This interview with Doug Kennedy of the Kennedy Training Network is part of the Convirza Webinar Series. The following is the Q&A portion of the presentation.
McKay: Awesome, thank you, Doug. That’s great information; we appreciate it. We do have a few questions, here, so I want to run through a couple of these with you real quick. First question, “What is the biggest mistake you hear when you go out and you train?” I mean what is the area of the call that people struggle with the most? Can you winnow it down to just one?
Doug: Well, the hardest thing we’re working on constantly is getting them to be able to describe their product, because very often they’re going back to “amazing”, “awesome”, “beautiful”. We’re taking people and teaching them how to use the reservation system, but we’re not always taking them on the product knowledge, and then how we describe it. And that is probably the hardest thing to train people on. It’s pretty easy to teach them to say, “Hey, can I reserve that for you?”
McKay: Why do you think it’s so hard for — is it a personality thing, is it a not having been taught thing — for people to ask, in a direct way that is not, you know, confrontational if someone . . .
McKay: . . . wants to book a room? Why is that so challenging and what do you do to fix that?
Doug: Well again, I really go back this idea that if you dig — it’s one thing that hasn’t changed in 20 years — that the most courteous personalities don’t want to be pushy. We do not want to be that stereotype of a salesperson. And when I throw out in my live groups, you know, “What do you think of?” Ninety percent of the time they all think, “used car salesperson”.
So, I think if you just remind them of all those people who call back when you didn’t get them to make the reservation, that are upset because the room or the option is gone. That’s how I try to address it.
McKay: I think your point is appropriate; they called you. It’s not like you’re prospecting them at their house. They called you specifically about your property, so might as well try to get them to stay at your property. It makes sense.
McKay: And then one final question, here, and this is a really good question, actually. Not that the other ones weren’t, this one just strikes me. “What are the best incentive programs you’ve seen in the industry to raise call conversion or raise ADR?”
Doug: Okay. Can we schedule another webinar for that one?
Doug: Well, tie it in to things that you can measure, and tie it in to factors that impacts revenue and profit. So for example, at call centers, depending on the operational model, it may not be all about revenue because they may take different accounts, in higher rated hotels versus their colleagues. But call centers usually can measure call conversion. For most hotels, and on-site reservations, and front desk, I would say revenue goal for the month, and then track, you know, if they achieve that goal, then they get a prize.
But if they go beyond the revenue goal, then you can feel comfortable paying out an incentive, because you’ve gone above and beyond. The biggest argument against incentive is, “We pay them to take calls anyway – that’s their job.” So that’s true, but we want to give them an incentive to go above and beyond what’s normal and expected.
So I would recommend a revenue goal, and then if that is achieved, then you celebrate. If it’s exceeded, you incentivize. If you do have a long-term booking pace, which is rare these days, but if people are booking three, four months out, you may make your incentive based on booking pace, not net, because you don’t want them to get their reward six months from now, in most cases.
And there’s exceptions to all this, but, McKay, if anyone has questions on incentives, let them definitely email me, Doug@KennedyTrainingNetwork.com, or you can just Google me and you’ll find. I would love to talk to anyone about incentives, because it is very different according to your environment.
McKay: That’s great, that’s good information. So we appreciate it, guys, we really do, thanks for your time. And Doug, thank you, and the information was great.
Doug: Thank you, McKay.
McKay: Have a good one, everybody, bye bye.