Direct channel bookings in recent years have become synonymous with online bookings for many hotels, but a closer look at direct booking data shows that for many hotels only 10-15% are web reservations and as much as 75% are voice channel. The outstanding growth in mobile search and planning has, rather than co-opting the voice channel, actually expanded it with click-to-call functionalities driving voice bookings. In 2013,Wyndham Hotel Group reported that for every booking via its mobile website, three are converted after a voice call.

Hotels are seeing their allocated spend per booking increasing at the same rate as revenue per booking, with substantial dollars going toward marketing and OTA fees. This is essentially a no-win scenario. However, there are ways to better utilize budget, increasing revenue from the direct channel and, ideally, decreasing marketing spend—and it starts with reservation “sales” staff.

In 2013, NAVIS was brought on board to launch a call center for Vacation Myrtle Beach alongside resort professional Kelly Simmons. The innovative approach increased revenue by $1M in just the first 10 months. Reinventing reservations takes a savvy combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Fundamentally, however, it starts with viewing reservations as a vital part of the sales team responsible for property revenue. Reservations “sales” agents are much more than minimum-wage order takers. Then add in a mixture of the right people in the right environment with supporting technology and motivating incentives, syncing up intrinsic and extrinsic criteria. While it sounds like a lot of change management, the pay-off is substantial.

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