• Alec Drake

Can You Take and Hold the Reservation?

Updated: Aug 20

Comprehensive management of pending activity requires analysis of dollars and the inventory impact for pricing adjustments.

Image by kenny2332 - Pixabay

Remember the rental car scene on "Seinfeld" where Jerry shows up to claim his car. The clerk behind the desk politely tells him that they are out of vehicles. Jerry promotes the purpose behind making a reservation and then attempts to educate the clerk on the meaning of a reservation, the holding part being the most important.

In media, we reference reservations as pending business. The sales team and managers work hard to fill the "reservation" pipeline with pending activity. We also do revenue forecasts using pending dollars to define how the month or quarter will end. Are we missing anything in the take and hold aspects of a reservation?

Do We Understand the Purpose of the Reservation?

In a 1988 HBR.org article written by Peter Drucker, we find this quote; "Information is data endowed with relevance and purpose. Converting data into information thus requires knowledge. And knowledge, by definition, is specialized." How should we apply our pending knowledge for a more specialized direction on our pricing decisions? The pending evaluation has two steps, the data source reliability and the impact on yield with any pricing adjustments.

The Data Source or Taking the Reservations

Collecting pending data from your sales team is not a new concept. Several third-party software platforms capture and aggregate the dollars and close percentages to determine a total number. Managers can now see the gap from existing bookings, consider the pending impact, and where they are tracking towards the budget.

While the math is simple, the difficult part is sorting out facts from blue-sky projections. Only by staying close to your team with one-on-one meetings and tracking trends will you determine accurate pending numbers. Getting to a more precise number is essential when converting the pending dollars to inventory pressures, and the conversion enables proactive forecasting to adjust pricing.

The Holding Part of Reservations

We have all seen the headlines regarding supply chains for months. This bottleneck has caused inflation, deferred demand to a later date, delayed product delivery and changed sales processes. The auto industry, affected by chip shortages, shifted to pre-orders (reservations) as empty car lots pushed a new approach to sales and managing demand. In media, we must be mindful of perishable OTA inventory and how our supply chain works.

Where is the demand that will drive pricing? The last two years saw more supply than demand, and the attention to the impact of pending on inventory may have waned. It's essential in 2022, with political revenues forthcoming, a rebound from Covid demand destruction, and rising labor costs, to convert pending to an inventory measurement.

How Do You Convert Pending Dollars into Demand?

Many stations may have a robust platform for pending business management to offer feedback on inventory pressure. If so, make sure this capability is in full use and track available reports for proactive rate changes. If you do not have a process to track pending inventory impact, here is a primary starting point for measurement. I have kept the calculations limited to avoid any aggressive moves. The benefit comes from the incremental adjustment of rates faster in the sales cycle, improving yield performance.

Seven Steps to Calculate Pending Pressure

1. Review historic revenue contributions for high-demand areas. This review could include prime time dayparts only or program blocks of time.

2. Capture the total minutes sold for the same dayparts and periods.

3. Divide your revenue number by the minutes sold to create a benchmark rate.

4. Collect any pending dollars for the upcoming month at 80% or higher-close probability. Using a high percentage close, we also temper big rate moves that may be premature.

5. Divide your net pending amount by the benchmark rate from step 3.

6. Take the "pending minutes" you calculated from step 5 and add those to your sellout report.

7. Adjust rates to reflect the new forecasted sellout.


Comprehensive management of pending activity requires analysis of dollars and the inventory impact for pricing adjustments. In addition, better-pending management shifts inventory management to the sales department (proactive) rather than reports and oversight by the traffic department (reactive).

Take the extra step and hold the "reservation" (consider inventory) for a better outcome in the customer experience (less disruption to schedules), and your station's revenue performance will improve.

Do not miss "The 2022 Sales Lift-Off" this Thursday, January 13th. Loyd Ford from Rainmaker PathwayConsulting Works, and Alec Drake, will host Chuck Wood and Scott Howard on our roundtable to discuss a strong finish to Q1, recruiting for your sales staff, and actionable items to help you grow revenues in 2022.

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About Alec Drake:

As President of Drake Media Group, a content creation and sales consulting company, Alec is on a mission to share his unique perspective on best practices to enhance sales performance and drive revenue. The company offers a range of consulting expertise, including sales operations, team and individual coaching, yield and revenue management strategies, event sponsorship formats, and sales marketing.

Drake Media Group, LLC retains exclusive rights to the original content in all articles written by Alec Drake, contained in any podcast appearances, or articles published on third-party platforms.

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