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Tips As booking size increases, so does the importance of your call center.

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photo of the author Gregg Blanchard

 Nov 18, 2021

This is an excerpt from our upcoming book, The Ultimate Guide to Growing Resort Ecommerce Revenue. Click here to download a preview→

The title of this book, the premise of the first 5 chapters, and 99% of the contents thus far all point to the topic of ecommerce. But while that is the focus, we can’t paint a complete picture of ecommerce without also exploring the role of a call center relative to your booking engine.

Call Centers

Call centers are a funny thing. On the one hand, so many of the latest travel technology innovations seem to point to their eventual extinction. Yet, call centers remain. Which makes that word – eventual – an important one. Does eventual mean one year? Five years? Fifty years? The mistake travel professionals often make is the same one we discussed in the last chapter: mistaking a trend in a certain direction for the eventual arrival at the destination. Making everyone book in the same way a vocal minority books will force everyone through the same booking path even though a significant portion of that group doesn’t yet want to.

Let’s explore this more with a few data points.

Number of Call Center Bookings
In a random sample of our resort clients we recently analyzed, call center bookings accounted for 20.1% of their total bookings on average. A few years ago, the number was slightly higher. This confirms that the trend is headed toward call centers handling a smaller share of bookings, but the fact that 1 out of 5 still prefer or need to talk to a human is not insignificant.

booking volume by channel

Value of Call Center Bookings
Especially when you consider the size of these bookings. Because the average dollar value of call center bookings in the sample were 2.2x the size of online bookings.

booking value by channel

Cart Size of Call Center Bookings
In this sample, 15% of people booking a single product did so over the phone. However, when you looked at people booking 5+ products, 48% of these guests booked their carts over the phone.

booking volume by cart size

In other words, as the value of an itinerary increases, so does the likelihood they may want some help from a person to be sure they get it right. As many use cases as your booking engine can account for, it can’t account for all of them. A human, on the other hand, can.

Relationship to the Booking Engine

What’s important to remember, however, is that the venn diagram of online bookers and call center bookers has an often ignored area of overlap. This is made up of folks who start booking in one place but finish in another. Perhaps a caller just wanted to run everything by their partner before finalizing in the evening when your agents aren’t available. Or that guest who started to book online, but just wanted to double check they’re getting the best deal with a person before booking. Or a little bit of both.

And while we say “call center”, these aren’t just phone calls but social media conversations, live chats, and other online channels that connect a human with a shopper without having to pick up a phone.

In each case these friendly, knowledgeable humans are just who you need to ensure that a guest with a $10,000 itinerary can get a little bit of extra help or confidence to ensure they don’t abandon that cart.

This is an excerpt from our upcoming book, The Ultimate Guide to Growing Resort Ecommerce Revenue. Click here to download a preview→

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