Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

The B&B Team

Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman (that’s Rick on the left and Peter on the right) are both experienced speakers who have presented on a range of innkeeping related topics at the state, regional, and national level. They gather and analyze research for the Innkeeping industry and welcome the opportunity to share it with others. Contact Us

Posts Tagged ‘reservation system’

Booking Online or Phone – It’s still 50/50

February 26th, 2015 by Janet Wolf


phone reservations

Phone = Talk

Booking online

Convenient and Immediate

With the popularity and convenience of booking online, the ‘art’ of taking a phone reservation may not seem as important as it once was. Communicating by email, smart phone messaging, twitter, Facebook has reduced actual talking on the phone.  I hear some people say they don’t like talking on the phone anymore! But if you are an innkeeper, you better like it. Taking reservations by phone is still so important and many guests prefer it. The stats are still 50/50, phone vs online. We must keep alive the art of giving good phone.

AAA has their Hospitality Standards. It is part of their Four and Five Diamond service expectations. Reservations Services (in other words, booking by phone) is the first important standard on this long list.

Let’s take a look at what they are looking for when they rate a property. I’ve added my comments and recommendations following AAA’s bullet points.


  • Answer the phone within 3 rings. That means not letting the call go to phone messaging unless absolutely necessary.  Call forwarding to your cell when away from the property is a must.


  • Extend an appropriate greeting.  “Good afternoon and thank you for calling The Cheerful Inn, my name is Janet, how may I help you?”


  • Thank caller for contacting the property. (I think I just did this, I’m way ahead of AAA)!


  • Provide an appropriate introduction to guest. Make it personal from the beginning by telling them your name and asking for theirs. Be cheerful and NEVER sound rushed. The caller must not hear that in your voice. Give the potential guest the feeling that you have been anticipating their call all day with delight!


  • Address caller by name as appropriate. This may be a good time to ask them if they have stayed at the Inn before. If yes, you can pull up their name on your system. It is also appropriate to ask the name of their traveling companion. Good idea to know who is staying with you so you can communicate with both parties.


  • Anticipate caller’s needs or offer personalized recommendation. Listen, listen, listen. THEN provide the information you feel they are looking for. Anticipating their needs is also accomplished by asking them questions to determine their needs.


  • Provide rate structure and room availability.  The caller may have this information already from your online reservation system. They also may be calling because they feel they can get a ‘better deal’ by calling direct. If you are comfortable giving them a different rate or upgrading them to a better room, do it. If it is your high season and you know you can book the room at the regular rate, then no. I recall many times when we would stick with our regular rates, and the caller would call back within minutes and book. You can tell when a caller is just ‘rate shopping’ vs ‘inn shopping’.


  • Provide an overview of facilities and services. They like to hear about the extras you provide, that added value but… recommend brevity. You don’t want to over sell.


  • Exhibit competent/accurate knowledge of property and hours of operation. As an innkeeper/owner you would of course have this knowledge and be glad to share it. Important that any staff that you have empowered to take reservations would also be competent and knowledgeable.


  • Review reservation request. So important to repeat all the data that your reservation system requires. Correct any miscommunications before the call ends.


  • Exhibit a sincere desire to comply with all guests requests. And you know there can be many unreasonable requests. The awful two letter word ‘no’ should not be part of your vocabulary at this point. Unless it is a truly impossible request.  This would also be a good time to ask if they have any special dietary needs.


  • Be efficient and sensitive to the manner of the request.


  • Provide an appropriate closing. “Thank you for choosing The Cheerful Bed & Breakfast for your week-end getaway. Is there anything else I can do for you before your visit or any further questions you might have at this time?”


  • Provide follow-up reservation confirmation in advance of arrival. Good reservation systems will have this. You can always add a personal note with the automated email.


  • The guest feels well served.


phone reservations

Not a good technique for taking a reservation Jerry!

Remember the other line from the movie Jerry McGuire, “You had me at ‘hello’?” Think about what this means.  If you don’t give a potential first time guest that  personalized and cheerful greeting from the first ‘hello’ then the room and rate information they really want to hear may fall on deaf ears. You have lost them.  They will go on to the next choice they have on their list.

A personal story to end this post. We had an assistant innkeeper, Steve, who was and still is the most upbeat, cheerful person. Steve spells hospitality. We had a visit from a  travel writer at Yankee Magazine one week-end, and we ended up getting an award from them. Great, right? But we were away that week-end and Steve was running the Inn for us. That is how good he is. At the Inn he works at now there are guests who check-in with one of the owner/innkeepers  and they will look around and ask; “Where is Steve”? He gets you at ‘hello’.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Technology for Inns … Tips for Making the Innkeeping Lifestyle a Bit Easier

July 13th, 2010 by Scott Bushnell

I received a short message from Mary and Alan Duxbury at The Carlisle Housein Carlisle, PA., and Alan offers TEN time and effort-saving tips for innkeepers.  Mary makes the best quiche in the world and I opted for a picture of the quiche instead of Alan (sorry, Alan!)  Many of Alan’s tips involve technology and how its use can be a time-saving and headache-solving alternative for some of the daily frustrations of running an inn.  Thank you, Alan…here’s your list:

    TECHNOLOGY TIP: A web-based Property Management System allows you to enter reservations from anywhere you have internet access.

    OPERATIONS TIP: Alan recommends using a credit card machine instead of an internet credit card processing service if your inn is subject to frequent power outages.  Phone lines continue to work in outages and you will still be able to do business.

    TECHNOLOGY TIP:  An iPhone or iPad-type device will give you that internet access capability. You can take reservations from the grocery store or while away from the inn without worrying about losing a booking by not getting back to your voicemail or answering machine soon enough.

    TECHNOLOGY TIPGoogle Calendar allows you to manage your daily schedule and appointments.  If you keep your calendar on Outlook, Google Calendar can be synced with your Outlook calendar.

    SECURITY (AND TECHNOLOGY) TIP: Set your wireless network to log all MAC codes and connection times of every device that connects to your service from your account.  This will identify all users on your system and will protect you if any of your users are doing illegal activity on your network (such as downloading pornography or spamming).

    TIME-SAVING (AND TECHNOLOGY) TIP: If you use company credit cards and banks (and we all do!), set it up to have them download their monthly statements directly into your financial software package.  Saves a LOT of typing!  (Call Alan on how to do that…not me!)

    MARKETING TIP: If you want to get to the top of Google search results, when selecting important keywords, ask a friend with a similar inn that is distant from you for ideas.  Local competition may not be as friendly sharing their secrets.

    TECHNOLOGY TIP: On your wireless network, ensure it is secured with a password or phrase.  You can inform your guests of the password but it also prevents the neighbors from downloading movies on your network and slowing your network to a crawl.

    TIME-SAVING TIP: If you make a cash deposit to your bank, write the name and reservation number on the deposit slip.  you will be able to query it on the internet a year later when your accountant asks where the money came from.

    MONEY-MANAGEMENT TIP: Alan recommends having THREE bank accounts.  One is your personal account for all non-business transactions.  The second is for all deposits from sales…whether credit card deposits, cash deposits, gift shop sales, everything.  This is an INTEREST-BEARING account.  The third account is for expenditures.  Transfer money from the revenue account into the expenditure account on occasion to pay the bills.  This leaves the balance of the revenue earning interest.  A side-benefit of having these two business accounts is that you will have all deposits and all expenses on SEPARATE statements at the end of the month for easy reconciling.

Thank you, Alan.  I would be interested in other innkeepers’ thoughts on any of Alan’s ideas and feel free to send me YOUR tips for making the innkeeping lifestyle and business even more wonderful and manageable.  Scott

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