Front Desk Staff As A Distribution Channel

Your front desk staff is a gold mine for extra revenue. With a little bit of training, they can be trained to convert enquiry calls into bookings. More importantly, being the ones who deal with the guest on a one-on-one level, they are well placed to get repeat visitation.

Hotel Marketing expert, Doug Kennedy, explores the role that front office staff play in your distribution strategy, why you cannot ignore them and how you can make this all-important channel work harder to get the bookings.

Hotel revenue managers and marketing executives have a constant struggle to stay up to date on the changing roster of distribution channels. The electronic distribution landscape is ever –changing, thanks to the mergers of existing players (like Orbitz and Expedia, for example). Likewise, the list of new entrants continues to grow (with new offerings from TripAdvisor and Amazon).

However, one often overlooked channel that continues to produce is the front-desk team working in your lobby right now.

While hotel investors bemoan the substantial growth in the “cost of customer acquisition,” the great news is that with a little training on profit optimization, your front-desk team can both find new guests and also decrease distribution costs for repeat guests. Here are some examples.

The front desk team can decrease distribution costs by:

1. Avoiding transferring calls off-site to the brand (or third-party) call center.

Whether you are part of a brand or use a third-party call center, there is typically either a flat rate per call charge or a commission. If you ask most managers they will tell you that the front desk is only supposed to flip calls offsite when they are busy. However, being in the front-desk mystery shopping business, I can tell you for sure that calls are often transferred when it is not necessary to do so. Make sure your team is aware of the hard costs and also consider implementing a small incentive for every booking they secure.

(Note: If your hotel has on-site reservations this is also an opportunity, as experience shows that calls are often transferred unnecessarily even when the office is staffed. Ironically, instead of fielding calls they are often busy entering—or proofreading—third-party extranet bookings. Addressing this issue can save call center booking costs and also improve your call conversion, as on-site agents should be able to convert at a higher level than central reservations.)

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