Click to Call: Turning Online Lookers into Bookers

By Cid Jenkins Vice President, ATG's eStara | January 27, 2012

Despite dramatic growth in online bookings over the last decade, many hospitality companies continue to struggle with delivering quality customer experience online. The Internet can be a double-edged sword for hotel owners. It presents potential travelers with easy access to products and services, but it also gives them an incentive to look elsewhere for a better deal. It's important for hospitality companies to establish brand loyalty with online travelers and lessen the chances of Web site abandonment. According to Forrester Research, 47 percent of those who research their travel plans online don't actually complete their travel arrangements online.

Online travelers generally abandon Web sites because they have pricing issues or technical support issues. During the infancy of e-commerce, many online travel and hospitality companies felt they could address these concerns by providing prospective customers with self-service tools, such as FAQs. However, with more complex sales, like making hotel reservations or booking travel packages, companies are beginning to understand they need to be more effective at securing, supporting and retaining their online customers.

To do this, many companies are turning to click to call technology. Click to call lets users click an HTML button embedded on a Web site, e-mail, banner ad, search engine or online directory listing, and immediately launches an automated call between the consumer and the contact center.

Overview: What is Click to Call?

Click to call services integrate web-based channels with contact centers by allowing customers to initiate live voice conversations with customer service representatives. Using VoIP technology, customers have the option to escalate from site browsing, search or research to conversation, either directly through their PCs, or by immediate callback to a mobile or landline phone. Because the service operates in a fully-hosted model, calls are routed to customer service representatives without any additional investment in call center hardware or software.

Companies are getting smarter about Web visitors, and are taking aggressive steps to optimize every visit in order to maximize sales conversion, increase customer loyalty and reduce website abandonment. Click to call provides the ability to track online sessions, detect trends and provide a dynamically placed assist if a prospect has lingered on a single page for a specified amount of time, or exhibited signs of website abandonment. This data garnered from a customer's online browsing can be viewed on its own, or integrated with existing data sources for a complete view of the customer and a seamless, online transaction experience.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.