You have an incredible luxury villa to rent; one that appeals to an exclusive vacation clientele. In other words, they probably want what you have got! But what could stand in the way of successful villa rentals and happy holidaymakers looking for a luxury villa? Your reservation team!
The golden gatekeepers of luxury villa rentals are your reservation team. The quality of your reservations staff and villa booking process makes all the difference, and either leads vacation seekers to your villa door. At the same time, a less than high-quality service is the equivalent of slamming the villa door in the face of sales and turning potential vacationers off and away.
What villa rental seekers need
When holiday goers are booking a hotel, they tend to check out a few details and then simply book in an instant. Luxury villa rental seekers are a little different. There are many more questions that need answering and therefore far more email exchanges before a booking confirmation. However, that does not mean that they want a long-winded process. They usually know what they want and want to make quick, direct decisions.
Remember, villa seekers will be looking at a few villas, so a quick response is essential. Your reservation team needs to adopt a sense of urgency, know the villa details inside-out, and understand the villa rental market and your business.
The 3 Golden Dealbreakers
Before you begin ticking off a checklist of reservation team must-haves, ensure that individuals in charge of your reservations have:
• Excellent Communication Skills – Luxury villa rentals are not about the ‘hard sell’. However, each reservation agent needs to be able to respond clearly in writing and when speaking on the phone. Talking to clients directly is often part of the reservation process. It goes without saying that an agent must be able to converse in the same language as your customers.
• Professional Approach – The quality of your villa and services is judged on the professionalism of your gatekeepers, your reservation team. An appropriate and helpful response moves a villa browser to a booked villa stay more easily.
• Intelligent Attitude – An innate intelligence is required to respond to different situations in the best way possible. Your reservation team do not need to have a degree in hospitality, but they absolutely do need to be savvy.
Reservation Team Must-Have Checklist
You will only create a strong reservation team if the right characteristics are in place to begin with. It is worthwhile to keep these points in mind when appraising existing reservation executives and hiring anew too.
• Personability – Being friendly, positive, and approachable gets your point of contact for villa rentals far. You want someone who makes would-be villa clients feel good too. It is easier and more satisfying for you and for clients to deal with a likeable personality.
• Analytical Skills – Often clients have a long list of detailed requirements. They know what they want. A good reservation executive will be able to analyze information and quickly pinpoint what your villa or even your villas have to offer. If a holidaymaker is looking for your style of villa, you need your reservation team to immediately understand that and respond.
• Natural Seller – Pushy sales do not work in the luxury market. After all, it is not a case of stacking in whomever, whenever. Instead, it is about attracting discerning clients who understand the benefits your villa can offer; finding the right match. There is a big difference between being charmingly persuasive and highlighting a villas USPs, to going in with an aggressive deal-closer. The goal is for villa seekers to trust you and want to deal with you.
• Proactive – Upbeat energy and a can-do attitude are essential characteristics in progressing an inquiry toward a booked villa reservation. So many points of contact for many businesses are too laissez-faire and laid-back, letting the client do all the hard work such as asking questions and making suggestions. A reservation team that pre-empt queries and can fill in the blanks make the process so much smoother.
• Attentive – An attentive approach to reservations is essentially engaging contacts by being helpful. An eye for detail is required and a sense of personal responsibility needs to be injected into communications. If an individual reservation executive does not take their role seriously and respect what they do, as well as the needs of the guests, then there is a disconnect which repels bookings.
• Passionate – A luxury villa holiday is a dream vacation. Reservation teams are selling a wonderful experience. Nothing dampens the imagination and dulls excitement than a less-than-enthusiastic reservation agent. Passion in providing a good service, the villa, and the location, as well as what a villa stay can deliver go beyond the veneer of a sunny personality.
• Results-Driven – Your reservations team may not be focused on hammering deals closed. However, there does need to be a catalyst to reach a specific goal, otherwise there is no impetus to drive forward reservations. You need your villa reservation team to have clear targets in place and the skills and tools to achieve the best results.
Test Your Team
The proof of a good reservation department is in your villa being booked. More than this, you want to see a good ratio or enquiries to bookings, great feedback, and also repeat bookings. A sudden increase in stays could be due to impressive sales techniques that do not deliver on other key elements. The simplest way to know your team is to test them:
• Product & Service Understanding – Give potential reservation recruits and rookies a set amount of time to gem up on all there is to know about your villa. Then set a task to write about what they know and perhaps include a knowledge test too. See if the writing is imaginative and pleasant or dull and lacking in detail.
• Phone Handling – Spend time observing a newly hired reservation executive and even established agents who may have fallen into bad habits. Are they asking the right questions? Are they polite? Did they suggest a follow-up call or other communication? Did they secure a booking?
• Mystery Villa Renter – Ask someone you know to act as a would-be client and to contact your reservations agent, just as companies hire mystery shoppers to test product knowledge and service. You could create ultra-demanding clients or holidaymakers with a complex list of requirements. With an added challenge, how do your reservation team measure up?
What is perhaps most important, is that you actually look at your reservations system in an honest and critical way. Sometimes, individuals can come across well in person but actually not deliver as well as you might imagine. At the same time, look at what you can offer to improve reservations. A badly designed villa website, low-quality marketing, and badly composed villa images make the job of reservations that much more difficult, not to mention working conditions, remuneration, and online connectivity. Help your team help you!
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