Getting e-mail addresses key to boosting bookings

Posted June 20, 2010, at 9:07 p.m.

Your offline sales process starts on the phone but shouldn’t stop there.

Here is a strategy to increase your lodging reservations or bookings when communicating with a prospective customer over the telephone. You can implement an e-mail-marketing tactic that passes the prospect through your online sales funnel.

The benefits include a better form of communication with your client, the acquisition of their name and e-mail address to help convert the reservation and the ability to follow up with additional sales messages.

It all starts with you, your reservationists or staff. Below is a sample phone conversation made by a prospect to your business.

Step 1: The phone greeting. The goal is to acquire the prospect’s name.

Your business: “Hi, this is (your name) with (your business name). Who do I have the pleasure of speaking with today?”

The prospect: “Hi, my name is (client name). I am looking at booking a vacation from July 15 to July 20. Do you have any availability for this time period?”

Step 2: You have the name, now we get the e-mail address.

Your business: “I am sure we have availability, (client name). Before I check, may I have your e-mail address so that I may e-mail you the quotes and information, so after we talk you’ll have everything you need and you’ll have this all saved in an e-mail?”

If you feel hesitation, just say, “no worries, let me check the availability and I’ll be right with you.” Most people will provide you with their e-mail address.

The biggest benefit is for the prospect. I can’t tell you how many times I have called for reservations and written down the quotes and rates on the back of a napkin or piece of paper only to lose it later. The idea is that you deliver your quotes and pertinent information about your business to the traveler in a professional and easily readable format. E-mail is the best delivery system for your quotes.

I recommend you create a one-page Microsoft Word document that you can easily cut and paste into your e-mail program so that you can just add the information the prospect wants with additional information in the e-mail like your contact information.

You provide the prospect what he or she wants over the phone, then you follow up with what you said on the phone in an e-mail message that the prospect can then save, print out and refer too. The e-mail keeps you one step closer to the reservation or booking and will improve your chances of the reservation being made.

Add a signature in the e-mail that enables the client to click on a link in the e-mail to be added to your newsletter, specials or Hot Deals e-mail list. You can set up a click to be added to my newsletter feature in your e-mail marketing account. See my last column where I discuss the different e-mail marketing accounts and the features they can provide to your business.

Step 3: E-mail the prospect the quotes, rates and other pertinent information you discussed on the phone.

Step 4: Send an automated message to the prospect within 72 hours stating that you are just following up, requesting whether they need any more information from you to help them make their booking decision. Add a call-to-action by including a 15 percent discount for the prospect if they book a reservation with you within the next 48 hours.

I wanted to share a success story with you from a reader of this column. Arthur owns a restaurant and implemented the e-mail acquisition strategy I wrote about in the last two columns:

“Good morning, Mr. Zito! Here is my personal success story … This is so simple and effective. Everyone loves a free anything! I have printed, ‘Receive a FREE annual birthday and anniversary gift certificate! Upon signing up for our e-mail savings club at our restaurant, you get a bonus gift, an appetizer or dessert of your choice!’

“I have had so much response. I have two staff members working on this! Along with this, I had a staff incentive of whichever staff member collected 100 e-mail addresses or contact information would receive 100 dollars cash!

“Within 1 month I am up to 2,500 good contacts and growing who now receive a weekly text and or e-mail with my weekly in-house special!”

Matt Zito offers travel marketing advice to travel businesses and lodging properties through marketing reports and business consulting. His newest report, “10 Strategies, Ideas and Tips to GROW Your Maine Travel and Tourism Business in 2010,” is available at www.mattzito.com/maine. E-mail your travel and tourism marketing questions to mdz@mattzito.com.

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