Telephone channel is still king for hotel bookings

With the advent of the latest technology and AI-powered chatbots, use of mobile bookings and other reservation options are becoming popular in hotels. Some hotels have stopped paying any attention to the phone calls they receive and the bookings they sell through them.

While mobile bookings and online bookings have dramatically increased year-on-year, the telephone channel is still king when it comes to cross-selling and up-selling. Research findings have shown that sales through the telephone channel can increase the conversion rate by 35%, as well as increase the average reservations price up to 60% due to ancillary products and services.

Increase direct sales thru calls

The more voice reservations you receive, the better; because it means you aren’t paying for distribution costs to an online travel agent (OTA) or other channels.

“An important channel of the direct sales”

Rebeca González, managing director of Roiback, said: “One out of every four telephone contacts with the hotel is a potential revenue generator, either as a new reservation or modification. For this reason, it is an important channel of the direct sales that we should streamline as much as possible, but, by contrast, many hotels – especially the small ones – neglect it.”

“To offer a good telephone booking service is very expensive and it requires a great specialisation. That’s why many hotel chains outsource this service to specialise booking centres,” she added.

Therefore, the more calls are answered, the more sales are made. It also increases the conversion ratio and reduces cancellations up to 20%. Likewise, upgrading opportunities are better leveraged, allowing the hotel to increase its revenues and the client to receive a better and more personalised service.

Optimising telephone channel would not only increase revenues but would also reduce costs, since resources are streamlined with advanced technology and all customers are adequately attended while the extra cost of personnel, among other indirect costs, are avoided. Technology also enables hotels to shave a homogenous quality service, which is important for a brand.

Expensive and specialised

According to Majorcan tech company, a specialised booking centre service can boost hotel direct sales, but six out of 10 hotels do not have such a service.

Companies like Sabre provide booking centre service with their SynXis Voice Agent, a cloud-based command centre that allows phone agents to be more productive sales representatives and provide enhanced support to guests via SynXis Voice Agent’s guest recognition, CRM, booking process, and additional unique features that enable a complete view of the guest, with enhanced CRM tools.

Frank Tampert, managing director and commercial officer, Sabre Hospitality Solutions, APAC, explained to me that Sabre’s technology “personalises interactions with guests, including a centralised guest database for access across properties, access to guest reservation history and stay preferences, and advanced CRM tools with loyalty status and reservation information. Sales-centric features include dynamic and personalised packages for upselling along with brand capabilities with filtering functionality that helps agents view and cross- or up-sell.”

“Creating a sustainable brand that can evolve as the market changes”

He added, “The most innovative hoteliers seek to create a brand that can not only endure, but also adapt at the pace of their customers’ changes in preferences and shifts in technology. Creating a sustainable brand that can evolve as the market changes is not easy; although, it is a necessary business strategy for achieving long-term success. By embracing the latest in hospitality technology, hoteliers are better able to articulate their value proposition across important touch points that are the most relevant for today’s guests. Overall, providing a consistent, guest-centric experience enhances guest satisfaction and increases revenue.”

As Gonzalez pointed out, a booking centre service is quite expensive but also has to be specialised. This is probably one of the reasons why smaller chains, especially family-owned properties do not invest in such a service.

However, the telephone channel is absolutely relevant, especially in cases like a simple inquiry or guests are booking in a place with slow adoption of e-commerce and preferred to deal direct with the hotel to make a booking.

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