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 June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.