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Secrets to Successful Handling of Country Inn Travel Club Reservations
We have collected a number of secrets from innkeepers who profited from former promotions and kept customers happy.
Some innkeepers set aside a certain number of rooms for Country Inn Travel Club guests – as airlines do with discounted fares. However, to be successful you must be flexible. If it appears that the inn is going to fill up early, the number of rooms set aside can be reduced. And vice-versa, if reservations are slow the number of rooms available can expand. When a Club Member comes at the last minute, it may be better to book them rather than let the room stay empty.
Use a color marker on the reservation book to indicate if a Country Inn Travel Club member has been booked. When the number of designated rooms accepted for that day or week is reached, then, depending on conditions, you can decide to add discounted rooms or not accept any additional discount reservations for that day or week. If the inn is filling up fast and pressure is on to rent the set aside discount rooms to non-discount customers, then you easily can reduce the number of discount rooms available.
Think in Terms of Yield
An empty room yields $0.00 – nothing! Actually less than nothing, because it costs you just to keep the empty room available. You have invested much in your inn. Therefore your best payoff comes when it produces the maximum yield. To find out how much it is yielding now, divide total annual revenues by the total number of room nights available in one year. This is your annual yield-per-room. Hoteliers will look for ways to reduce the number of zero nights by offering incentives to customers. The Country Inn Travel Club is an ideal way to fill up those empty beds and increase the annual yield-per-room.
Offer Your Best Rooms
During off-peak times average room rates can be increased by encouraging your discount customers to take the most expensive rooms. Two things happen here. (A) cash flow is increased by the higher yield produced by the more expensive room. (B) The customer feels like they were given first-class treatment and may want to return to this “special place” in the future or tell their friends about it.
If you have plenty of rooms and few guests coming in, an upgrade may be just the magic needed to make the customer feel like they are given special care, thus selling them on your “special place” and encouraging them to return and/or tell their friends about you.
Understand “Subject to Availability”
Here is another reservation problem. The customer finds out you have rooms available and then tells you they are a Club Member. If you know that these rooms could and will be sold at full price, how would you respond? In other words, “Subject to Availability” kicks in. If you have designated a certain number of rooms for the program and they are filled, then it is easier for the customer to accept. You may tell him all your Travel Club rooms have been filled for that day or week. One innkeeper suggested saying something like, “Our Travel Club quota has already been met for that time, perhaps you could come next Monday?...next month?” She also engaged them with the inn experience so much that they OFTEN found a way to stay on the other end of their trip.
Treat Discount Customers with Respect
By honoring the Club Memberships you are making an investment for the future for your business. Therefore, be certain that guests don’t feel slighted because they are using this offer. People who use the Club Membership have invested a bit of effort in sending away for them with the hope of a good and happy welcome from the innkeepers. And when guests choose your inn from the many others included in the Club Membership book, they really want to come and enjoy your hospitality. If you ever find yourself feeling less than welcoming it is a useful sign that you might not want to continue in the program.
We have received countless notes from happy guests telling us how greatly they enjoyed their stays. The inns that have profited the most from this promotion recognize the true value of their investment by honoring the Club Members with good will and cheer.
"Of all the associations I am a member of you are the most out front and progressive of them all. I guess this is why I have been a member since 1995ish…..this is my 21st year! Bravo to you!!!!" The Lockhart Bed and Breakfast Inn"Wow! I say it again. You guys are great! BY FAR the most effective and helpful of all the organizations. THANKS!!!!" Nancy Henderson, Sunset Hill House
"You do more for your member inns than any others by far. Your creative programs to promote the inns are awesome!" Ruth McLaughlin, Blair Hill Inn at Moosehead Lake