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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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.