Trends in reservations inquiry call volumes: Is there more to the numbers?
As a hotel reservations consultant and sales trainer, I’m often asked for my perspective on the current trends regarding the number of inquiry reservations call received vs. previous years. Many hotel marketers seem to think this is a simple question and I suppose that on one level it should be. It certainly is possible to just ask a large sample of hoteliers for their number of calls received year-to-date vs. previous year-to-date and then average the percentage of change either way.
However, based on my experiences in consulting with a multitude of very different lodging operations and feedback from my readers worldwide, I would say that such a simple and true average of the number would be meaningless as a tool for benchmarking any specific operation. This is because trends are varying greatly based on many factors, the most obvious of which are geographical location, market segment such as resort vs. hotel, brand affiliation (such as branded, not branded, or soft branded) and the type of inventory (such as a traditional hotel with a few room categories easily explained at a website vs. a multi-use resort with a wide range of accommodations and meal plans that might be confusing for online prospects).
Here are some less obvious factors that impact call trends:
- Did your hotel update its website, and if so, was the display (font size, location) of the phone number changed?
One unfortunate trend I have noticed is that web designers for some reason seem to be making it harder to locate a hotel’s phone number. Perhaps they think this will encourage people to book online instead of calling, but smart marketing and revenue managers know that encouraging phone calls helps increase direct bookings and reduce OTA dependence.
On a related note, as hotel websites have become more robust, there is more information than ever before available for guests prior to arrival and therefore there is far less “information only” calls being tallied. Similarly, guests can find answers to common questions online, so we no longer have many callers asking “Can we rent a car and drive from one island to another?” “What are the visa requirements from England?” or “Is there an extra charge for a third person?”