’s not someone calling from upstairs wondering who will win the game this weekend, but it’s a bonafide customer. How many ringy-dingy’s should you allow before you answer that phone? Two and a half is exactly right. If you can answer the phone within the second and third ring, it demonstrates professionalism and credibility on the part of the hotel sales manager. It also makes you bona fide just by answering the phone within the second and third ring—you’re projecting an image of an administrative skills set that says I can answer the phone in a timely and efficient manner, you should be comfortable trusting your event, your business, your group, or your travelers with me. It’s a way to gain credibility early on. All you have to do to distinguish yourself from the competition is answer the phone.

The second best answer for the hotel sales manager to answer between the first and the second ring. However evidence shows that the customer is actually rushed a little bit, they’re still coughing, chewing smoking, drinking their coffee or tea or whatever it is, you’re actually a little too soon.

By the way, for fun, what do we call it when you answer the phone between the zero and the first ring? Desperate? Not very busy…

What do you call it when the phone hasn’t even rung and you answer it. We call it clairvoyant. I knew you were going to be calling! That would be ideal, but I don’t thing most hotel sales managers are quite up to it.

 But what happens on the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, fifteenth ring? It’s so bad; it’s about the worst image you can project. It says that I can’t even answer the phone in a timely and efficient manner, how could you possibly trust your business, group, event traveler to me? You can’t even be bothered to answer the phone in a timely and efficient manner.

The competent hotel sales manager should have the ability to make sure there is always someone there to answer the phone. This is sometimes more difficult in the smaller hotels. If you’re out on outside sales calls (which we agree that you should be), then who should be answering the phone when it rings in your office when you’re off property? Well, if you’re lucky enough to have a catering manager, you make sure they cover for you. Your general manager? Probably not as the customer might think the general manager has no better use of his or her time than to be answering the phones.

If you can help it, a good hotel sales manager really doesn’t want the missed call going into voice mail. Evidence suggest that if the customer knows you already, they probably do want your voice mail. They want to leave a message—but we have to give them that choice.

More about this next week…

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Posted 9/24/12

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