Hotel direct bookings are becoming the most talked about booking method. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear about the latest eCommerce initiatives to drive more business to brand websites. Metasearch, paid search, loyalty programs, discounts, customized experiences and other similar topics tend to be the focus of these initiatives.
The desire to capture and own our guests in a digital world has been the key area of focus. We seem to have almost forgotten about the most fundamental direct booking channel – the call center!
Plenty of people and companies have far more expertise than I when it comes to voice reservations. This blog will take a look at how Google is, and has been, incorporating this as part of their metasearch program, aka Click to Call.
Click to Call
Click to Call (CtC) is not new, in fact marketing agencies have been using this for several years as part of paid search programs. Fact is, CtC is not even new to metasearch – Google launched the functionality in the U.S. back in 2014. And to be very candid, it may not be ideal for every hotel, for reasons I will go into momentarily.
One of the most under-explored features of Google Hotel Ads
I do however believe that it is one of the most under-explored features of Google Hotel Ads metasearch program. Why use Click-to-Call? For the same reason you would include them with your normal search listings – it’s hard to drive and book a room on your phone at the same time!
Ok, that’s not the only reason – maybe you need directions, or you need to know if it’s a pet friendly hotel, or you need somebody to come get you. Regardless of the reason, we still see that most hotels, even those with significant call centre resources, are not utilising the same principles that would apply to paid metasearch campaigns.
That’s not to say it has gone unnoticed! In the three examples below, look at which booking option includes the Click-to-Call feature. I checked this across several other random hotels via my mobile phone, and found very consistent results.
The only topic we seem to hear more about than direct bookings is mobile, so it only makes sense this should be incorporated at every point of sale possible.
Alas, I have to be fair in saying this may not be right for everyone. Let’s face it, part of the reason we like bookings through our website is because of their low Cost of Sale (COS). The consumer that gets routed through a call centre for their booking is now coming in at a much higher COS due to the resources involved.
Call centre experts will however suggest these present an opportunity for higher ADR bookings, more ancillary revenues, and better conversion rates. Hotels that thrive on same day bookings are often booked by travellers enroute to their destination. Luxury resort hotels with a longer sales cycle would still benefit from the opportunity to create a personalised experience for the prospective guest.
I know, it’s never as easy as saying “Yeah, let’s do that” and many more factors need to be considered. However, as I always say, “Not participating in metasearch doesn’t stop it from happening – it just stops it happening for you.” In other words, if you don’t, somebody else always will. In an era where we are proclaiming that “Direct Bookings are King” we should take advantage of the opportunity to capture a guest at every opportunity.
About the Author
Dean Schmit has worked in the Hospitality Industry since 1992, and currently serves as the Sales Operations Manager for Click, by DerbySoft. Dean lives in Nebraska with his wife and 7-year old son and hopes to one day star in a remake of Gilligan’s Island – will let you decide for yourself which character! Just sit right back…