Creating a Seamless Customer Experience For Your Web Site and Call Center

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

Consumers are consistently turning to the Internet to book their travel accommodations, so now more than ever it is critical to create a seamless experience for them. Over the years, the Web has grown to be one of the greatest resources for travelers looking to compare options, explore potential destinations and research accommodations. Yet because booking on the Web is so easy and there are so many competitive sites available, hotels and resorts must ensure their Web sites provide customers with a memorable experience not only to gain their business, but also to keep them coming back for more.

According to a study from Forrester Research, over 80 percent of respondents say that improving the usability, usefulness and 'enjoyability' of the online experience is more important in 2008 than in years past - proof that the time is now to invest in the Web. Advancements in technology have paved the path for hotels to improve the way they interact with customers across multiple touch points to create consistent and relevant customer experiences. A major opportunity that has yet to reach its full potential in the hospitality industry is the ability to strategically include click to call capabilities on Web pages, tying the internet to the call center.

Call centers are often operated by hotels or outsourced to another separate company to handle incoming support or information inquiries from consumers. There are many reasons why hotels need call centers, including helping with inquiries that arise from customers browsing the company's Web site and experiencing the following:

  • they are confused about availability for a particular date
  • unsure of the rates during a season
  • curious about the quickest method to book their trip
  • hesitant about their next step
  • need assistance to book their trip
  • additional options for assistance should they have trouble booking online

The common tie

More and more hotels are implementing new technology such as click-to-call, when they are in need. Click to call helps tie the Web site and call center together and give customers a seamless booking experience. 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 launch an automated call between the consumer and the contact center.

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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.