“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
George Bernard Shaw
With the advent of electronic communication - emails, SMS, mobile phones, social media etc, this quote by George Bernard Shaw could not be more accurate. In our daily effort to communicate with one another, it seems that we are less and less successful in doing so in spite of the fact that we have more tools than ever before. Our ability to actually talk to a person has become harder and harder.
Communication requires two channels - a Communicator and a Receiver. The key is that it will take two parties to make communication effective. Today, our tolerance and patience with effective communication is becoming more and more demanding. Patience runs out very quickly!
“In spite of having all the tools such as SMS, Phone, Email and more we seem to be less and less effective in our communication.”
So how does this impact on our businesses? Caravan and Tourist parks are in the service industry, providing accommodation options to customers. So to provide that service we need to ensure our contact with customers is working. But, just how easy is it to secure guests for our accommodation? How often are caravan parks missing out on these opportunities due to lack of communication?
Poor communication situations
What are some of the poor communication situations we have all encountered at some time or another when it comes to securing accommodation?
- Not answering the Phone
- Not redirecting the phone to a person who can assist a guest
- Not giving the opportunity to leave a voice message
- Not responding to that voice message when it is received
- Worse still, asking guests to ‘leave a 10 second message that is converted to text’. ( I would hate to know what the text actually becomes!)
- Not bothering to respond to the Missed call or Message at all
- Not responding to email enquiries promptly
And I am sure there are many more……
How does your park stack up?
So how does your park stack up with these issues? If you have a clean slate on all these issues then ‘well done’! If not, then what impact is that having on your business? Just one missed opportunity per day could cost you upwards of $1000 or more a month and $12000 and much more a year. I am not counting the impact on lost accommodation in cabins or the potential loss of a customer who could become loyal and be a returning customer, or even better want to stay longer than just one night!
So how do customers view communication, and more importantly how do they respond to an unanswered call?
In a recent survey Kui Parks undertook on our Facebook Page, where we received 120 responses, we asked the following question:
“You are on the road. You want to book ahead for a site tonight. You phone to book and you get NO ANSWER or it goes to VOICE MAIL. What is your response?”
More than half of the customers said they would look for another place to stay. A bit more than one third said they would give the park the benefit of the doubt and leave a message, or even try a few times to reach the park. Interestingly, more than 60% will NOT leave a message! Only 1 in 10 will try an email or SMS and an even smaller percentage will just arrive and hope for a site.
A key message here is that a significant number would just look for another location. That is huge. If no adequate contact is achieved and responded to, it will result in a potential loss in business, and no doubt future visits. What potential revenue is lost, not to mention the guests perception of your park and the lack of future business?
So what can be done?
Take advantage of that opportunity that comes ringing! Here are some simple tips to consider for your park:
- Where possible have the phone answered at all times. Ideally set a goal to respond within say four rings.
- If you are out of the office, have the phone redirected to your mobile, for a quick response. NO action is needed, just a commitment to the guest you will call them back when you are back in the office.
- Diverted numbers to mobiles are great. If you are not able to respond immediately and the guest has not left a message you do have the missed call number to respond to.
- Ensure your message is friendly and welcoming, and if you say the call is important to you, then be sure you demonstrate that by responding promptly.
- Respond as quickly to the contact as you can - even if its just to say you will contact them later.
- AVOID a message system that converts the 10 second message to a text. That will result in ZERO responses.
- If you have a Facebook page for your park, have an automated message set up in messenger saying you are out of the office and you will get back to them within the hour. You could include your office hours in this message which could also assist with point 8.
- If you are trying to limit queries in the evenings, why not leave a message that the call has been received outside office hours. Add a mobile number and invite them to SMS you if the matter is urgent. In this way you may be able to fill a cabin or site. Useful especially in the quieter times
What other recommendations would you give your colleagues in the industry?
We would love to hear your thoughts on this matter.