When All You Have Left Is All You Have Left, Don't Say 'All I Have Left Is...'
By Doug Kennedy
Saturday, 19th June 2010
With Both STR and PKF updating their recent forecasts to reflect increases in both occupancy and ADR, as thus are seeing increases in RevPAR and profits, many hotels and resorts will find unexpectedly high demand for the remainder of the calendar year. 

This is especially true for destination beach resorts on the Atlantic Seaboard this summer, many of which are already near capacity especially on weekends as are resorts in other locations ranging from Las Vegas to Orlando.  Even corporate hotels are now facing more high demand, mid-week dates.

While this is all great news for our industry, it is also time to prepare your reservations and front desk sales agents to properly handle last minute calls for high demand dates.   The key to maximizing profits and ensuring the "perfect sell out" is to make sure your agents properly market the last available room options as still offering a good value.

Unfortunately all too many hotel managers  do not train their agents on how to handle this circumstance. As a result, when searching high demand dates most agents inadvertently instead say "All I have left is…"  or worse yet, even apologize in saying "Unfortunately all I have left is…" 

This is often said in reference to a rate category, such as when lower-tier discounted rates have been closed out and only the top tier – rack rates – remains available.  Other times it is said in reference to a category of accommodations, which typically ends up being either the highest rated categories (such as one, two or more bedroom suites), or the less-desirable room types such as ADA compliant rooms, smoking categories, or limited/non view rooms.

The end result is that the statement "All we have left is…" diminishes whatever is to follow.  If said in reference to a rate, it implies that something lower was available previously.   If in reference to an accommodation type or category, it makes what's left sound like "leftovers." 

If you've not yet addressed this topic, or if you are looking for some good reminders for your team during peak season, here are some training tips for your next meeting:

Replace "All we have left is…" with "Fortunately we do have some great options that are still available for you during that time…" or "Fortunately we still have our deluxe rooms open for you…" 

Sometimes it is the least-desirable accommodations that are left.  In this case it is important to first point out any glaring deficiencies such as:

  • "Just to let you know, this room is a little smaller than most of our others, and it has a walk-in shower instead of a bathtub…" 
  •  "Although this room does not face the water view…."
  • "Now this suite is located away from the main building where your meeting is…"
In doing so you will be sure to manage the guests' expectations upon arrival, yet you will want to continue on to add some value…

Point out what is good about the remaining accommodations.  After notifying them of any obvious shortcomings, continue on to inform the guests about the advantages of what you still have  open for them.

  • "This room is a little smaller than most of the others, but you still have all the same amenities and services and of course access to all the resort activities."
  • "Although the room does not face the water, many of our guests enjoy the resort view so that you can watch the activities while sitting out on your patio or balcony."
  • "Now this suite is located away from the main building, so it will be a bit of a walk to your meetings, but the good part is that it is a much more quiet and private setting…"
  • "Since it's just the two of you I know you don't really need a two bedroom suite, but I'm sure you'll love having the extra living space and the large master bathroom featuring…"
Don't assume guests cannot afford or would not want the top-tier categories.  When it comes to the last remaining availability, it is ironically the very best options that are left, such as specialty suites.  Instead of sounding like we are apologizing by saying "All we have left is our Governor's Suite," quote the option with confidence as you would any other.  Seasoned veterans know it is often the caller we would least expect to do so who simply says, "Okay, that sounds good, let's go with that."  As experienced sales agents know, it is just a matter of time until you get past enough "no thanks" until you hear someone say "Okay, that sound perfect."

When discount rate categories have been closed out by your revenue manager, instead of saying "The rate in that advertisement is not available" try saying "The special rate is sold out at that time, are your dates flexible?  I would be glad to see when that advertised rate is available,  or  I can check the lowest rates that are open for these dates for you."

By reviewing these training tips and discussing this topic with your reservations and/or front desk sales team, you'll be providing your agents with the tools they will hopefully be needing more and more into the future as our industry continues its recovery.

Founded in 2006, Kennedy Training Network (KTN) is the lodging industry's best source for training programs and services in the topic areas of reservations sales, hospitality and guest service, and front desk revenue optimization. Services including customized, on-site training workshops, private, individual hotel team webinars, and reservations/front desk mystery shopping assessment and coaching reports.

Additionally, KTN is also a resource for conference keynote and break-out sessions for management companies, brands, and associations.

For more information, visit www.kennedytrainingnetwork.com for details or e-mail doug@kennedytrainingnetwork.com
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