Seven Tricks to Regain Customer Loyalty Through Your Website

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

How can hotels measure online success? Now more than ever, it comes down to being able to measure the results of the enhancements you put on your site. Here, I offer seven tricks designed to help you measurably strengthen customer loyalty via your Web sites and lift online reservation rates, even in these interesting economic times.

1. Engage travelers with a human touch

Leaders in the travel and hospitality industry have already shown their commitment to their guests by creating interactive, engaging Web sites that entice with video, high-end photography, virtual tours and more. But too few are giving researchers what would most help them close a booking: the ability to instantly interact with a customer service agent. It's only natural that some travelers face hesitation when booking a trip online, particularly when specific questions arise regarding hotel amenities and services. How far a walk it really is to the beach, or what the qualifications are of the people staffing the on property kids camp? Answering these and many other questions quickly and easily can be the deciding factor between a completed reservation and a lost customer. Research has shown that online customers and prospects are more likely to book with you if they can engage in a live phone call or text chat when they need specific information or have questions.

The benefits of instantly linking your guests with hotel representatives via live chat and phone conversations also extend beyond increasing conversion rates. This capability also helps you streamline your call center process by having real-time access to the consumer's Web activity. When you talk to a customer via a click to call service, your agents can already know the context of what the caller has been looking at on your site, so they can more efficiently address their issue.

2. Connect with your travelers via online video

Many times travelers are introduced to a hotel through its advertisements on third party Web sites. Video advertising is certainly on the rise - and not just in the hospitality sector. With its popularity come advancements in technology. Today, hotels can transform video advertisements from passive content into active, revenue-generating leads. For example, even when advertising on third party sites, hotels can drive customer loyalty by making those videos actionable, driving traffic directly to their site, encouraging visitors to save the hotel's contact information or even offering a live interaction with a hotel agent directly from the video interface while the prospect is still playing the video.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.