Does anyone use their landlines anymore? I am seriously thinking about cutting mine off as everyone calls me on the mobile these days.
For those of us running a hospitality business it’s a different story of course. The telephone is still an important lifeline and connection with the customer. I don’t know about you but I almost always pick up the phone if I want to book a table at a restaurant and I may even use it to make a hotel booking too, depending on when I am planning to stay.
Research carried out by Strathclyde Business School www.strath.ac.uk/business and presented by Roddy Whiteford, Director Feversham Arms & Verbena Spa and MD Hotelfone; at the recent Hotel Marketing Conference, supported by the Hotel Marketing Association www.hotelmarketingassociation.com suggests that businesses are not paying enough attention to answering calls out of hours and losing customers as a result. As part of the survey, the students made calls to 120 hotels between 17.00 and 22.00 hours to see how their calls were dealt with.
The results were interesting to say the least. Over 16% of those contacted, did not answer the phone at all, while less than 2% offered a call back. Only 7% of replies were business asked for while 3% took contact details.
Now we all know what it must be like, particularly when you are a small independently owned hotel with one person, who probably has a million and one things to do including checking in guests, tasked with answering the phone!
However some further research by the students in the form of a questionnaire to over 2800 guests that recently stayed in hotels produced some interesting results. In fact it showed that out of hours only about 25% of those surveyed preferred method of contact was via a hotel website or email, while 47% – nearly half – preferred to pick up the phone to their chosen hotel to check availability or potentially make a booking.
According to Roddy, out of a total 850 missed calls to 50 hotels, there were potentially nearly 400 customers lost. That’s a lot of potential business that could be turned off or driven to the competition.
So it would seem wise to have a strategy in place about how to answer calls effectively out of hours, as the good old telephone is here to stay, at least for the time being.