OTAs might be winning a major share of direct hotel bookings, but thereâ€™s a chink in their armor that hoteliers can exploit.
According to an article by travelmarketreport.com, sites including Consumer Affairs and Trusted Pilot are being bombarded with complaints about increasingly poor levels of OTA customer service.Â Issues range from hotel reservations not being recorded properly, to cheap rates mysteriously vanishing when travellers try to book them.
And one of the other frequent causes for customer dissatisfaction?Â Long hold times and dropped calls when needing to talk to a human.
This particular issue presents a huge opportunity for hoteliers to outshine the OTAs by doing something very simple, but incredibly effective: picking up the phone and providing a much-needed human touch.
Answering your calls quickly and efficiently is an easy way to make customers feel valued.Â And thereâ€™s no other form of communication that offers a more instantaneous solution to a concern or an opportunity to up-sell or add package components to an existing reservation.
Whether itâ€™s booking reservations or resolving complaints, speaking with each customer in person and offering a swift response to their needs will impress your guests and set the stage for positive social media postings.
But more than that, talking over the phone brings a distinctly human element to a customer relationship.Â It allows the opportunity to empathize and understand.Â While the automated OTA service can often feel distinctly remote, a conversation over the phone between your guest and your team allows for an intimacy that canâ€™t be matched.
By ensuring guests arenâ€™t left on hold and by putting systems in place that mean they always speak with a person, youâ€™ll be doing something incredibly valuable - demonstrating respect for a personâ€™s time, while taking the opportunity to develop a rapport with them, building long-term trust.
At a time when people appear increasingly frustrated by instances of OTA unresponsiveness, this unrivaled level of customer service will stand out more than ever.
This is one in a series of short essays By John Smallwood, CEO of Travel Outlook Premium Reservations Call Center about voice reservations, the second most profitable revenue channel. Travel Outlook is a hospitality company that takes voice reservations calls for its clients.
www.traveloutlook.comÂ Â 844-TRAVELOUTLOOK