The Direct Channel is Your Top Revenue Source; Two Leading Operators Discuss 5 Proven Strategies That Increase Direct Channel Success
December 17, 2014 – The direct channel is the top source of revenue for many full service hotels and resorts. Metrics tell the story: According to an AHLA – STR study, more than 8 in 10 room nights were booked through the direct channel (voice channel). Further, according to a 2013 Marchex Institute study, despite the increase in travel searches conducted on mobile devices, consumers prefer to book their stay directly with a reservation agent. Are you tracking your call center performance? If you are looking for ways to increase revenue, optimizing direct channel operations is a great way to start.
Two leading resort companies, JC Resorts and Woodstock Inn, shared their strategies on how to optimize the direct channel for maximum return.
1. Professional Training Supercharges Direct Channel Conversion
Are your agents reservation takers or reservation makers? Agents who are professionally trained and coached in sales techniques significantly boost conversions at JC Resorts, says Lindsay Myers, Assistant General Manager at the Surf and Sand Resort in Laguna Beach, California; one of the company’s four luxury properties. Myers also manages JC Resorts’ call center. JC Resorts’ properties include Surf & Sand Resort, a Conde’ Nast Reader’s Choice Award winner; Rancho Bernardo Inn, a 2013 and 2014 Travel & Leisure World’s Best; Temecula Creek Inn, a luxurious wine country escape; and Scripps Inn, a charming bed and breakfast in the heart of La Jolla, California.
JC Resorts installed the NAVIS Narrowcast reservation sales and marketing system in October 2013. The detailed information the NAVIS system captures about incoming calls lets agents personalize the conversation and develop an informed, helpful relationship quickly. A NAVIS Client Advocate (CA) provides on-site sales coaching for JC Resorts’ agents upon implementation and regularly monitors performance to keep the call center on track with its sales goals and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
“NAVIS Narrowcast and sales training improved our agents’ conversion rate by 9%,” says Myers. “The system records each agent’s calls. We listen selectively to calls and coach agents on how to improve their service and closing skills. This helps our team continually improve their performance and increase revenue for our properties.”
2. Collect Data on Incoming Calls for Outbound Sales
Even the best call centers miss calls during high-volume periods. Effective operators turn these abandoned calls into ‘hot lead’ sales opportunities. “If we miss a call, the last thing we want is for a caller to reach out to another property before we can follow up. Our reservation system captures inbound call information so we can return calls quickly,” says Diane Walker, revenue manager for Woodstock Inn & Resort in Vermont. The 142-room luxury resort boasts an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones golf course, LEED certified spa, ski mountain, racquet and fitness center, and indoor/outdoor tennis.
Woodstock Inn installed the NAVIS system five years ago. “NAVIS Narrowcast gives us the names and phone numbers for missed calls so our agents can follow up quickly with an outbound call to convert the business,” Walker said. She notes that Woodstock Inn rolls over calls to NAVIS RezForce, a professional reservation call center, to capture after-hours business with a “very high” conversion rate.
JC Resorts’ Myers added that focusing quickly on not-booked-leads yields positive results. “NAVIS Narrowcast allows our leisure sales agents to easily request and capture information from a guest that we do not convert on the first call. A concierge-style follow up has been instrumental in our game plan. One of our properties generated $250,000 in increased outbound call revenue in one year,” she says. “Guests value our personal, proactive follow-up to answer questions and provide information.”
3. Increase Conversion with Accurate Performance Measurement
Accurate measurement of call center volume, conversion and revenue generated by each call is the foundation for creating and attaining realistic performance goals. JC Resorts does just this. “We increased ADR 7% across all of our properties. We evaluate call data to see which agents are applying effective processes to meet their performance and conversion goals,” explains Myers. “JC Resorts also uses its reservation system to route calls to specific agents based on skill level and the last person a guest spoke with. Additionally, calls can be routed by department. People seeking driving directions go to guest services, freeing up reservation agents’ valuable selling time.”
4. Collect Call Metrics for End-to-End Campaign Tracking and to Set Staffing Levels
Woodstock Inn uses the NAVIS system to assign a unique call-in number for each marketing campaign. That number appears on the NAVIS Narrowcast screen so agents are prepared to answer specific questions based on the campaign a caller is responding to. “The unique phone number also lets us track booking revenue generated by each marketing campaign. This helps us more effectively invest our marketing budget,” says Myers. “Most PMS systems don’t provide detailed call tracking and performance reporting, but all revenue managers know they need it,” says Walker. “NAVIS Narrowcast interfaces with our property management system so we can see all stay revenue generated by call center conversions both on property and through RezForce. It is a huge benefit to understand which campaigns and promotions are most successful. We also use this data to staff our reservations office based on call volume.”
5. Reservation Agent Incentives and Training are the Secret Sauce
“Sales commissions are a huge motivator for our agents,” Walker said. “NAVIS helped us refine our 2014 commission plan to accomplish our performance goals.” NAVIS professionals trained Woodstock Inn’s reservation agents to listen closely to guests and more effectively provide the information they requested. “The professional coaching definitely increased our conversion,” said Walker.
Tags: navis, reservation sales system, direct channel, conversion rate, narrowcast
NAVIS sales and marketing solutions empower resorts, hotels, and vacation rental management companies to leverage the full profit potential of their direct channel. NAVIS hospitality clients drive more demand, capture more demand, and convert more demand with dramatic increases in revenue and RevPAR. With a laser focus on actionable, real-time CRM data from the direct channel, NAVIS uncovers new and often ignored revenue opportunities, including increased reservations productivity, greater marketing efficiencies, call center optimization, and greater visibility into their businesses. NAVIS clients outperform competitors, enjoy greater market share, higher NOI, and more revenue. Click HERE to find out what NAVIS can do for you.