THE FORGOTTEN REVENUE CHANNEL

Pros & Cons of Outsourcing Your Call Center

With a looming economic downturn and the slowing of the economy, US hoteliers may be facing tough times. According to the U.S. Travel Association’s latest Travel Trends Index (TTI), travel experiences its worst performance since September 2018.

Furthermore, U.S. Travel Economic Overview for August 2019 states that “Following the slowdown of the overall economy, the travel industry is also showing some signs of slowing. Both hotel occupancy and Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR) reported declines in June and a recently updated forecast revised RevPAR to slow even further in 2020 and occupancy to be basically flat.”

In this questionable environment, hoteliers must find new ways of attracting guests and driving revenue through their direct channels.

There are no easy solutions here, and a multi-pronged approach is almost certainly needed. But outsourcing your hotel’s call center may be part of the solution. Let’s look at why.

More time to drive more bookings

A hectic front desk can’t realistically be expected to deal with every incoming guest call effectively. Calls to discuss room preferences, dining options, or special requests aren’t always easy to handle with a quick response. In contrast, outsourcing your call center means customers can speak to a team of experts with the time and desire to help.

The benefits here extend beyond creating a more welcoming first impression. For instance, when a potential customer calls your hotel with a complex booking request, they’ll receive the advice and reassurance they need to, not only be inspired, but book their hotel stay with you.

Engage with guests earlier

An outsourced call center means your hotel never misses a call. This matters for more than the reasons stated above.

Yes, it creates more opportunities to build rapport with guests before they arrive. But these calls can also lead to more upsell and cross-sell opportunities, since there’s more time to really get to know each customer.

Pro-Tip
Any insights gleaned can also be used to personalize pre-arrival emails. With more pre-booking data available, you can promote the amenities and experiences that a specific person will find most desirable. Instead of leaving revenue on the table, you can maximize every booking by engaging with guests earlier.

Raul Vega, Growth Marketer – LEVEL 5 Hospitality

Enhanced on-property experience

An outsourced call center means the guests at your property receive more attention. Without having to constantly answer calls, your front desk team can engage in more face-to-face interactions — from recommending a great local restaurant to helping a family book a day trip.

Service issues and requests can be resolved more quickly too.

Needless to stay, this can all have a major impact on the guest experience, their future loyalty, and your hotel’s reputation management.

Why should you keep your call center in-house?

There are certain barriers that prevent hotels from outsourcing their call center. But are some of the common concerns misplaced?

Naturally, outsourcing your call center requires a financial investment. However, training your own employees in a specialized role is not without cost, especially when training temporary staff to fill gaps during peak periods.

“Today’s reservations agents and front desk staff are required to convey (and often to defend) the most complex rate structures and availability restrictions in the history of the lodging industry to the most educated callers our industry has ever faced.”
At the same time, most revenue and marketing managers are spending the majority of their time focusing on online distribution channels, making “voice” reservations the forgotten channel. The result is that today’s agents and front desk staff struggle along on their own and do their best to defend some very direct and often harsh lines of questioning.” Doug Kennedy, President – Kennedy Training Network

In addition, a lot of major call centers sell additional services and offload their heavy overheads to the hotel. In contrast, a call center that is exclusively focused on providing voice reservations will have inclusive pricing, and never pass along fees like this to their customers.

For some, the hesitancy to outsource might be based on fear of the unknown: will an external team understand and care about my business as much as my own staff? Not only do a lot of call center agents love their job, a specialist in hospitality is trained to ask insightful questions that really help them uncover the unique needs of travelers.

The lodging sector may be facing a difficult period in the new year. While outsourcing your call center alone isn’t a silver bullet, it can play a pivotal role within your hotels’ direct channel.

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John Smallwood, President

About John Smallwood, President of Travel Outlook

A veteran in the hospitality industry, John has owned, developed, and managed hotels for many years. After earning a BBA from New Mexico State University, he started his career with AT&T, gaining invaluable insight and experience in the early years of the data revolution. His experience in technology and hospitality merged in his development of Travel Outlook, the world-class hospitality contact center. More recently, he has branched out with the creation of ExpressRez, the premier contact center for the Bed and Breakfast industry, and with the creation of Bella, the first AI-powered voice bot for the hotel industry.

 
About Travel Outlook

Given its progressive approach to the voice channel – in terms of performance, training, transparency, testing and the tools used to measure performance – Travel Outlook Premium Hotel Call Center has become the premier voice reservations team in hospitality. Travel Outlook’s valued client list includes Viceroy Hotel Group, Outrigger, KSL Resorts, Proper Hospitality Group, Pacific Hospitality Group, Highgate Hotels, The Irvine Company, Catalina Island and many others. Travel Outlook’s team and approach increases sales conversion and helps to create more effective voice communication between hotels and their guests, resulting in improved social scores in addition to increased voice channel revenue. For more information, visit www.traveloutlook.com.

About Bella™, The Virtual Hotel Agent™:

Bella is an AI powered virtual call center agent that represents the next generation of voice bots designed specifically for the Hospitality industry. Bella has been programmed using a breakthrough approach to voice bots, a system built from human conversations. Using social media, chat forums, and movie dialogue, Bella learns from billions of casual human conversations to understand human inflections and multi-turn queries. This revolutionary approach means Bella understands callers no matter what they say, when they say it, or how they speak. Bella can answer FAQs specific to your property, understand multiple languages, route calls, send follow up texts, and more.

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