Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, but in reality they can be stressful logistical nightmares. Besides trying to find affordable flights and figuring out how to get around in a new city, travellers can spend hours comparing different hotels.
And with all the hotel horror stories circulating the Internet, it’s no wonder people take their time. After all, the place will be their temporary home base. They’ve been looking forward to a hard-earned holiday all year long and want to indulge themselves. The last thing they want is for their vacation to be ruined by the wrong hotel.
So with all this customer selectivity, how do you increase the chances of people choosing your hotel? One way is with live chat: a powerful tool that’s being rapidly adopted throughout the hotel industry—by trivago, for example.
In this post we’ll look at five ways you can increase your bookings throughout the year just by integrating live chat on your hotel’s website.
1. Add a human voice to your online presence
Imagine a large group of people entering your hotel, only to find nobody at the reception desk. This is, undoubtedly, every hotel manager’s worst nightmare.
Your website is your hotel’s online reception desk, and it should offer the same experience online as its offline counterpart. It’s the first point of contact your potential guests have with your hotel. How great would it be for there to be somebody welcoming and assisting them when they enter your website?
By integrating live chat on your hotel’s website, you add a voice to your online presence.
2. Answer questions in real time
Every guest will have specific questions about staying at your hotel—questions you won’t be able to foresee in order to address on your website.
You could, of course, try to preemptively answer every single question that may arise in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section; but will somebody organizing their holidays have the patience to extensively browse your website for an answer? I don’t think so.
A study by Forrester found that a massive 57 percent of online customers will abandon your website if they don’t receive a quick answer. That’s a lot of bookings to be missing out on, not to mention money you’re leaving on the table, just because a potential guest doesn’t have an easy way to ask a question.
They may want to know about the hotel room’s noise level, whether they’re able to check in at 3 a.m., or even about special dietary arrangements for breakfast. By having live chat integrated, you’ll be able to answer these and similar questions, and instantaneously address any concerns.
3. Upselling to customers
But live chat can do even more. It can also increase the average value of your bookings.
Take for instance Virgin Atlantic Airlines, which uses live chat primarily for upselling. According to Virgin, people who buy tickets online don’t need to be convinced, as they’ve already made up their minds. Through live chat, Virgin has been able to sell additional services to customers completing their order, leading to a 15 percent increase in the average order value.
As a hotel, you can also use live chat to upsell potential guest on special breakfast and dinner deals. Additionally, you can improve the customer experience by recommending nearby attractions and restaurants to visit when they book with you.
4. Close more bookings by being proactive
Sometimes people will take their time browsing your website before making a booking decision. They want to compare the different rooms and services you offer. If people are spending a lot of time on your website, it’s a good indication that they’re engaged and interested in booking with you.
However, it could also be that they have questions and are having a hard time finding the answers. In this case, you can set live chat to proactive mode, through which a live chat window automatically appears after a visitor has been on your website for a specific amount of time.
With this approach, you give people a clear and easy way to ask you questions about their potential booking. With proactive chat you also decrease the chances of people abandoning your hotel website. Sam’s Furniture applied this approach to their website and generated approximately $50,000 in sales revenue.
You’re not selling furniture, of course. But booking several nights at a hotel can be quite costly, so it’s natural for people to take their time in comparing and exploring different options.
Compete with booking channels
5. Add live chat to your checkout process
Another trick to help you increase bookings is to add live chat during the checkout process. You don’t want a potential guest to leave your website right before confirming their booking.
For some guests, this could be their first time booking with you, and they might just need a helping hand to complete the process. By applying the proactive chat approach, you can address any issues people may encounter. And best of all, you won’t lose them to a competitor. It never hurts to ask whether they’d like somebody to guide them through the booking process.
Of course, you don’t want to come across as pressuring people to complete their booking. Which is why it’s vital that your chat tone doesn’t sound too pushy, but is instead helpful in nature.
Enterprise software company Intuit placed a live chat widget during the checkout process and saw their average order value increase by an impressive 43 percent.
Further benefits of live chat
In addition to helping you increase your bookings, there’s also the marketing and brand advantage that comes from having live chat on your website. I bet you can count on one hand the number hotels you’ve seen using live chat. By giving people the opportunity to chat with you in real time, you instantly rise above your local competition.
Live chat is an effective way to build rapport and attract repeat bookings. Every chat session is an opportunity to deliver a personalized customer experience to potential guests on your website. Which can also be a preview of the type of service they can expect from your hotel.
The impact of adding live chat to a website will obviously vary across industries. But the only way to find out whether it works for you is to try it out for yourself and measure its impact.
What about you—have you already tried out live chat? Let me know on Twitter
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of Live Chat for your hotel head over to Userlike.