Customers Can Cancel Hotel Reservations, and It’s Important to Understand Why

As I tour reservations sales training for hotels, resorts, and call centers, I can take a look behind the scenes to see if and how today’s agents follow the lost booking opportunities these days.

Given the widespread use of technology-based revenue management and pricing systems, many readers would be surprised at how often agents don’t follow up.

Some of us remember that even decades ago, long before the term “yield management” came about in the mid-1990s, most of us were trained to manually collect what we called so “denial and regret”. There really is no excuse not to track this invaluable data, especially when most agents can collect this information either from a drop-down menu in their property management system or by tagging calls in their phone system. .

What’s worse is that many, if not most, of those who track these data points don’t do so as accurately. From what I see, this is usually not a problem of careless or lazy reservations staff, but rather a failure of revenue and marketing managers to create a usable list of codes and monitor their use “per agent”.

Let’s start by looking at the second problem first. It’s actually quite easy to monitor your team’s usage of your existing codes. Most systems generate a monthly “Agent Used Denial Codes” report. Then just spot-check code usage across the team over the course of 22 workdays per month, which should be split relatively evenly from agent to agent.

If you haven’t already, you’ll probably find that some agents use a very disproportionate number of denial codes. In other words, everyone probably has a “favorite” code they select automatically, usually the first or two in the list.

To remedy this, first explain to the team why this data is so critical to tracking demand, then set and adjust pricing and availability restrictions. Let the team know that you’ll be looking at it more closely in the future and will likely pay more attention to accuracy.

Now let’s return to the first problem preventing the collection of accurate data, namely that agents do not have a usable list of codes. Often agents are selecting from a list that is far too long, taking agents too long to sort through calls, or the labels for the codes listed are far too vague and confusing.

Here are some training tips for creating or editing your decline code list.

  • Strike a balance between creating enough code to accurately measure truly actionable data points and having a short enough list to make it work. Those with a “marketing” mindset will want to collect every data point imaginable, but the data collected will be inherently inaccurate.
  • Evaluate each code in the list to determine if the data collected will actually be actionable. For example, while it might be interesting to track how often callers decline to book due to rules and regulations such as a pet policy, minimum age policy, or due to construction of construction, unless you plan to stop construction, lower the minimum age or start accepting pets, collecting this information is generally unnecessary.
  • Make sure the difference between one code and another is something that can reasonably be accurately determined by an officer. For example, a recent client had both on his list: “Rate too high” and “No promotions”. Another customer had ‘decided to cancel’ and ‘changed their travel plans‘. Most callers will, at a minimum, not be that specific.
  • The actual number and labels of rate decline and availability codes will vary greatly depending on your inventory of accommodation types and rate “levers” you use, such as minimum stays, closed on arrival, and whether you propose a “fade”. /fallback rate” for voice callers.

If you don’t already have a process in place, here’s a basic list to get you started.

  • Denial – expressed that the rate was too high.
  • Refusal — minimum stay too long.
  • Denial — closed to arrivals.
  • Refusal — no availability.
    • For those with a large number of accommodation types that vary greatly in size or view:
      • Denial – availability – only more open.
      • Denial – availability – only smaller open.
  • Cancellation – found a lower rate elsewhere.
  • Cancellation — modification of plans.

By reviewing and updating your code list, and helping your team understand the vital importance of the details they collect, the end result will be more accurate and actionable data to fuel your revenue decision-making. and pricing.

Doug Kennedy is President of Kennedy Training Network, Inc. Contact him at [email protected].

The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Hotel News Now or the CoStar Group and its affiliates. Bloggers posted on this site are free to express opinions which may be controversial, but our aim is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our community of readers. Feel free to contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

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