With the overwhelming flood of new technology, mobile bookings and other reservation options, some hotels have stopped paying any attention to the phone calls they receive and the bookings they sell through them.
One of the reasons for this is they believe their fascination with apps and smartphones is mirrored by the majority of travellers. The only people still calling hotels are baby boomers, right? Wrong.
And not measuring or tracking your voice reservations could be damaging your hotel’s revenue and marketing strategies.
While mobile bookings and website visits have both increased year-on-year, the ‘click-to-call’ feature on smartphones is increasing voice traffic to hotels in turn.
Here are five reasons why you need to remember the importance of customer phone calls:
1. Voice reservations make a difference to your campaigns
When hotels are running digital marketing campaigns they often fall into the trap of only tracking the digital results from those campaigns. Consequently they might believe email marketing, for example, is a dying channel that no longer provides adequate revenue.
However, who’s to say a large volume of voice reservations aren’t coming from your email marketing, as opposed to online bookings? A case study in Florida showed that over 41% of booking reservations from the property’s digital marketing campaign came via the voice channel. Without measuring this, the property would have deemed the campaign a failure.
Knowing where your voice reservations are coming from is just as important as knowing where your other bookings spawn from. It will better allow you to understand the effectiveness of your marketing strategies and create new revenue initiatives.
When a customer makes a booking via phone, you should be aware if it came from search engine marketing, email, display advertising, social media, etc.
2. They’re still absolutely relevant
In some cases a lack of easy mobile payments options, slow adoption of ecommerce, and too many options leads to customers preferring to deal direct with the hotel to make a booking. Even if someone is simply calling with an enquiry, it’s important to know at what point they decided to call the hotel.
Did they find the website too confusing? Was the mobile experience unsatisfactory? Was there a lack of information about parts of your hotel? Finding the answers to these questions will give you the opportunity to remove any booking roadblocks your business is facing.
As for phone callers only coming from older generations, this is also unfounded. Several lifestyle branded hotels targeting millennials still report more than 30% of bookings are made over the phone.
3. They help you gain a deeper understanding of your market
While surveys, reviews, and feedback forms are undoubtedly invaluable, you can also use calls to learn about current and potential customers. The data you gain here might be even more useful because it is entirely free speech. You’re able to hear the customer’s concerns and questions in their own voice and articulation. This way, you’ll be able to quickly get a clearer picture of any issues your hotel is facing in regards to guest experience.
By the same token, you’ll find out how well your staff manage customer service. Are they being successful in closing a sale, upselling, or providing adequate information?
Analysing both sets of data will help you improve your conversion rates.
4. They may become more common than you think
Contrary to popular belief that would posit the death of phone enquiries and bookings with the rise of newer booking options and more advanced hotels, phone calls could come raging back.
Travellers are now getting more information than ever before about where they can stay, how they can stay, and what they want to do while they stay. More information means more potential for confusion or indecision and the inclination for a person to call the hotel or travel agent rises.
If voice interaction is going to be a significant part of your daily business, it only makes sense to devote as much time to it as you do to other aspects like online distribution.
5. They help secure cheaper bookings for your hotel
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 channel. You also don’t have to market specifically for voice bookings. The campaigns you run to increase online bookings will still bring in phone calls. Dealing with customers on the phone also helps to avoid booking cancellations because you can accurately discern their problems and provide adequate solutions.
There is relatively simple technology available for hotels looking to track phone calls and listen into recordings. There are also instances where you can attach custom phone numbers to particular campaigns to see which are driving the most calls. Don’t forget that your website can also have its own number to see the phone traffic it generates.
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