Call tracking in hospitality and travel industry is nowadays an essential tool that no marketer should ignore… It may be not obvious why, so let’s take things from the start and look at a few statistics!
73 billion calls from mobile search… That’s the estimation for 2019. Quite high, right? Well, it is, but equally important is to know how this figure has changed over time. According to a study by BIA / Kelsey¹, that’s up from 30 billion in 2013! Obviously, the impact of the mobile web has been huge across a range of industries. Among them, hospitality. Importantly, this trend counters a common assumption that calls might be of less important web form bookings.
With the rise of online booking platforms like Expedia, Kayak, Hotels.com, and Booking.com it would be easy to assume that calls no longer play a critical role in the hospitality industry. Even though, due to the prevalence of mobile search and the ease of click-to-call, this assumption is a hypothesis that is proving incorrect.
Ready to learn why phone calls should be the focal point in any hotelier’s marketing strategy? And most importantly, why it is critical those phone calls be tracked?
Optimizing for Pay per Click (PPC) advertising
Everything starts with a Google search! No matter if you are looking to book a hotel for your dream vacation or for business. Typically, this is a geo-specific search with the name of the location appended to “hotel” or “accommodation”. As a result, one of the best ways of reaching these potential bookers is with Google Ads. The ad is tied to specific keywords (search terms) that the potential customer has entered.
If the person looking for accommodation is a mobile user – and as shown above they probably are – the mobile ad will have a click-to-call option. This means that the user can click directly on the Google Ad and call the hotel directly. Studies have shown that including a phone number on your ads offers a 6 – 8 % lift in your click-through-rate (CTR)². Noted?
Yes, yes, we know you could include a phone number without having call tracking in place. But… There is always a but!
Call tracking becomes essential in establishing which keywords lead to bookings. Google Ads has become very competitive over the past few years in the hospitality industry. Hotels are no longer just bidding against other hotels but against huge e-commerce platforms such as Expedia and Hotels.com.
Needless to say that prices have been steadily upwards. In any case, hotels can’t afford to waste the budget on ads that don’t result in bookings. And the only way to connect the dots and find out which keywords result in actual bookings is using call tracking in hospitality and travel sector.
Discover the source of the bookings
Concerns over privacy have made it more difficult to obtain detailed demographic information about customers. Google now anonymizes a lot of data that used to be publicly available. Call tracking allows recapturing some of them. In the first place, it shows the marketing sources that generate the calls. This is a really powerful piece of information for every business, isn’t it?
Secondly, these calls can be assessed on the number and value of bookings they produce. This information could be used to run a targeted marketing campaign in that particular vicinity. What is more, call tracking in hospitality and travel can be used to assess both the time of day and length of phone calls. This feature can be used to ensure there is sufficient staff available to answer calls during peak periods. In other words, the hotel’s capacity shouldn’t be ignored, because if someone tries to call but can’t get through, they are likely to book with another competitor.
Improve your landing pages
Conversion optimization allows you to produce more bookings from the same advertising spend. That’s a powerful way to get more bang for your marketing buck.
Imagine that 5% of people who visit a particular page make a booking inquiry. You make improvements to that page (e.g. make the call-to-action clearer and more prominent) which lift your conversions to 7%. If that page gets 50 visitors a day over the course of a week you get 7 more bookings. Over a year this adds up 364 more rooms booked! An example of how even relatively small improvements to a page can compound. And all of this, without spending more on your advertising. Cool?
However, to achieve those kinds of results you need the right metrics. And the only way to get to that is to measure all the ways people begin a booking inquiring – including calls. Once call tracking is in place you can perform A/B tests on your website’s landing page. This involves taking a “control” or the original version of the page and testing it against a new version of the page. After sending a statistically significant amount of traffic to the page you can see which of the two results in the most phone calls.
If you are using call tracking in connection with CRM, you can attribute the exact revenue that those phone calls produced. So, no more guesswork about the changes needed to increase booking revenue.
Enhance customer service
The way an agent handles a call has a large impact on whether or not a booking is made. However, customer service staff sometimes fail to understand the importance of handling the calls correctly or seem unaware of the factors which lead to a booking failure. This might stem from the fact they have various responsibilities and roles within the business.
… And here it comes to call monitoring to lend a hand. Call tracking in hospitality and travel allows you to improve the performance of your call handling and subsequently, generate more bookings. Wondering how? Call monitoring records the phone calls so that they can be played back later. And since calls can be attributed to a specific team member, you can easily identify which employees may require further training. Besides, you can introduce customer surveys to get feedback on the callers’ experience.
Cut a long story short, people call because they can have their questions answered and book during the same interaction. Makes sense! This also makes it clear that, in an increasingly competitive environment, hotels should not disregard the importance of phone calls, but set up a call tracking software, as an essential component of their marketing strategy.