I’m amazed that the hospitality industry still uses a central reservation system to secure reservations. In theory, it may save the company time by having all properties served by a single, central call center, but I think that they are missing some important opportunities in the process.
These days, with so many of us booking on-line, if someone does pick up a phone to call the hotel directly, it is probably because they want to talk to a person who can actually tell them something about the property. Yes, I can find room availability online as well as directions and type of amenities offered, but if I am planning a vacation, I want to learn about the “personality” of the property, not just what’s listed on a website.
If I call the hotel directly, it’s usually for specific information. I don’t want to be transferred to Oshkosh (no offense) where the person who answers the phone knows nothing about the property. For example, I may want to know what kind of equipment is available in the gym. Are the restaurants on site appropriate for children? How easy is it to get from the airport to the hotel? What activities are in the immediate area? I don’t want someone to say, “I don’t know”. I want to talk to someone who is totally familiar with the resort because they work there.
Too many agents sound robotic, act robotically and in a large percentage of cases, have limited information at hand to educate the consumer. Most importantly, they may not have the skills to build a connection with a customer. If someone takes the time to pick up the phone, it is usually because they are highly interested in staying at the referenced resort. Don’t miss that one opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with a potential customer. Use that occasion to make them feel welcomed, important and appreciated even before they ever step onto a plane, train or car to travel to your destination.