Place MixThe problems hotels experience in reaching new customers lead them to use third parties asintermediaries. This costs money in the form of commissions, of course, but then so does advertising.Let us consider the various means by which hotels and their customers can be brought together .Direct individual salesThis is the simplest method. The would-be guest chooses a hotel and then contacts it by letter, telephoneor some other medium. The only parties involved are the hotel and the customer. Of course, thecustomer has to find out about the hotel first. This involves some kind of advertising or promotion.Typical methods include mentions in guidebooks, local accommodation brochures or directories such asthe motoring organization handbooks.One of the main problems with direct contact is that the customer is usually located a considerabledistance from the hotel. This means that he has to place a long distance telephone call in order to make abooking, and might have to repeat this several times In order to obtain a room at a particularly busyperiod. This costs money and (what is often worse) often takes a good deal of time.However, not all travellers bother or are able to arrange accommodation in advance, and a hotel canalways appeal directly to these. Roadside advertisements are examples of this approach.Direct group salesMany direct bookings are actually made on behalf of groups of one sort or another. Some of these arerelatively small, such as sports clubs outings, overnight functions and the like, but others can be verylarge, such as major conferences. These are sometimes arranged by specialist agencies, but quite oftenthe organizer prefers to deal with the hotel directly.Groups are so important as a source of business that they are an exception to the usual rule that it is notworth the hotelâ€™s while to try to contact the customer directly for some face-to- face selling.Travel agentsThere are two main types:1 Retail agents These are the common and familiar high Street agents who sell direct to the public.Their main business is to arrange holidays for their customers, including hotel accommodation.2 Company agents Some city centre agencies specialize in business house travel, while organizationssuch as major multinational companies are so big that it is worth their while to have their own travelagency to handle all their business. Sometimes they buy one outright, sometimes they simply invite asmall agency to specialize in their business. Either way, the agency is likely to handle a lot of valuablebookings. It receives the usual commission, though some of its profits are likely to be passed on to itsparent company or major client.[
Travel agents make their money from commissions received on the sale of tickets and bookings. Sincetickets are fixed in price, the mechanism is simple. The agency carries a stock of blank tickets and simplyremits the money less the commission to the carrier after it sells one.Group Tour OperatorsThese include the familiar names whose brochures you will find in any retail travel agent. Many of thelarger ones have their own retail out lets. In all, they sell an enormous number of holidayâ€˜packagesâ€™ and book a comparable amount of space at hotels.This category also includes a vast number of smaller operators of various sorts. Some undertakeâ€˜specialityâ€™ work, arranging battlefield or birdwatching tours, safaris, ski trips and the like.Others specialize in arranging conferences. One of the fastest growing sectors is that of incentive travel,usually arranged by a company for its clients or its successful sales staff. This is a specialized field, and ithas attracted its own full-time companies that provide a range of consultancy and administrativeservices.Group tour operators do not receive commission because they are not introducing clients but ratherbooking the space themselves. They make their money from the difference between the cost of theseparate elements of the â€˜packageâ€™ (transport, food, accommodation, entertainment, etc.) and theprice they are able to charge for it as a whole.AirlinesThe major airlines are in a special position, since they are large and commercially very powerful.They are important to hotels because: The nature of their operations means that they are constantly having to send their flight crews to â€˜overnightâ€™ in hotels all over the world, and this in itself means that they create a considerable amount of business. They deal with an enormous number of travellers. Such travellers often find it convenient to arrange other services, such as car hire and hotel accommodation, at their destinations as part of the booking process. This puts the airlines in much the same position as the nineteenth-century railway companies, who also used to make hotel bookings for their passengers, and who even found it profitable to own and operate their own hotels. They frequently have to make arrangements for travellers â€˜groundedâ€™ through no fault of their own. Arranging overnight accommodation for a planeload of passengers held up by fog or some other operational problem is a common task for airline staff, and can be a useful source of business for hotels in the vicinity of major airports.Hotel representativesHotel representatives were originally an American idea, developed because the USA is a large countrywith widely dispersed centres of population, yet a lot of â€˜ business travel. Hotel representativesâ€™base themselves in one such area (some now have worldwide representation) and act as sales andreservation agents on behalf of a number of non-competing hotels from other regions. Local travel
agents are able to make bookings for the clients quickly and cheaply, rather than incurring the expenseinvolved in long distance telephone calls. Representatives will also distribute your brochures and otherpromotional mater locally. They are usually paid an annual fee plus commission on the reservations theygenerate.Hotel booking agenciesSome areas are short of hotel space and it is particularly difficult to find accommodation in them at busytimes of the year. This is fine for the local hotels, but not much fun for those trying to make bookingsthere. This has led to the development of specialized hotel booking agencies.Some of these offer this service to individuals. Other hotel reservation agencies deal mainly with travelagents or conference organizers and offer a national, continental or ever worldwide service. Suchagencies earn their living from commissions in the usual way, though there is usually also aâ€˜systemsâ€™ charge to cover the installation of any specialized equipment.Group reservation systemsThese are designed to help customers to book accommodation at any of the hotels within a group,usually with one local telephone call. They offer a valuable service to travel agents, who may have tomake a number of bookings at different locations at the same time. However, the facilities can also beuseful to the individual traveler, who is able to make a booking at a distant hotel with one local call. Anincidental advantage is that the systems make it easier for the group to monitor overall booking trends.Tourist Information CentresThe idea behind the Tourist Information Centre is quite different to that of the group reservationsystem. The latter aims to help customers to book at group hotels anywhere in the world. A TouristInformation Centre aims (among other things) to help customersâ€™ to book accommodation at anyhotel within its own local area. It resembles the hotel booking service, except that it is not a commercialenterprise but a local government service.The Tourist Information Centre also differs from most of the other intermediaries in terms of the type ofcustomer it deals with. Group reservation systems tend to be set up by the big international hotel chainsand used by agencies specializing in business travel services. Tourist Information Centre bookingservices tend to be used by private individuals interested in much cheaper accommodation, often of thebed and breakfast type.The InternetGroup reservation systems restrict the customer to Just one company or consortiumâ€™s hotels. TheTourist Information Centre system is not limited in this way, but it suffers from resource problems thatreduce its usefulness. In any case, it still puts an intermediary between the customer and the hotel.The Internet does away with these limitations, as more and more customers are discovering. Any would-be guest equipped with a computer and a modem can now call up a hotel database covering his proposeddestination and select an establishment on the basis of its location, price and facilities. He can use thebuilt-in e-mail facility to check its room availability, make a booking and even pay a deposit by quoting
his credit card number, all without having to leave the comfort of his home or office. With a faxconnection as well, he can have a confirmation slip printed off. In short, it allows him to select a hotelanywhere in the world and offers him instant connection at minimum cost, with all the advantages ofimmediate response and a permanent record.The PeopleIn an age of sophisticated information technologies when we have been making superhighway forcommunications, there is a basic change in the expectations of users. The personnel serving the hotelcompanies no doubt depend substantially on the instrumentality of information technologies but here itis also important that hotels and hotel companies assign due weightage to the development ofpersonnel. Sky is the limit for perfection. This phrase is meaningful not only for the technologies buteven for the people who manage them. It is against this background that the marketing experts theworld over has been found making a strong advocacy in favour of an ongoing training programme forthe personnel servicing the hotel companies.The prime focus is on the front-line-personnel working in hotels in different capacities. Thereceptionists, the porters, the housekeepers, the waiters and waitresses and even the doormen play anincremental role in promoting the business. The sales executives, the marketing managers, the seniorexecutives bear the responsibility of managing the front-line-personnel in such a way that the promisedservices reach to the ultimate users without making any distortion.Of course, they are supposed to have proper education and knowledge regarding the services they needto offer but here, it is also important that the hotel organizes for them an ongoing training programme,refresher courses, capsule courses, lecture programme, specially related to the behavioral profile. Thereare several cases to quote that even the five star hotels where the users stay with high expectations, aminor mistake committed by the receptionists or the housekeepers has resulted in a big loss. Thefrontline- staff in particular needs to identify the changing levels of expectations of users and in amajority of the cases they virtually fail in doing such.A gap is generated between the quality promised and the quality-offered. If the hotel personnel prove tobe high-performers, personally committed, professionally sound, value-oriented, aware of thebehavioral management; familiar with the aesthetic management; they can satisfy the users even if thesophisticated technologies develop a fault. This makes it essential that the hotel personnel are madeavailable an ongoing training facility efficacious in enriching their professional excellence.The cases of menu fatigue, power interruption, mismanaged bedrooms, function rooms and restaurants,indecent behaviour of doormen, poor information to the receptionists and enquires can be minimizedconsiderably if due weightage to performance-orientation is assigned.THE REGENT, Mumbai, has recruited only those employees who have completed their diploma orPGDBA in Hotel & Catering Management. They have 700 permanent staff and 200 trainees. Their wholestaff is well educated and well mannered because they are from the Hotel Management field only. Theseemployees have western formal dress code. Slang is not allowed by the staff. This is how THE REGENT
is maintaining and improving their quality of service. Training is also given to these employees. For thistraining they are appointing a well-known personalities from the field of hospitality industry.