Hotels could gain more control with chatbots
Hotels are often very dependent on aggregators, but chatbots can help them recover some control over their customers
In the hotel and hospitality industry aggregators and OTAs wield a lot of power. They control key distribution channels, take large commissions, and often require hotels to offer the same prices on their own site. As a result, any sale made directly by the hotel usually yields 15-30% more than one that goes through a third party service.
Naturally, hotels have long been trying to boost their direct sales, but they cannot easily compete with the massive reach of dominant OTAs. Where they can compete, however, is in the quality of information and the personalized attention they can provide.
How to win more direct sales
OTAs, by the very nature of their business, must provide standardized content that will give some key information but cannot cover everything. Many customers will search for additional details before booking it and in doing so will give the hotel a chance to engage them and close the deal before they go back to the aggregator’s page.
To gain the upper hand, hotels must reduce to the minimum the friction levels in their communication and sales channels, making it as easy as possible to communicate with them, while also giving users a reason to write. The ideal way to do it is by using something as simple as a chat channel on the site or the possibility to write directly via a messaging app like WhatsApp or WeChat.
Approaching users in the right way in order to entice them to chat and providing fast, relevant, 24/7 answers will also be essential to success. The challenge is that most hotels cannot afford to have enough dedicated staff to provide this kind of attention.
How using chatbots can help
Chatbots can provide an ideal solution to manage both the initial conversation and the booking process. Modern systems have gone far beyond the primitive and unnatural communication experiences of a few years ago. Today’s chatbots can easily engage users who come to a company’s page or message on WhatsApp, providing personalized answers to their questions, offering tips, and even managing the entire booking process without ever leaving the chat.
They can also operate across channels meaning that a user could be engaged initially on the website and later seamlessly transitioned to a mobile messaging app such as WeChat, Messenger, or Telegram. The same system could also be used to gather data and help the hotel better understand its customers and optimize its sales process.
In a well-design system, after the sale, the chatbot could be used as a concierge, helping the hotel increase customer satisfaction and increasing ancillary revenue. To get started we recommend getting in touch with our team of experts that will be more than happy to help. You can reach out to them by using the link below.