Simplotel has quantified the significant impact that telephone calls have on a hotel's direct booking strategy.
The Indian-based direct booking specialist looked at the phone calls received by 50 of its hotel customers in India over a two-to-three month period.
The main finding was that one-in-ten people who come to a hotel's web site will phone the hotel with a query, half of whom are interested in making a booking.
It identified a few reasons why people call the hotel - new internet users wanting reassurance from a human; guests thinking they can get negotiate a better deal over the phone; mobile web users calling from their device; and concerns over online payments.
But hotels are not making the most of these leads, Simplotel says. It claims that one-in-five calls to hotels go unanswered. And the usual way of dealing with a phone query - ask for the caller's email address and send them prices - is inefficient as these emails then need to be followed up by someone from the sales team.
The issue Simplotel identifies is around revenue. When handled correctly, "phone calls originating from the website can generate six times more revenue than the website booking engine," it claims.
But the purpose of these phone queries should be to drive the customer back to the website. So Simplify suggests having the same rate for web and phone (with perhaps phone bookings being slightly more expensive).
Similarly, it suggests that people who reserve over the phone should be persuaded to pay for that reservation online.
Both courses of action will free up time for the hotel staff while also converting a phone booker to an online booker.
Simplotel believes that "over the years we expect more customers will book online directly without calling the hotel. But until then hotels need to manage their calls better and convert more such leads."
Related reading from Tnooz:
India’s hotel receptionists take more bookings than the OTAs (Jan 2016)
Google India sees big hike in searches for branded budget hotels (April 2016)
MakeMyTrip adds hotels, gains air share, invests in Simplotel (Jan 2015)
NB: Image by Laurentiu Iordache/bigstock.com