Whether or not to outsource your call center – Part 1 – Hotel-Online



Travel Outlook Hotel Reservations Call Center Services | March 17, 2020

Hotels lose booking revenue by undervaluing their voice booking channel. Using an outsourced call center is sometimes seen as a luxury compared to the cost of handling in-house calls. But that can turn out to be a false economy; a professional voice team can dramatically increase bookings and increase ADR (Average Daily Rate), more than offsetting the financial expense.

So how do hotels lose revenue when handling their reservation calls internally?

1. Calls are missed

The most obvious way to lose income is that calls are missed. A busy reception desk just can’t pick up the phone 100% of the time. While some of these callers will be ready to call again later, others inevitably will not. And of course, a missed call can mean you’re wasting a lifetime of potentially long-term guest income.

Reservations are often lost when incoming reservation calls are not handled with care.

2. Complex bookings are not always handled with care

Missed calls aside, a hectic reception doesn’t always have time to handle every call with the necessary care and attention.

It may not matter for quick inquiries, but dealing with complex booking requests (such as assistance with a multi-family booking) often takes time to find the right solution. Reservations can easily be lost if a potential customer feels rejected or if their request has not been resolved to their satisfaction.

3. Missed cross-sell and up-sell opportunities

An internal team can also miss vital cross-selling and up-selling opportunities. It is not just a question of time constraints, but a lack of specialized training. An expert voice agent is trained to ask specific questions that reveal the “story†behind the call. This allows them to identify a customer’s unique needs, preferences and place in the booking journey. In turn, they are able to sell relevant upgrades, additional services, and experiences that a caller will be most likely to purchase.

Train reservation agents to properly close calls and avoid losing direct reservations to OTAs.

4. Losing guests due to OTAs

When shopping, travelers often call hotels for occasional questions, such as their rates, rooms, and amenities. An internal team will be able (for the reasons mentioned above) to answer the call and no more, allowing the customer to hang up and possibly to reserve via a meta-search or an OTA.

The unintended consequence is that direct booking revenue is lost. Having the time and training to close calls from customers who may be tempted to book (even on a “casual†phone call) is essential to generating revenue through your voice channel.

“Often, hoteliers mistakenly view hiring an outsourced call center as a financial burden,†says John Smallwood, CEO of Travel Outlook.

“With the right team in place, the voice channel can be an invaluable part of a hotel’s direct revenue strategy, while maintaining guest satisfaction. Often times hotels don’t know how much revenue they’re missing because they aren’t investing and tracking the difference a call center can make.

Are you leaving reservation income on the table?

A well-trained call center team can dramatically increase your hotel’s ADR and average occupancy by consistently meeting these high performance standards:

  • Obtain an abandonment rate of less than 5%
  • Achieve a call conversion rate of over 65%
  • Answer calls within 20 seconds 80% of the time or more.

If your hotel’s call center team doesn’t consistently meet these KPIs, it might be time to take a deep dive to find ways to consistently meet these criteria.

This is part of a series of essays by John Smallwood, CEO of Travel Outlook Premium Reservations call center on voice reservations, the second most profitable revenue channel.


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