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Tips How many guests want to book over the phone in 2024?

photo of the author Gregg Blanchard

 Jan 22, 2024

It wasn’t that many years ago when folks were predicting that call centers were a thing of the past and it was only a matter of time before online was the only way guests wanted to book their vacations. But then something interesting happened for many types of bookings, online booking numbers plateaued.

When I’ve heard this trend discussed in various circles, people often point to the technology as the driver behind this trend. As a result, they wonder what they have to do with the platforms to break through that ceiling. The more I’ve listened to the guests, however, I’ve come away with the realization that the real driver appears to be our guests’ booking preferences.

Guest Booking Preferences

Let me give you a simple data point to illustrate what I mean. Last year we were digging into a few trends as a group and I realized that none of the data in the industry was really answering what we wer asking. So I created my own survey and got it in front of just over 250 travelers.

One of the questions I ask was targeted at those booking preferences. The question I asked was simply:

If you’re booking a vacation to a destination/resort where you need to book both a hotel room and at least one other activity, how would you prefer to book that trip?

Here’s what they said.

chart showing 55% booking all online, 22% by calling, the rest some combination of both

This was really intriguing to me, but it also seemed very familiar. A few months before I’d written a story about how Stein Collection implemented Inntopia Commerce so they could have their rooms available both online and over the phone.

Similar to their survey, they essentially were giving their guests all the options and letting them choose. And how many guests chose to book online?

“We’ve increased online bookings 2.5x with Inntopia Commerce. Before, just 22-23% of bookings were online. Now it’s 52% in winter and 63% in summer.”

Almost exactly what the survey showed.

When guests are booking more than just a hotel room or single activity, it turns out there are a lot of folks who want a little bit of human help even to make sure they get it right (even if they’d prefer to finalize their booking online). This is where functionality like our Online->Offline feature comes in handy. It allows you to let your guests get the help the need and book in the place they want, regardless of how those two things intersect.

The Common Mistake

The mistake I’ve seen happen many times is mistaking a trend for a consensus. The biggest piece of the pie is still just at – a piece – and going all in on that route forces the other segments of your guests to book in a way that conflicts with their preference.

The secret to revenue growth isn’t to choose a booking engine that works with the majority of your guests’ preference, but one that works with all of their preferences like Inntopia Commerce.

Don’t choose for your guests, let them choose.

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Tyler Maynard
SVP of Business Development
Ski / Golf / Destination Research
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Doug Kellogg
Director of Business Development
Hospitality / Attractions
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