Being in the vacation rental reservations mystery shopping business, it is interesting to hear the descriptions that frontline agents provide when asked for information about their various accommodations.
Those who have not been specifically trained to properly handle such questions tend to respond in one of three ways:
- Some sound surprised that a guest would ask questions about the rental accommodation itself and/or its amenities, services and facilities. Many of these agents are Millennials or Gen X-ers who might wonder why a guest would not just go online themselves to find this information. They fail to recognize the interplay of electronic and voice channels and do not understand that some callers dont trust the information they have read online and instead seek reassurance. When asked for general information such as What is there to do in the area? these agents sound annoyed and offer up a list such as, Theres a beach and lots of bars, restaurants and shopping. When asked What is this home like? these agents often say, Its a 1,600 square foot three bedroom two and a half bath home with a fully equipped kitchen and a balcony with a view or even worse, by saying, Its your basic beach condo.
- Other agents respond with a 30-second commercial read as-is from the reservations system, which ends up sounding like a scripted message on hold and is not personalized to the callers story or situation.
- Still other agents make an honest attempt to describe the home, but lack the training to paint just the right picture in the minds of callers and planners. Instead they simply list generic features.The problem with this approach is that they do nothing to differentiate one vacation home from another, nor one rental company from its competitors. Since most homes in the same category or classification offer the same types of services and amenities, descriptions such as these make it sound just like all of the others on their list from the company website or other online listing websites.
Instead, todays vacation rental agents need to be trained to understand that when it comes to information, the balance of power has shifted to the callers side of the equation. Most have been online prior to calling; many are online while they are on the phone. As a result, todays vacation rental reservations colleagues need to be trained to provide descriptions of their accommodations, amenities and area attractions and services that go beyond listing the same facts the caller has likely read online.
Instead, they need to first ask the right questions to determine where the caller is at in their decision making process and what details they need to hear to make their buying decision. A key question from our new Reservations Sales QUEST program is: As Im checking those dates for you, may I ask if you have any questions I can answer about this home or its amenities and services? This question allows agents to un-mask the story behind the callers plans and to determine what to say next to convince them to stop searching and start booking right now.
Remember: It is not our job to help them find out what is available; it is our job to help them decide right now instead of going back online.
Once they find out what the caller needs to hear and why they have called instead of just booking online, reservations sales agents can then provide personalized descriptions that go beyond listing, informing and notifying to instead allure and entice the caller and to appeal to their emotional desires not just their intellect. Lets face if callers booked a home based on an intellectual decision alone, it would most likely be all about the price, since on the surface most vacation homes have similar offerings as their competitors in the same classification.
So I ask you to ask your team, is yours just another rental unit? Is it just like all the others? Or is there something special that makes it stand out from its competitors? For complimentary access to an excerpt from KTNs Reservations Quest video on this subject visit this link to our Kennedy Training Network YouTube channel.
Here are some training tips for your next vacation rental reservations meeting:
- Make sure your team understands the importance of asking the right investigative questions, such as the example above, to clarify the callers needs and to find out what they need to hear.
- Have the team brainstorm a list of the various types of vacations that your guests are experiencing on any given day.
- Then have participants list out the primary area activities, attractions, and services that would be of interest to each type.
- Ask the group to work individually or in teams to brainstorm a list of visually and emotionally stimulating words that could be used to describe features that are common to most of your vacation homes in order to evoke imagery in the minds of the caller.
- Have the group work individually or in teams to write out benefit statements that include these visual and emotionally descriptive words.
- Finally, have the group practice role-playing the use of these statements for the various types of callers they hear from daily.